Resilient Cities
S1 E1: Beirut - Art as a New Narrative

Beirut: Art As A New Narrative

Beirut is a battle-­scarred city that has survived military invasions and civil war. Currently it struggles with a Muslim and Christian divide, the influx of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and has Isis looming over their country’s northern border. Still, Beirut is considered the cultural hub of the Middle East. Reverberating with the sounds of musicians, performers and activists as well as hosting one of the best nightlife scenes in the world, Beirut is an enigma. 

The city’s resiliency is in large part defined by artists and activists who help to carve out a distinct culture in spite of the surrounding chaos. In this episode we follow one Canadian ex-­pat and four local artists: Nasri Atallah, a writer; Gaafar Touffar, a rapper; Yazan Halwani, a graffiti artist; and Alexandre Paulikevitch, a male belly dancer. They all use their art to express their struggles, their hopes and their vision for the future of the city.

Available until
2018-08-25T00:00:00-07:00

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Moscow: Expression in the Face of Suppression

Moscow is a city where dissidents live in fear. After emerging from a decade of post-­Soviet economic and political turmoil, the country, under Putin’s rule, is a place where authorities have tightened control over the media and stifled the opposition. The government maintains a narrative that insists on the country’s unique power in contrast with the rest of Europe. In 2011, thousands of protestors gathered in Moscow to protest electoral fraud – it was the biggest show of protest since the fall of the USSR.

Jerusalem: Artists Fighting for Their Own Truth

As one of the oldest cities in the world and of significance to followers of all three major religions, Jerusalem is constantly on edge. It is segregated into two distinct parts, East and West. In the streets, 18-­year-­old soldiers patrol the city with guns. Artists in both parts of the city are using art to find and fight for their own truth and bring about peace amid the regular eruptions of violence.

Lagos: Artists Provoking Debate

Lagos, the largest city in Africa and an economic powerhouse, is characterized by extreme social inequalities, frequent power cuts and a rapidly increasing population. In the rest of Nigeria, political upheavals, including the militant insurgency of Boko Haram and a drop in oil production in the country’s oil sector, are among some of the challenges facing the government of Mohammadu Buhari, elected in 2015. Lagos, and its exploding art scene, is where these realities are brought to the fore of people’s consciousness.

Havana: Art from a Disconnected Island

Cuba is a multi-layered, complex, culturally-rich island, known primarily for the 1953 revolution of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. The revolution, America’s subsequent trade embargo and the economic struggles that the island faced has had a notable impact on the kind of art that was created. Much of it was inspired by a sense of cohesion and unity, with Cuban artists promoting the belief that socialism would work. More recently, and in the context of renewed normalization of relations between the U.S.

Manila: Creating In Spite of Fear

Manila, a giant Asian metropolis with traffic-laden roads, towering skyscrapers and sprawling informal settlements, has become a dangerous place. Rodrigo Duterte was elected president of the Philippines in June 2016, vowing to crack down on the drug trade. Since then, extrajudicial killings have led to the deaths of over 3500 people by vigilantes; his approach is reminiscent of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled from 1965 to 1986.