info I contact
advertising
editorial schedule
acknowledgements
join the realtime email list
become a friend of realtime on facebook
follow realtime on twitter
donate

magazine  archive  features  rt profiler  realtimedance  mediaartarchive
back

realtime traveller


 Da Contents H2

July 22 2015
Place: Seoul, South Korea
Traveller: Gail Priest, sound artist

February 4 2015
Place: Bourges, France
Traveller: Gail Priest, sound artist, RT Online Producer

March 26 2014
Place: Split, Croatia
Traveller: Peter Volich, artist

September 4 2013
Place: Linz, Austria – Ars Electronica special
Traveller: Matthew Gardiner, artist, researcher, curator

May 1 2013
place: brussels, belgium
traveller: sophie travers, performing arts producer

January 30 2013
place: glasgow, scotland, united kingdom
traveller: robert walton, director, live artist, lecturer in theatre at vca

November 6 2012
place: auckland, aotearoa, new zealand
traveller: gail priest, sound artist, associate editor realtime

October 23 2012
place: santiago, chile
traveller: tim welfare

September 18 2012
place: munich, germany
traveller: glyn roberts, playwright/producer

July 17 2012
place: detroit
traveller: rebecca conroy, trans-disciplinary thinker maker doer

July 3 2012
place: beijing, people’s republic of china
traveller: dan edwards, writer/journalist

place: yogyakarta
traveller: malcolm smith, artist, arts manager and curator

May 22 2012
place: wroclaw, poland
traveller: janie gibson, actor

May 8 2012
place: beirut, lebanon
traveller: jim denley, musician

place: shanghai, people’s republic of china
traveller: thea baumann, executive producer aphids, director of metaverse makeovers

April 24 2012
place: berlin, germany
traveller: jana perkovic, writer, urbanist

place: hong kong, people’s republic of china
traveller: bec allen, arts producer

March 6 2012
place: barcelona, spain
traveller: jodi rose, sound artist, writer

place: new york, usa
traveller: michaela coventry, dance producer

place: sarajevo, bosnia & herzegovina
traveller: kym vercoe, performer

place: turku, finland
traveller: nigel helyer, artist

 

place: beirut, lebanon

traveller: jim denley, musician


Jim Denley (left) discussing politics in Beirut with a local and musician Tony Buck Jim Denley (left) discussing politics in Beirut with a local and musician Tony Buck
reason for travelling

To perform in the Irtijal Festival in Beirut

everything’s negotiable

Beirut is a city in a period of rapid transformation. One sees evidence of the devastation of its troubled past, but all around there is renovation and reconstruction, not just physically— the city is gripped by a desire for cultural change. It's an exciting and contradictory place. Whether or not, in the face of transformation, it can maintain some of its old charms is a debate current amongst its citizens. The reconstructed downtown looks like a film set—almost too perfect; a few metres away are the empty shells of bombed buildings. A promenade by the Mediterranean brings you in contact with a diverse group of people. Beirut is a complex place.

Old Beirut Old Beirut
photo Jim Denley
Getting around the city is a challenge, there is little public transport and walking can seem unpleasant and dangerous due to noisy, chaotic traffic—drivers park their cars almost anywhere, often blocking pavements. But once you get the feel for it, crossing streets and negotiating the traffic becomes easier and off the main roads it's surprisingly quiet. Everything in this place is negotiable. Regulations have little power—red lights are often run—but strangely, it works. Cabs are cheap, every trip seems to be 10,000 Lebanese pounds, around AU$6-7.


wotif.com


for culture…

Around Easter in Beirut is the Irjtjal Festival devoted to improvised music (irjtjal means improvisation in Arabic). The event forms around a core group of musicians: Mazen Kerbaj (trumpet), Raed Yassin (double bass) and Sharif Sehnaoui (guitar), three brilliant players working at the very edge of experimentalism on their instruments. They have links with an array of European and American musicians and, excitingly, performers from Egypt and Tunisia. The festival takes place in a variety of venues throughout central Beirut.

Straight after this festival is BIPOD—Beirut International Platform of Dance. Launched in 2004 as the Beirut International Dance Festival it offers dance performances by artists of different origins, workshops, conferences and debates in order to develop new concepts in contemporary dance. The Beirut Art Centre is also worth checking out, offering programs of exhibitions and performances.

Bustros Palace, Beirut Bustros Palace, Beirut
photo Jim Denley


There are good bookshops throughout the city. I guess given Lebanon's history it's not surprising that the politics section is often large and quite radical. There are bookshops in the main street of Hamra and even Virgin Megastore in the Downtown area carries a large number of books on Lebanese history and politics. There are also little shops in Mar Mikhael, like Papercup on Rue Pharaon, specialising in art books.

Metropolis Empire Sofil in Ashrafieh, at the heart of Beirut, is a two-screen theatre, also a café and a film library. The program is mainly art cinema.

La Plage, Beirut La Plage, Beirut
photo Jim Denley


for refreshment…

Eating in Beirut is a great experience, I didn't have a bad meal in my time there. For Armenian food, Mayrig (282 Rue Pasteur) provided me with one of the best meals I've ever had in my life. Armenian food is similar to Lebanese but with subtly different spices. I think the meatballs in cherries might have been sheep testicles—it was delicious.

A good place for lunch is Basma (Sasadi Bldg, Charles Malek Ave) in Achrafieh. The menu seems to be modern meets traditional.

One of Beirut's most famous landmarks—a massive seaside palace with swimming pool beach club and swanky eatery—is known by long-time locals as Café d’Orient or simply as La Plage by everyone else (Ain el-Mreisseh). It's expensive, but a great place to sit and have a drink in the evening and watch the Mediterranean.

Cheaper options are Barbar on Rue Spears in Hamra where you can pick up fresh falafel and kebabs till late. This popular chain sells manaeesh, shwarma, pastries, mezze, kebabs, ice cream and fresh juice.

Shoemaker in Beirut Shoemaker in Beirut
photo Jim Denley


other recommendations…

A walk around Bourj Hamoud just to the north of Beirut takes you into another world where Armenian culture dominates. There are lots of delicious and cheap places to eat. Bourj Hammoud was founded by survivors of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and expanded mostly during the 1930s. They were given the right to construct shacks on the eastern banks of the Beirut River that, at the time, was swamp and marshland. Subsequently permission was granted to erect houses and buildings which stand to this day.

If you have time, take the bus north 85km to Tripoli. The souk (covered market) and the old city there are extraordinary, and people are friendly and inquisitive—I guess they don't see too many tourists. Eat at Abdul Rahman Hallab & Sons (just ask, everyone seems to know this place) where the sweets are amazing and different from any Lebanese sweets I've had in Australia.

links

Irjtjal www.irtijal.org

BIPOD—Beirut International Platform of Dance http://kadmusarts.com/festivals/1491.html

The Beirut Art Centre http://beirutartcenter.org/

Papercup http://papercupstore.com/

Metropolis Empire Sofil http://www.metropoliscinema.net/

Marig http://mayrigbeirut.com

-------------------------------------------

Jim Denley is Sydney-based musician. Wind instruments and electronics are core elements of his musical output. An emphasis on spontaneity, site-specific work and collaboration has been central to his work. He sees no clear distinctions between his roles as instrumentalist, improviser and composer. Denley performs regularly at local, national and international events and festivals and also runs the record label splitrec.

a selection of related articles

jon rose: australia made extraordinary
jim denley talks with jon rose, don banks music award winner 2012
RealTime issue #108 April-May 2012 pg. 34-35

artv: composer profile, jon rose video interview
jim denley talks with jon rose, don banks music award winner 2012
online april 3, 2012

earbash review: blip (jim denley, mike majkowksi)
calibrated
online e-dition may 10, 2011

pure pursuits
gail priest: soundout 2011, canberra
RealTime issue #102 April-May 2011 pg. 39

sounds found & introduced
bruce mowson: bogong air festival
RealTime issue #102 April-May 2011 pg. 40

sonic interiors
simon charles: liquid architecture 9, melbourne
RealTime issue #87 Oct-Nov 2008 pg. 47

the many ways to play
chris reid samples sonic innovation at mibem
RealTime issue #85 June-July 2008 pg. 45

the improvising organism
gail priest, machine for making sense
RealTime issue #48 April-May 2002 pg. 38

© Jim Denley; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

Back to top