The Gift of Silence – Retrieving Beirut

The Gift of Silence

Karim Maroun, 02/05/2017

Insistently struggling to adapt to the rapid evolution of our interconnected world, most of us have been unaware that we were being slowly ripped off our most vital asset: our own thoughts. The media, as we all know, commands the majority; through constant stream of information and by integrating the people in a system that seems hard to ignore, it has unified our priorities, or in other words, deprived us of our own judgment. And such an impressive realization couldn’t have been possible without dispossessing us of silence.

Amidst an obstinate torrent of data, we have become unmindful of the noise, whether auditory or visual, that has become a normal background upon which strives our daily stress and a vehicle through which we are manipulated.

In an attempt to highlight the importance of silence in nowadays society, scenographer and installation artist Nathalie Harb outlines this commodity through her “Silent Room” project. Rather than the common notion of shelter, the room will be an erect in the landscape and will be accessible to anyone willing to experience both visual and auditory rest. The space, designed as a cocoon, is intended to sooth the eye through the use of green and blue shades, and calm the ear through the inclusion of tracks representing Beirut at its’ quietest hours, a trademark that would vary according to the city in question.

Nathalie’s interpretation of silence goes beyond the simple notion and defines it as an element of social discrimination in our current culture. Only the more privileged are able to enjoy silence while the rest are caught deeper in the tide. The latter are mostly installed in crowded spaces, next to highways or in industrial sections of the city and can hardly find the peace of mind to alleviate their anxiety. Moreover, this state of generalized fear installed by the media has been used to control the opinions of many mostly by politicians who radicalize it and guide us, in our numbness, to reach their ends.

Her cross-disciplinary project pushes the boundaries of scenography, art installation and more importantly social intervention. A wake up call aiming not only to provide a public, private space for everyone to experience and benefit from, but also at influencing the urban mentality to one day reach a utopic development that integrates such silent rooms within cities. The “Silent Room” will start on May 19th and will last for a week.