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An Arab In The City

An Arab In The City
  • PublishedSeptember 23, 2019

Léa Maleh is a woman, Léa Maleh is an artist, Léa Maleh is French-Lebanese, Léa Maleh asks herself a lot of questions.

Born in Beirut, Léa grew up in the middle of an intersection where monotheistic religions coexisted (Christian, Jewish and Muslim). In a country that has gone through periods of war and peace. So it was spontaneously that her art took the stage following the events that France has experienced in recent years. From the racist climate and the communitarian reactions of some, she painfully birthed a series of work modestly called “An Arab In The City”.

7 wooden boards of 4 different essences engraved with a message in modernized Arabic calligraphy. Zebrano wood, walnut, rosewood and olive tree, different woods, different hues, different essences illustrating the diversity of the human species. No board resembles each other, yet no one would dare to dispute their nature.  However, we can’t say the same for the human race where amalgam and hatred for others are rampant. She draws from the essence of these fibers a parallel with human society.  Lea invites us to reflect on our identity, our differences and similarities, and to dive into universal human values that belong to us all.

“I am like you*, human* and alive*. I am an artist*, creator of my own life, my emotions and my wildest dreams. You can impute me social and religious labels, you can judge me, hate me, ignore me.  You can even let me sink if you want. You can also put me in a cage in a war zone, forbid me to speak. Yes you can. Enjoy yourself.  In the name of your ambitions, your beliefs, your economic views, no worries, go ahead, it’s free.  Help yourself, destroy my house, my street, my neighborhood and my country. I do not care.  Contrary to what you believe, I shall always be free*, for my conscience is impenetrable. My freedom to think is endless. I can dream, imagine, walk in the entire universe. You can imprison my mind in speeches and opinions, but my soul belongs to me.  It is my only possession, more important than any material good.  It is my visa without a passport.

My name is Léa Maleh, I was born in Beirut on April 28, 1983, naturalized French. I am too pale to be Lebanese, revolutionary enough to be French*, but too free to be content. I am An Arab In The City, citizen of the world, and I am proud*.”

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