May was always going to be a big month. It seemed like things had been building up to it forever.
To begin with there was the Amandla Forum. I’d been involved in the event since November of 2009, it was scheduled for 4-6th May at the Dead Sea, and I was pretty excited to see how it turned out. Basically it was a new media forum… branding, internet strategy, social networking, trends in journalism, that sort of thing. You can read a slightly self-congratulatory story about it here, or check out the footage on ikbis.
Great as Amandla Forum turned out to be, most people probably remember the first week of May for the civil unrest on Mecca St – right by where i live. I remember calling a friend – Farah who wrote a great piece on people who don’t use Facebook coincidentally – asking if she was coming to the Forum. Turns out she was peering through the blinds at a friends house right by ground zero… someone had just been shot, possibly in a drugs bust, a police box had been trashed, and you could hear the noise and sirens streets away (which in Amman, unlike London, is a big deal).
My Dad ventured out to get his daily beer… only to return empty handed with the news that people were quite inconsiderately launching flaming tires down the street. I didn’t realize the extent of the skirmish until i drove down Mecca Street the following day, and a friend sent me these images and videos.
Life’s funny… while all this was happening i was sitting on the balcony at Nabad gallery, after checking out the print sale at Jacaranda. Which brings me to the next reason May was important: Abu Shindi.
I’d been working on this story since January. It was a pretty thankless task… once the doyen of the art establishment this was an artist who had become it’s most notable pariah. He fed me misinformation, made wild accusations which were really difficult to corroborate, and there was always this massive conflict between his actual story and the story he wanted me to tell, the person he wanted to be. You can read the piece here.
Though professionally i’m proud of it (my editor Nick gave me a lot of help) it was a tough experience. The aim was to reflect his art and revive his memory, while also explaining the reason for his fall from grace… but it’s a pretty unhappy story, and perhaps I hurt the artist in telling it.
Anyway, blog posts shouldn’t really be this long, so will wrap things up. May ended the same way it began, revolving around social media. I attended a Young Leader’s Social Media Cafe event at La Ville Cafe, while the following day 7iber celebrated it’s 3rd anniversary at Dar Al Anda gallery, on the same night Jordan celebrated sixty three years of independence from you-know-who. They did the same when i was in America… and in Hong Kong….
Finally, miscellaneous for the month of May as follows: there’s no where decent to get a shawarma in shmeisani, the Scarlett Johansson fight scene in Iron Man 2 was really bad, people here seem to really like Robin Hood, why are the actors in Prince of Persia all British, and has someone close to me really just died her hair blonde?
NB. Amandla Forum photos courtesy of Mohamed Madi