GLUB (Hearts)

Multi-screen video installation, 10 minutes (looped), 2003–2004
Multi-lingual with English subtitles

GLUB, Arabic for ‘hearts,’ names edible ‘seeds’ - the stuff of the future, growth and change, movement and sustenance. Hearts connote the beating heart of a live culture, survival, affection, and excitement. In this film, it is the excitement, overruling complaints and problems, anxieties and xenophobia.

The mixed societies that have emerged from migration have benefited from migrants’ arrival. Cities have become heterogeneous (‘colourful’), music and cinema have been spectacularly enriched. On the streets of Berlin, e.g. in Kreuzberg, the shells of seeds testify to the presence of migrant culture in contemporary European urban centres. Those traces of passing gestures are the ‘low’ icons of migratory aesthetics. ‘Low’: inexpensive, modest, and thrown away as rubbish; ‘low’ as unspectacular, democratic because available to all, and lying around on the once immaculate pavements. Aesthetic, though, because they mark the look of the city that, through these shells and the sociability of the people who left them after eating outside and together, has donned a visible aspect of diversity.

GLUB is presented here as a modest, barely visible ‘icon’ of the aesthetic changes in everyday urban culture. Arab youngsters are often seen hanging around eating seeds. These have rather little taste, provide little nourishment, and have no hallucinogenic qualities. One migrant said they eat them to pass the time that stretches out so endlessly for the unemployed. Then it became a habit, then an appreciated tradition, incorporating (literally) a sense of family and community. It now characterizes the visual sight of migrant young men in European cities. More so, however, when European youngsters began to imitate the cool-looking habit. Identity dissolves, while contact is being established, not necessarily between persons but surely within the ‘look’ of culture. Glub-eating young men of Arabic and German backgrounds testify to the permeability of cultural boundaries, hence, identities.

The work has been installed in the following venues:
- Salle d’exposition Manufacture des Tabacs, Lyon, France, 1-20 June 2017 (reduced version)
- Etagji Art Center, Saint Petersburg, Russia, April 16 – June 1, 2010
- Exhibition “Going the Distance: Video Works in Migratory Aesthetics.” Tampere Art Museum, Tampere, Finland, December 5, 2008 – February 15, 2009
- Exhibition “Going the Distance: Video Works in Migratory Aesthetics.” Fremantle Fibonacci Centre, Fremantle, Australia, December 12 – 21, 2008
- Eigenheim Galerie Konstatin Bayer, Weimar, Germany, October 21 – November 4, 2006
- Hopkins Hall Gallery, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, January 31 – February 5, 2005
- “Bologna Flash Art Show”, Sofitel Hotel, Bologna, Italy, 2005
- Case Art Studio Gallery, Cleveland, OH, October 8–30, 2004
- “just pLAy”, Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles, 2004

Scholarship about this work:
- Cohen, Brianne 2014 “Burning Cars, Caricatures and Glub”, Third Text, 28,2: 190-202
- Aydemir, Murat 2008 “Piecemeal Translation”, 7-25 in About Mieke Bal, ed. Deborah Cherry. London: Wiley-Blackwell
- Bal, Mieke 2005 “Food, Form, and Visibility: GLUB and the Aesthetics of Everyday Life.” Postcolonial Studies 8, no. 1: 51–77; reprinted in Enigma Objekta: Zbornik teorijskih tekstova, eds. Gordan Karabogdan and Nikica Klobučar, 9–23. Zagreb: I.T.GRAF, 2005; also in Kulturelle Figurationen: Genese, Dynamik und Medialität. Günter und Dietrich Boschung (ed.). München, Morphomata, 2011, 175-196