Gab Ferneiné is a Lebanese media consultant who dedicated his latest experimental video, Safineh (Arabic for “boat”), to the Beirut port. Mashallah News asked him a couple of questions about his work.
Can you introduce yourself?
I’m based in Beirut and work with crafting media and software — from advertisements and corporate animations to the craziest experimental projects.
How did the Safineh project start? What was your main motivation?
Three years ago, when I moved in to an apartment in the suburbs of Beirut, I started taking pictures of the activity in the port, where massive container ships were entering and leaving. I was baffled by this scenery, something I was not aware of. I was living in a studio on the first floor in Geitawi, had forgotten how close I was to the sea and the naive satisfactory pride that it gave me.
This completely changed the view I had of Beirut, a city I have lived in since 1979. A city which in my mind has been painted with concrete buildings and claustrophobic, never ending, traffic jams. Then, a couple of months ago, I looked at the footage again, and decided to use it for a testimony of the affection I have for this city. Nabil Saliba, aka Trash Inc., came along and composed the music for it.
Do you think the port and the city should be more connected?
The message with the video is that Beirut is a port city, yet it’s not something that anyone can see or be aware of on a daily basis. But it was not my first intention to create any kind of nostalgia over the city’s connectedness to its port. When the video was released, it coincided with the airing of a series of reports on a Lebanese TV channel about bribery and trafficking in the port. I thought that was a nice coincidence.
Do you plan to do other videos on specific aspects of Beirut?
For a while now I’ve collected postal stamps, and have been amazed by the historical aspect of Middle Eastern philately. I might explore that in an animation I’m working on, and Beirut will be the main subject. But it might take a while before I’m happy with the results. Nothing I do is ever planned, it’s all about when and how things click as they move from my heart to my brain cells.