poems staged around an overhead projector / the Midwest and 9-11 / a fake fire / gas stations / the stars and sexuality / a video of the twin Budweiser towers / stenciled sets and affects / a new Arabic love poetry / installation ~ projections ~ provocative language / and more, from BFE USA
Habib Albi is…Not a Man is part theatre, part poetry, and part installation. It is a one man show made up of 10-13 poems each performed as a separate scene. The show is not one coherent dramatic story but more a set of interwoven instances, a non-linear meditation exploring the salvaging of a self from the homogenizing forces of our socio-political environment.
The show is staged around an overhead projector which projects images and text as settings for the performed poems. It transforms throughout the show as a prop and a psychical landscape; it poses as an x-ray scan; a mini-van; a lamp; a night sky; a campfire; a cash register; the moon; and more. Other media are part of the show as well, from stencils to audio to the opening video, BFE USA. This is a performance installation done by a Budweiser factory in Columbus, Ohio where I grew up and scored by an Osama Bin Laden speech. This video represents a main tension in the show, engaging with – as it debunks the terms of – being Arab-American in the Midwest post-9/11.
The pieces in the show try to open the explicitness of language to the more affective forms of performance and visual art. They try to transcend intensely socialized identities such as ‘man’ and ‘Arab,’ rigid categories such as ‘political’ and ‘love poem,’ and glossed-over experiences such as ‘immigration’ and ‘childhood’ and present them in their complexity. They comment on the phenomenon of 9/11 and explore its psychical effects. They connect all this with what could be significant about my own Egyptian-American background.
couch stenciling and photo, Moheb Soliman
Moheb Soliman is a writer and performer born in Egypt but grew up mostly in Oklahoma and Ohio. He received his BA in creative writing as well as education at the New School for Social Research in New York City, where he would later perform Habib Albi is…Not a Man at such venues as Nuyorican Poets Café, Bowery Poetry Club, Dixon Place, and others. He moved to Canada to pursue an MA in education from the University of Toronto before moving to Montreal about a year ago. During the past two years he has been working on a new project based on circumnavigating the Great Lakes by land and writing, exploring geography as an axis of identity and lingering in the many ambivalent places nature and culture meet.
Other accomplishments include: Confess Confess – a performed poetry series; independent publication of the chapbook New Signature Pillow Writing; publication in Three Plum Review: Central Ohio Writing and Mizna: Prose Poetry and Art Exploring Arab America; inclusion of the video BFE USA in New World Disorder’s Encounter Terror – an international video exhibit; recent publication of the chapbook This beach has more than two sides by Buffalo Runs Press; a number of group and solo shows. I am also working on the plays Jihad to be There!, WISH, and various other writing.