Marco: an Erotic Encounter Transforms Into Consolation from Displacement

“Hi, Marco.” says the young man at the door.

In less that twenty-two minutes filmmaker Saleem Haddad tells us a story of a chance meeting of two men: Omar, a Lebanese professional seeking a massage (and probably more), and Marco, masseuse/sex worker trying to pass himself off as a Spaniard. The setting is London, and pre-erotic small talk opens the door to discovery where we learn of their very different, yet strikingly parallel, displacement narratives.

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Rendering Hope: Responding to Displacement Through Art

“Death,” Lebanon / Syrian refugees A drawing from a young Syrian refugee at the UNHCR office in Tyre, Lebanon, drawn by a 9 years old boy. His parents and he were coming to Lebanon when an armed group stopped the bus and they robbed the passengers. / UNHCR / S. Baldwin

Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, attention has steadily shifted from the war’s impact on Syrians to the stress placed upon countries dealing with increasing refugee populations. Turkey, with 3.4 million; Lebanon, with 1 million; and Jordan, with 660 thousand refugees account for over half of the estimated 6.6 million displaced Syrians.

Yet these numbers do not include those from Afghanistan, Sudan, Libya, and dozens of other war-torn regions. In short, there are millions of displaced people fleeing unstable countries, and how we think about these refugees is largely shaped by the politics and media of the countries where they relocate.

While photojournalists and non-government organizations (NGOs) document the challenges of refugee populations, the refugees are likewise chronicling themselves and using creative expression to respond to forced displacement.
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Nour Festival in London Features Middle East Visual and Performing Art 20 October Through 6 November

The Arab Puppet Theatre Foundation

Those lucky enough to be in London right now will enjoy a spectacular treasure trove of culture from the Middle East. Each year the city hosts the Nour Festival featuring visual art, literature, music, and performance — this year, from fifteen countries. Appropriately, the themes of this year’s festival focus on topics of displacement and conflicted identity as millions of people are driven from homelands by war forcing them into exile and causing them to face challenges that migration brings. read more