These burning/moving texts are poetic fragments, and sketches, nourished by the visions and experiences of Biba Sheikh, nomadic American writer and artist of Lebanese origin, living now in Detroit. THe book was commissioned by Transcultures – Belgium and the European Pepinieres of Creation network in the framework of the “No Lockdown Art” initiative (to support artists during the Covid-19 pandemic related lockdown)
This ‘akashic journal’ (from the Sanskrit, ‘Akasha’ – the unwritten history, the hidden meaning, the psychic keep) began during the lockdown of 2020. However, the texts within these pages bridge into various poetic entries and styles, written sometimes from the shocking events (including the murder of Georges Floyd) which divided American society. Some entries are meant as acts of healing.
This is the first book by Biba Sheikh, which also has a section of some older powerful writings, between fragmentation of being and possible resilience.
Philippe Franck, cultural critic, director of Intermedia Centre Transcultures in Belgium and contemporary arts network Pépinières européennes de Création wrote the introduction of the book to put these ‘crisis writings’ into this very particular context.
Roger Hallam, activist, founder of “Extinction Rebellion” climate action and “Burning Pink” anti-political party wrote the foreword.
Audio part of his hybrid project, the ‘Akashic Diaries’ album (released by the Transonic label) features texts (from the eponymous book) read by Biba Sheikh on soundscapes by Paradise Now.
Bibah Sheikh (Lb/USA)
Habibah Sheikh began studying mime with Marcel Marceau in Paris and later with members of the Polish Laboratory Theater of Jerzy Grotowski. She developed vocal work in relation to voice anthropologist, Jorge Lopez, who researched singing methods from indigenous tribes of south america. She has a nomadic existence and has gathered inspiration for her storytelling & performance art from a number of different cultures: USA, Paris, Sevilla (with the Gypsy/Roma population), Berlin, Amsterdam, Beirut, and Greece. Habibah lovingly says that Greece is her place of catharsis. There she set up a platform with 13 artists from the Mediterranean, who make visual works based on her stories and theater pieces, which she began writing during her journey with vulnerable populations with the “abandoned children” of Lebanon. After the war left these young people alone, Habibah felt a strong responsibility in order to help them find their voices through storytelling platforms.
The project titled, “Mitli Mitlak (Like You, Like Me)” is a visual and literary exhibition, and theatre production where art- works are based on the theater scripts of ‘Right To Live, as well as “Mitli Mitlak”. This ongoing interdisciplinary project is produced by Habibah’s global arts company, Mediterranean Fire Studio, in collaboration with the Third Avenue Playhouse, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. January-March 2019 and taking place at N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, Detroit 2018. Central Michigan University Art Gallery, 2019, Miller Art Museum, Wisconsin, 2019, Peeler Art Center, Depauw Indiana, 2020. Sponsors include the National Endowment for the Arts, The State of Wisconsin, and other business sponsors.
She has a series of writings related to the Civil War of Lebanon, Syrian Refugee plights, Andalusian Gypsies, and the Greek Crisis.
Her work is featured in the film, ‘Citizen Xenos’, by Lucas Paleocrassas, which follows life in refugee camps, where refugees, engaged in theater and voice workshops, express what they had endured. She is devoted to vocal interpretation, acting, and poetic text. The physical and vocal interpretations are further accentuated by years of personal Flamenco study.
Recently, the theater production, ‘I Am the Small Seed’ was developed in an Art Residency at the Born Global Foundation. Musical segments are in collaboration with sound artist Paradise Now (Fr/Be). It provides Habibah Sheikh the possibility to devise a unique method of storytelling and theater, where a game-like structure contains healing acts, and can be performed by actors and non actors alike. It has been performed in Lebanon, Scotland, and the USA. She is currently writing, performing and producing, ‘Nomadic Poetic Stories (How I Opened My Heart Through the Extinction of Mime, the Miracles in Paris, and Meetings With a Mysterious Man, Across the World)’ featuring Chinese musician Xia Dong Wei.
Her first book, “Akashic Diaries: Detroit Degree Zero and Other Crisis Writings’ is released in Spring 2023 on Europia Productions (Paris). It is accompanied by a sound art/poetry album comprising readings and vocalizations of the some of “Akashic Diaries” texts, in collaboration with sound artist/producer Paradise Now.
Paradise Now (Fr/Be)
Intermedia producer and creator based in Belgium, Philippe Franck has developed since the 90s the Paradise Now project which favors an actively transversal and collaborative approach. He favors a sensitive and cinematic approach that embraces different influences and fields (electronics, sound art, post-rock, post-pop, improvised music …).
He has worked closely with various videographers (Régis Cotentin, Hanzel & Gretzel), poets (Ira Cohen, Gerard Malanga, Catrine Godin, Biba Sheikh, Werner Moron in Les ours bipolaires, Eric Therer for the project & Stuff), choreographers (Nadine Ganase , Manon Oligny, Karine Ledoyen), digital artists (Philippe Boisnard, Franck Soudan, Jacques Urbanska, Thomas Israël) and other adventurous audio creators (recently Christophe Bailleau within the duo Pastoral, Gauthier Keyaerts in Supernova, Stephan Dunkelman, Maurice Charles JJ, A Limb).
Since 2005, he has also collaborated with holistic performer / masseuse Isa Belle for a series of installations and “sound” performances shown in numerous festivals, cultural centers and international events. He has also produced and participated in several records on various independent labels (Sub Rosa, Optical Sound, Transonic…). In 2022, he began a doctoral thesis in Information and Communication Sciences (Cognition, language, interaction) at the University of Paris 8 (CiTu Paragrahe), under the dual supervision of Khaldoun Zreik (Paris8) and Marc Veyrat (University of Savoie Mont Blanc).
- May 2023 – ebook and paper format
- Europia productions
- Europia Productions, with the support of the European Pepinieres of Creation and Transcultures.