Rima Najdi, aka Madame Bomba, recently gained attention by walking around Beirut with a mock TNT strapped around her. Based in Berlin, she got tired of Lebanon’s volatile situation and decided to take things into her own hands. She walked around Manara, Down Town, Gemayzeh, Spinneys, Ashrafieh, Ras el Nabe3 and Hamra. I ‘sat down’ with her and asked her a few questions.
Why did you decide to walk around with a mock TNT bomb? What do you hope comes out of it?
My decision to walk around with a mock TNT bomb came out of the political situation that we live in Lebanon and especially after the two bombs – I won’t say last since one just happened today in Hermel – that exploded within a week of one another. The constant looking for where another bomb might be hidden made me paranoid and terrified. As a performance artist, I thought that it was time to act.
The doing part is a key to any performance. What I hoped to get from it was to express my own personal fears and illusions as well as our collective ones. Responses after each bomb vary between sadness, heroism, pointing fingers and asking the whys and the hows. Citizens always want to know the truth.
I don’t know if they are really aware that the only ultimate truth is death.
How were people reacting?
People’s reactions varied between scared, angry, taking photos, indifferent, looking for a hidden camera, and even flirtatious.
Did you find any difficulties?
Difficulties were mostly before the intervention. I had to face my own fears, which would never have happened without familiar faces supporting me – Maria Kassab, Rayya Kazoun, Sandy Chamoun, Roy Dib, Dana Dia, Maria & Raya, Rayya El Zein, my brother Ahmad Najdi, Yalda Younes and Sawsan Abou Khaled. They forced me to go on with the performance.
I enjoyed interacting with people. I enjoy interactivity in general. We had taken the decision to avoid any problems during the performance. That meant not arguing with people, regardless of how aggressive or afraid they became.
What message would you like to send out to Lebanon’s youth?
Well, it’s not really a message. I was just protesting the normalization of death. This intervention taught me that acts of speech only reveal your opinion when you are safe. You are not really risking anything other than being un-friended on Facebook.
I like Facebook and its social aspect, but it’s still a virtual platform. It’s not real life. It’s great that you’re able to connect with people of different opinions, ages, groups and classes, but still, how much are any of us really venturing into that world?
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