Photo: Dina Haddadin
House 28 on the corner of Rainbow Street is in a state of flux.
The old landlady and her old, bed-ridden husband have passed away. It seems like yesterday she was showing Ahmad Sabbagh and me through the apartment under the main house. That apartment became what I called the “SYNTAX house”. A succession of SYNTAX’s German Bauhaus design interns lived there over the past four years, anchored by couple of Jordanian SYNTAXers: Sabbagh and “Ibra” Oweiss.
The SYNTAX house at one point became the Blouzaat house, as the Blouzaat cross cultural urban art project was born there, complete with a silkscreening workshop in the shed, which stands at the end of the wild garden that stretched in front of the apartment.
This house was already in transformation when Sabbagh found it. For some strange reason, the terrace in front of the apartment was covered with the elaborate tiling typical of older Levantine houses, pointing to the fact that the terrace maybe was a series of rooms at one point.
A very rudimentary metal staircase connected the lower apartment to the upper terrace of the main house, clearly a later, cheaply done, addition.
A blue metal garden gate, more fitting to a workshop.
Like many of Jabal Amman’s houses, this property has something grand about it. A reminder of what I can only guess must’ve been better times. The architectural decay of the house reflected the withering existence of the house’s owners. There is something sad about that neighborhood and such houses, despite the attention they recently attracted through Rainbow’s renewal project. It is a sense of discontinuity. A decline of stature. No new generation to take over the property and keep it alive. Its sadness that perhaps invites re-interpretation.
Now, house 28, with its old landlords gone and its young tenants dispersed again, is getting a new life. It will be converted to a restaurant by one of Amman’s most prominent restauranteurs and restorers of old houses, Zeid Goussous.
But the house’s transformation from residential to commercial has been “interrupted” by a couple of its former tenants (the Blouzat team aka Sabbagh and Typism, or whatever they call themselves at the moment) the people from Interruptions magazine (that’s Khaled Sedki and his ever-shifting “crew”) and architect artist Dina Haddadin, with support from Makan.
Goussous “lent” them the house to make “Counterparts” happen: an art project of painting and installations that will run from 6 March to 20 March 2010.
I drove home yesterday after the well attended opening night with a few bad snapshots on my mobile and a positive inner feeling. A feeling I often get after having spent some time with people in that part of town. For me its not so much about the art itself (although I really liked the work on display) and definitely not about the intellectual muscle flexing in the accompanying texts (they lost me at “Nietzsche’s hammer”
For me it is about the connections created. People to people. People to places. Houses reborn.
Go see it.