CHANGE UNIVERSE: Magazine Jewels
Brussels | DesignDecember 5, 2009

Finding One’s Origins

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" I sent my soul through the invisible, some letter of that afterlife to spell; and by and by my soul returned to me, and answered, "I myself am Heav'n and Hell"” Omar Khayyam I was born in Milan, I have a Brazilian nationality, a Spanish  passport, and I live part time in new York when seasons  bloom. My father is from Lebanon his parents from Siria, my mother is from Lebanon as well and her father and mother are respectively from Turkey and Spain. I have decided to take a break and spend sometime at my parent's home in Brussels located in the charming neighborhood of Ixelles. Their house is a landmark duplex with South West bright sun exposure in a  light greyardoise facade built in the 70s with interesting Art Deco style balconies. On the entrance hall, beautiful white Thassos marble from Greece, framed by a border designed in neoclassic black onix unmistakably capture one's attention. The brightness of the white marble is enhanced  by a aligned procession of  small  halogen lamps strategically placed in different parts of the roof. I take my shoes off, with my camera I amuse myself to observe the different details around this hall. A Persian carpet probably dating from the beginning of the century with a central motif representing a small house, maybe a synagogue, maybe a mosque near a tree that looks clearly like a Pinus Haleppensis typical of that region, lies in the center of this piece. At my right a lacquered chest from Japan where on top my parents keep a  collection of equally Japanese smaller boxes also in lacquer, and a pair of original  containers giving the impression of being wood vases or lacquered baskets whose presence is  fundamental in  an Ikebana composition. The sculpture at the end of the hall is placed on a pedestal in from of an Italian contemporary canvas by Toti Shaloya my mother says is Roman, and dates of the 2 century after Christ,she precises  looking straight in my eyes that if it dated 2centuries before Christ the sculpture would be Greek. Without my shoes, I walk to the bibliotheque ( library) the most popular room of the whole duplex and this is because it's the place where all the family spends most of the time. It's cozy, warm and has a  very equipped collections of art,  non-history  fiction books and last 40 years of hard cover and paperback  best sellers all in French. The tones of the room are warm  Mediterranean oranges as to give a harsh contrast to the portfolio of greys typical of the Belgian capital weather. The two armchairs facing the window are upholstered in red satin and colorful trimmings and a very thin wool with Persian and Indian paisley motifs coming from the celebre Milanese house Etro in the neighborhood of Brera where I was born. The carpet on the floor I brought very proudly a few years ago in a small suitcase from Istambul it's a Bessarabian. While  looking down and noticing pleased that my crimson cashmere slippers fit perfectly with the surrounding atmosphere of colors and textures , I decide to take a look at the local newspaper " Le Soir". An ivory inlay mirror on the illuminated shelf, probably brought from my same trip in Istambul, still emanating the aroma of fresh sandalwood after so many years, is distracting me from reading the paper. My portrait is reflected through the glass and I can't help asking myself the same question... Where exactly am I coming from? Without reasoning too much I go back to my reading and realize that one of the most acclaimed movies of the moment just came out. It's called " Le Concert". "Considered the greatest conductor of the 80's, during Brejnev's rule, Andrei Filipov was shamefully cast aside for supporting Jewish musicians, defying orders from the Soviet regime. 30 years later, Filipov still works at Moscow's largest theater, the Bolchoi, but as a cleaner, and is profoundly affected by the degradation of the orchestra's performing level....." I lift my eyes and my gaze stops over the Italian painter, Michele Cashella canvas on the opposite wall of the library, dated from the 1960.It depicts a Californian seaside landscape in early springtime where most of the area is covered by a large tree explosion of yellow Mimosa. Next to this image in my mind, my eyes travel back to the shelf where a picture of my daughter and I lay behind a bouquet of dried Lavander interlaced beautifully with a  light orange cotton ribbon made from the region of Provence in South of France. Back to the newspaper I read more about the film  " One night, after an umpteenth rebuttal from the administrator from whom he was requesting his old position back, Filipov discovers a fax sent by the famous Parisian Chatelet Theater's manager, inviting the Bolchoi to play in Paris two weeks later. The old conductor has a ludicrous idea: with his wife's help, he hopes to bring his old musician friends together to travel to Paris and pose as the prestigious orchestra. Four years after his heart-wrenching «Live and Become», Jewish-Romanian-born French director Radu Mihaileanu further develops a theme which seems dear to him - positive imposture - and weaves an dashing drama, between tears and laughter, confronting the contradictions of modern Russia to the discreet Western world of classical music." I decide the movie is just what I need at the moment. I cross quickly the bright yellow walled salon. An Austrian symbolist painting portrays a lady with a a gold necklace and dark and mysterious expression  almost as she's coming from another world. It's a " gaze " from another hidden dimension, one we are constantly looking to discover or to penetrate... The movie, by Romanian director Mihaileanu (Train de Vie, Live and Become) has a knack for telling warm human stories about the dispossessed of all kinds including identity. The beautiful Melanie Laurent,  (fresh from her breakout role in Inglourious Bastards) as young French violinist Anne-Marie Jacquet, confides to Andrey Filipov (Guscov) at a candlelight dinner before the concert in Paris, that when she plays her violin , she is constantly seeking for the " gaze "of her parents,  presumably killed on an airplane crush in the European Alps . Andrei will conduct Tchaikovsky himself – and he insists on having  Anne-Marie Jacquet as his soloist. We see from the start that there is a ghost from the past linking Andrei, Anne-Marie and her over-protective agent, Guylene (Miou Miou) – but it takes almost two hours to finally unravel it. the first third of the film, mostly set in Moscow, zips along entertainingly, with the rounding-up-of-the-musicians sequence providing some nice moments and some lively " gypsi-ness." The word 'Gypsy' derives from 'Egyptian, the same as the Spanish Gitano or the French Gitan. It emerged in Europe, in the 15th century, after their migration into the land of the Romani people (or Roma) in that continent. They received this name from the local people either because they spread in Europe from an area named Little Egypt, in the Southern Balkans or because they fit the European image of dark-skinned Egyptians skilled in witchcraft. When they first arrived at numerous places in Europe they claimed to be from Egypt, and required to travel for seven years as penance for apostacy. Around the ninety-minute mark, though, Andrei finally lifts the baton and the concert begins. From here on in The Concert is pure weepie pleasure – and a brilliant, old-fashioned lesson in how a piece of music can be used cinematically to carry and mold an audience’s emotions. And through the power of the universal sound of music tuned coincidentally or not into a Tchaikovsky composition, the fate of Anne Marie's past is at last instinctively unraveled. And looking around while she's playing in front of a crowed room,  at the intense expression of these peculiar and un-traditional musicians who have brilliantly aligned as per enchantment in a complete harmony to her solo violin representing one of the world's most legendary orchestras,  she finally realizes in a climax of her true origins, briefly reflected in the momentum like a glimpse of light standing out from a dense darkness coming from afar. Back home before just before dinner time , I stroll once more around my parent's rooms...  A large book on  the Persian poet Omar Kahayyam is quite inviting,  and at this moment like Anne Marie Jaquet, I still seek for inspiration... Very carefully not to damage the beautiful ceramic Art Deco vase, I lift the heavy book and lay it on top of an old Sirian mother-of- pearl inlay commode where a picture of my maternal grand-mother Sara from Izmir portrays her holding proudly a baby , me, in her arms  few weeks after I was born. And like the sound of a cello from this afternoon ,  still vivid in my mind,  I read from the poet a quote that accidentally falls under my eyes . My gaze then travels to the  bright light of the Shabbat candles , like a violin , a piano or a tambourine, they evoke the original melody from a distant land... the journey is the one through  the hidden DNA of my own soul. Shabbat Shalom Joelle's Tips: The Film: Le Concert by  Radu Mihaileanu - Watch the trailer Photos courtesy: Guy Ferrandis © 2009 - Les Productions du Trésor January 1, 2010 : comment " Bonne anne a tous . Je voudrais commenecer cette annee en dediant ma premiere pensee a ma fille, Joelle que j'ai la chance d'avoir parmis nous en ce debut d'anee. Pourquoi  Elle ecrit de si beaux articles en sublimant personnages, lieux de beaute et de reves , qui mieux que sa maman pour s' ocuper d elle. Qui de vous n'as pas reve en voyant les images somptueses, en lisant ses textes amusants et inhabituels. Qui de nous n'est pas sorti de son quotidien en voyageant a Venise, Prague, Capri et Naples? Sa reussite est du a son grand coeur. Elle donne a tout le monde avec generosite , spontaneite, et beacaup d'amour. Puisse-t -elle continuer dans la vie comme dans ce quel fait avec bonheur et serenite. Amen. " Jaqueline Maslaton

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