Tony Chakar is a Lebanese architect and writer/storyteller whose work incorporates literature, philosophy, and theory. Chakar’s works have been included in numerous international exhibitions such as the 31st São Paulo Biennial, with Of Other Worlds That Are in This One (2014), and in the Kiev Biennial (The School of Kyiv) with All That Is Solid Melts into Air (2015). Chakar contributes to art and architecture magazines and teaches history of art and architecture at the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts, Bei The world news is replete with reports on how ISIL, or ISIS, is destroying the complex social fabric of the Levant by attacking, predominantly, its Christian minorities. In these reports, the emphasis is almost always on the graphic and violent nature of ISIL’s acts, placing them in an apolitical barbaric space, or outside of the now-time in a Medieval temporality.
Meanwhile, what has been overlooked for more than a century is what can be called “Catholic normativity,” where the values and ideas of the Catholic Church hegemonically constitute what it means to be “truly Christian.” This normativity has been internalized by many of the churches in the Levant and Egypt, sometimes leading to the systematic destruction of iconographical and liturgical traditions that date back to the early days of Christianity.
What is also being overlooked is that both ISIL and Catholic normativity are products of the great homogenizing forces of capital, through modernity. Consequently, in order to produce some meaning, it is the cataclysmic powers of modernity that are to be addressed, and not the ready-made, media-friendly subject-shifter categories such as “radical Islam” or “minorities.” Image: Armenian Icon of the Last Supper. Courtesy of Erevan, Matenadaran, MS 316, Gospel, Arts'akh, XIVth century, Last Supper. Photo: Ara Güler.