You Need To Know About Powerhouse Barakunan
From Beirut to Berlin, How This Literature Collective is Dedicated to Story-Telling Through a Range of Mediums

Barakunan is a multifaceted production involving literature, audio, and film. Striving to coexist as a multichannel platform that dishes out content in various media forms, the publishing house, and media collective has taken its first few steps in the world, launching in 2018. “I want to believe some things can last and can outlive their early hype, if only for the nobility of their practice. Some institutions have—those that stand for something in our increasingly divided, commercially inclined industries have been successful. Integrity destroys cultures of consumerism,” co-founder Dani Arbid tells me. The question isn’t what they’ve done already, but what they’re going to achieve in the next few years if their intentions are to be believed. Inspired initially as an intellectual property franchise of three creatives, Dani Arbid, Sarah Huneidi, and Ramzi Hibri, Barakunan has this funny way of being nothing and everything all at once.

When you sit in on their meetings, some days, you would think they were developing a think-tank, discussing the various ways Barakunan could also serve as a future incubator of ideas in a place wrestling with so many hurdles toward engagement. Other days it’s an art studio, with collaborators, mostly friends, coming in and out of the studio adding their two cents to a work in progress. They make books, but they spend most of their time working on visuals. 

They discuss specific topics with a lot of emotion. Jerusalem, for instance, features heavily in the work. Co-founder Sarah, whose responsibility it is for people to comprehend the narrative, makes the point, “People often forget about the narrative front. The machine does its work, and we aren’t paying attention. Words have lost their meaning. Perception is everything. If we can get people to speak the same language, they can learn to perceive a similar vision.”

The stories are approachable. Their first novel was written by Zahreddine; a pseudonym used decisively by the collective. The Stranger, The Story of Sarah Shamlan, is told from the perspective of a young woman coming of age as she enacts a ritual as old as time itself- migration. While the philosophy and poetry are complicated, at times with so many references, the world that they create is captivating. “Sure, it’s fantasy, but it’s grounded in the world we know. And the world around us is dark,” Dani says. “It’s fantasy, but it’s not.”

The books found an immediate audience in a particular cluster of readers, writers, and artists. They sold on five continents in their first week and can boast a healthy amount of growth in their digital communication over time. They’ve stocked out in Beirut bookstores and are currently growing to some Middle East galleries, bookstores, and museums. But many of the consumers who have bought their books live in scattered urban metropolises across the world. One day they sell in Stockholm the next day in Birmingham, England. The following day, Australia. 

Beirut is home, but Berlin represents the new frontier. A stable base for artistic-political movements that also offers more opportunities for growth. In April, they also had their first event in Beirut, which they styled as an exhibition to their work. Called The Fountain, the exhibit brought together several key archetypes from the story universe, stationing them in a warehouse club just outside of Beirut in nearby Mkalles. The different archetypes transform into visual-textual installations like The Garden, also the house of Zahreddine’s poetry and heart, with plants like a garden and with poetry hanging from the leaves. In a side room, Zahreddine themselves sat at a computer, nestled in the corner of a room, improvising live storytelling. It was interesting to see; it was different. Quietly, they sold books, and people had questions. There was a sense of something different, even if it was quiet and messy.

What is Barakunan saying? What message are they distilling? Dancing until sunrise in a warehouse outside the city facing challenges of the future, underneath a video projection of Zahreddine’s verses from their published The Martyrs. In Berlin this summer, their event was even more outrageous. On the terrace of a gallery that is inside a massive summer. A swimming pool in the heart of Berlin, they had no idea what to expect from the day. “If it had been 20 degrees, as it had been all week, it would have been empty,” Art Director Ghiya Haidar explains. Instead, it was the hottest day of the year and the opening weekend of the pool. Thousands of people passed through the pool doors that day, many of them stopping by Barakunan’s corner of magic.

Two readings, a speech and a garden of poetry filled the appetite of curious Berlin, who is starting to hear the whispers of Zahreddine. Again, they quietly sold books, hoping to spread the message. In mid-July, Barakunan took part in an exhibition dedicated to modern forms of publishing innovation at the Beirut Art Center, alongside household names such as Simone Fattal of the iconic Apollo Press. The exhibition brought together publishers, curators, and artists from all over the world to showcase what they’ve described as new independent models of publishing. They modeled their space, a private room, after a campaign headquarters of a radical political movement. They were dispersing and reinterpreting their work to look and feel as if it was the headquarters of a bunker campaign.

“Our first months were strong, we were pushing. Now we’ve kind of stopped.” However, the big questions are being asked, what’s next? Will they also continue to draw people in through events? For Dani, he’s not sure either. “We’re not sure yet which market will take us. Will it be readers? The followers of a movement? Or will it be art?” Time will tell, and it will be exciting to see where they go next.

You Need To Know About Powerhouse Barakunan
From Beirut to Berlin, How This Literature Collective is Dedicated to Story-Telling Through a Range of Mediums

Barakunan is a multifaceted production involving literature, audio, and film. Striving to coexist as a multichannel platform that dishes out content in various media forms, the publishing house, and media collective has taken its first few steps in the world, launching in 2018. “I want to believe some things can last and can outlive their early hype, if only for the nobility of their practice. Some institutions have—those that stand for something in our increasingly divided, commercially inclined industries have been successful. Integrity destroys cultures of consumerism,” co-founder Dani Arbid tells me. The question isn’t what they’ve done already, but what they’re going to achieve in the next few years if their intentions are to be believed. Inspired initially as an intellectual property franchise of three creatives, Dani Arbid, Sarah Huneidi, and Ramzi Hibri, Barakunan has this funny way of being nothing and everything all at once.

When you sit in on their meetings, some days, you would think they were developing a think-tank, discussing the various ways Barakunan could also serve as a future incubator of ideas in a place wrestling with so many hurdles toward engagement. Other days it’s an art studio, with collaborators, mostly friends, coming in and out of the studio adding their two cents to a work in progress. They make books, but they spend most of their time working on visuals. 

They discuss specific topics with a lot of emotion. Jerusalem, for instance, features heavily in the work. Co-founder Sarah, whose responsibility it is for people to comprehend the narrative, makes the point, “People often forget about the narrative front. The machine does its work, and we aren’t paying attention. Words have lost their meaning. Perception is everything. If we can get people to speak the same language, they can learn to perceive a similar vision.”

The stories are approachable. Their first novel was written by Zahreddine; a pseudonym used decisively by the collective. The Stranger, The Story of Sarah Shamlan, is told from the perspective of a young woman coming of age as she enacts a ritual as old as time itself- migration. While the philosophy and poetry are complicated, at times with so many references, the world that they create is captivating. “Sure, it’s fantasy, but it’s grounded in the world we know. And the world around us is dark,” Dani says. “It’s fantasy, but it’s not.”

The books found an immediate audience in a particular cluster of readers, writers, and artists. They sold on five continents in their first week and can boast a healthy amount of growth in their digital communication over time. They’ve stocked out in Beirut bookstores and are currently growing to some Middle East galleries, bookstores, and museums. But many of the consumers who have bought their books live in scattered urban metropolises across the world. One day they sell in Stockholm the next day in Birmingham, England. The following day, Australia. 

Beirut is home, but Berlin represents the new frontier. A stable base for artistic-political movements that also offers more opportunities for growth. In April, they also had their first event in Beirut, which they styled as an exhibition to their work. Called The Fountain, the exhibit brought together several key archetypes from the story universe, stationing them in a warehouse club just outside of Beirut in nearby Mkalles. The different archetypes transform into visual-textual installations like The Garden, also the house of Zahreddine’s poetry and heart, with plants like a garden and with poetry hanging from the leaves. In a side room, Zahreddine themselves sat at a computer, nestled in the corner of a room, improvising live storytelling. It was interesting to see; it was different. Quietly, they sold books, and people had questions. There was a sense of something different, even if it was quiet and messy.

What is Barakunan saying? What message are they distilling? Dancing until sunrise in a warehouse outside the city facing challenges of the future, underneath a video projection of Zahreddine’s verses from their published The Martyrs. In Berlin this summer, their event was even more outrageous. On the terrace of a gallery that is inside a massive summer. A swimming pool in the heart of Berlin, they had no idea what to expect from the day. “If it had been 20 degrees, as it had been all week, it would have been empty,” Art Director Ghiya Haidar explains. Instead, it was the hottest day of the year and the opening weekend of the pool. Thousands of people passed through the pool doors that day, many of them stopping by Barakunan’s corner of magic.

Two readings, a speech and a garden of poetry filled the appetite of curious Berlin, who is starting to hear the whispers of Zahreddine. Again, they quietly sold books, hoping to spread the message. In mid-July, Barakunan took part in an exhibition dedicated to modern forms of publishing innovation at the Beirut Art Center, alongside household names such as Simone Fattal of the iconic Apollo Press. The exhibition brought together publishers, curators, and artists from all over the world to showcase what they’ve described as new independent models of publishing. They modeled their space, a private room, after a campaign headquarters of a radical political movement. They were dispersing and reinterpreting their work to look and feel as if it was the headquarters of a bunker campaign.

“Our first months were strong, we were pushing. Now we’ve kind of stopped.” However, the big questions are being asked, what’s next? Will they also continue to draw people in through events? For Dani, he’s not sure either. “We’re not sure yet which market will take us. Will it be readers? The followers of a movement? Or will it be art?” Time will tell, and it will be exciting to see where they go next.

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