Between Poet and Popstar: How Remie Akl Embodies the Rebellious Spirit

A look into the Lebanese artist’s creative practice

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A singer, visual artist, poet, and actress, Remie Akl is by all means a force to be reckoned with. The brown-haired, sharp-lipped Lebanese artist is a rebel too. Irrespective the medium, her witted, and unapologetic rebellion against all forms of injustice shows through. Patriarchal mentalities, corrupt systems, and social media are first on a list of subjects she’s tackled so far—and it seems, she’s just getting started. 

It’s only in 2020 that Akl caught the eye of a wider audience. But in Lebanon, her poignant words, published in a series of five videos at the height of the October revolution of 2019 had made her an illustrious figure amongst the Middle Eastern nation’s defiant youth. 

The 28-year-old has garnered over 70,000 followers on Instagram since then, and whilst her poetry remains centric to the majority of her work, she’s attributed to herself the qualities of a rising pop artist with a music video for her single ‘Unfollow Me’. Working with an exclusively Arab cast and crew to produce it, the Ain el-Remmaneh native is seen dancing to a commercial tune as she belts light-hearted lyrics, akin to pop culture’s typical love-song tropes. 

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من مسلسل #بمبي_حبيبي لا تلاحقني على #انستقرام | UNFOLLOW ME Creator Me Music by @michel_fadel_official Mixing and Mastering by @rogerabiakl at Michel Fadel Studio Producer @lilianeelsous Choreographer @lea_haj Dancers: @lea_haj @lilia.haj @lourdesantoury @zghorayeb @hannah.fakih @alaakhowly @mayysssaa @nehmat.ak Actresses: @mandvazzi @tatianaghaleb @tracybboutros @mariaaouad53 @is.that.mel @bitaryara Co-Director @tarekbc Dop @aline.ouais Editor @jeannassif Second Ad @jowzak Production designer @ola.ach Vintage collector and stylist @instayelo Art Director @saratothemoun Make up artist @samanthasfx Nail artist @krystel_chalhoub Hair styling @paceeluce @issa._.tony Remie’s outfit @rouba.g Set decorator @naoumlahoud Assistant wardrobe stylist @maissabirizk Assistant Art Director @nourmoundalek Make up Assistant @krissytoubia Props masters @violetteouais @mountahaawkar Oriental accessories @antsinsta Production manager @sokhen.amar Production coordinator @sandybelle70 Catering @sbeityservices Location @venueverde @gaby_bejjani Graphic designer @farahelsamman Animator @m_saade Color grading @pixelmob.lb Colorist @dimageagea Sound man @jadtannous92 Boom Operator @charbelmf Photographer @abdo_elali Making of @abdo_elali @georgesaade4 E-loader @chaynahatem Focus puller @cine.mario Camera ass @wiamzeid Gaffer Bob Hekri Key grip Toni Dagher Lighting assistants Mark Naser Georges Estephan Jeff El Khoury Jean Pierre Bitar Mossaad Kassem Equipment rental @mediasquare.tv إنتاج عقل الصوص

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“It is intended as a simple, quick, sarcastic and entertaining message to lovers,” Akl explained in a statement upon releasing the music video. In the same statement, she also made her artistic practice clear. “I’m not a singer, I’m not a dancer, I’m not an actress and I’m not a director, I am an art performer and a digital visual storyteller.”

The music video was released in June, 2020. Fast forward to August 4, just hours before the Beirut explosion, Akl published another piece of work, titled ‘Musical Pause’, where she returned to her labyrinth of classical Arabic contention, with a visual story calling on the Lebanese youth to consider their lifestyles and take anti-governmental action

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This video was released few hours before Beirut explosion when i was feeling that we (Lebanese) were not taking our bad economical political situation seriously . We were continuing our life, 3adeh when the dollar was beyond raising when our country was collapsing when the revolution and our amendments were forgotten . And when we were not taking action. And then the Explosion took place . And broke our Hearts . But nothing major has changed . Yet. We are still في قعر البحر. With no real initiative to نفوش. Creator Me Producer @lilianeelsous Dop @karimghorayeb Editor @omarllmasri Art Director @ola.ach Assistant camera @chaynahatem Equipment @marounkhoury23 Translation @gregorymuyesseroglu Production assistant @omarinho_bk Warm thanks @maenzakaria كلماتي: صرلي فترة بقول بحكي ما بحكي بحكي ما بحكي بسكت بكزدر بالسيارة انا ورفيقتي برجع بسكت صرت دخّن صرت سب ارجع اسكت اوقات صرت اشبع بلا ما آكل وبس ما آكل ما بقدر نام وما عم نام صوّرت كتير فيديوز عن الثورة حلمت كل يوم بالثورة ابتسمت كل يوم ثورة قلت انو خلص اجا النهار ال رح نغيّر في معتقد خط التماس ايديولوجيّجة السلاح عقيدة الله حزب زعيم قدس ولهلّق ما صار شي لي ما صار شي؟ لي ما صار شي لأنّك بتحب تاكل خس كل ايام الجمعة تسهر نهار السبت تنفزر نهار الاحد ترجع تاكل خس التنين لي ما صار شي؟ لأنك مستسلم قليل خصيّة خويّف جبان بطاطا بتنجان من زعيمك بس قوّي عليّ لي ما صار شي؟ لأنك ناسي انو وجعك وجعي وجعي وجعك ونازل بوجّي بس حاطط وجّو لي ما صار شي؟ لأنو راضخ قليل مروّة سئيل ب ‏pararappapa غسيل دماغ زعيمك مافي لي ما صار شي؟ لي ما صار شي لأنك بتحب تنق تجوع تمد ايدك عالكوع تاخد ايعاشة اوّل ما حدا يجبلك سيرة لبنان … تهرب… تهجر… تطير متل العصافير وأوّل ما توصل عبلد شهير كمان ما تحب لأنّك لبناني وتخبّرن عن لبنان القلب القلب وتبكي وتشتاق لإمك وريحة ضيعتك وتختك انت شو قلّي انسان حيوان ام شيء؟ #ثورة #ثورة_لبنان

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“Why did change not happen? Because you’d rather eat lettuce every day of the week. Get drunk on Saturdays. Feast on Sundays. Go back to eating lettuce on Monday,” reads the poem. “Why has nothing happened? Because you’ve given up. Lazied Up. Afraid and cowardly,” she continued. 

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@maenzakaria Creator: @remieakl Producer: @lilianeelsous DOP: @aline.ouais Editor: @lynnjbeily Assistant camera : @chaynahatem Translation: @gregorymuyesseroglu Dear President Thank you so much Thank you so much Mr. President For I can’t seem to fall asleep at night Thank you so much Mr. President For I no longer smile like the day Thank you so much Mr. President For I have forgotten my children’s birthdays Nour and Lilia Or buried-the-lead Thank you so much Mr. President For because of you, they were deprived of cake, a candle, a wish Thank you so much Mr. President For that I can no longer educate them so they can ponder… dream Thank you so much Mr. President For because of you, certain foods they cannot even eat Thank you so much Mr. President For my wife can no longer stand me facing her, as I am idle, Unemployed Thank you so much Mr. President For we’re going to lose my youngest brother The brains As the airports open up Thank you so much For a future worse than the past And a present that has no future Thank you so much Mr. President For everything And If the word “President” got to you Forgive me For I, am meer breathing specie Who does not know if was a human, animal or just a thing… But thanks the president For everything

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Just two weeks later, on August 18, Akl directed her words to the Lebanese president in a film. “Dear President, we only hope for one thing: that you leave,” she wrote. The film that followed was directed at the remainder of Lebanon’s corrupt leaders.  

What’s to come from her in the future? We can only guess that, whatever it may be, it won’t be short of rebellious.

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