Biennale of Sydney

MzRizk

MzRisk

MzRizk

Born 1981 in Melbourne, Australia
Lives and works in Melbourne, occasionally interstate and internationally


MzRizk is a musicophile and sound artist, renowned for her ongoing contributions to Melbourne’s rich cultural and music landscape. Her many projects are a distinct blend of music knowledge, creative diversity and cultural and community engagement. As a Melbourne-based DJ, event curator and radio presenter, MzRizk brings together music-loving communities through radio, DJ slots, workshops, venue residencies, festivals, artist support and special events, while continuing to play a pivotal role in connecting music-loving folks across Australia and abroad.

Ahla 2u Sahla simply translates to ’welcome’ in Arabic. We say it when people come into our home. As a second-generation Lebanese residing in Australia, the importance of hospitality and welcoming people into the home was a central familial and cultural value that greatly informed my early years; and the simple act of welcoming underpins my work as a creative.

The Lebanese Civil War ended in 1990, after the Taif Agreement was signed in 1989 in Saudi Arabia. I visited Lebanon for the first time in 1990. I attended an event in a Khayme (tent), during Ramadan, after breaking fast. We are not a Muslim family, however no one asked. As strangers we were welcomed to dance and eat. People smoked shisha until the early hours. I was 9 years old. This memory has been a constant inspiration for my practice – creating safe spaces for community to dance or perform in.

There were still bullet holes in the walls. Tens of thousands of people had been displaced but there was a vibrancy and sense of defiantly living life to the full. People were still eating, drinking, dancing and coming together despite life’s hardships, made possible by spaces that welcomed. I saw hospitality and pride despite the war, poverty and inconveniences of life. It was a celebration in the face of intense adversity. Even the Lebanese Revolution of 2019 – which is still continuing as I write this in 2020 – uses dance and music instead of violence for most of its protests. Instead of guns they set up a DJ booth in Tripoli. Art is an experience, it can also be respite from life’s daily struggles while reflecting the times – peaceful or political.

Inequality, lack of diverse voices, underrepresentation of women of colour, people of colour and LGBTQIA+ people in all parts of our society. Music is a language of the world; it knows no borders or boundaries and it is a way that people from all over can connect. Whenever I curate / produce events, soundscapes or perform live, I want these to offer respite for everyone who attends or listens – particularly marginalised communities.

Growing up in Australia, I have been reminded that Lebanese people are seen in the western world through the lens of violence, extremism and exotic otherness. But our food is delicious. Offering an alternative lens, the reality of who we are through music, dance or conversation is how I protest and support those that are considered ‘other’.

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