Gaza man masters rare skill of balancing art

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In this Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, photo, Mohammed al-Shenbari demonstrates to balance objects using what he calls a mix of mind and body, in the yard of his home in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip. The 24-year-old self-taught Palestinian artist says he can balance almost any object. "You just need to know the fulcrum of the object and you get it," he said. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

BAYT ḨĀNŪN – Whenever Mohammed al-Shenbari sees a new object, he quickly tries to find its “balancing point” and make it stand in a way that appears to defy the law of gravity.

The 24-year-old self-taught Palestinian artist says he can balance almost any object, using what he calls a mix of mind and body.

This has made him a popular entertainer and frequent participant in psychological support sessions that are common in conflict-ridden, poverty-stricken Gaza.

In the yard of his home in northern Gaza, al-Shenbari stood a chair on one leg, propped two gas canisters on a slanted pipe wrench and balanced an upside-down TV screen on the rim of a Coke bottle.

“You just need to know the fulcrum of the object and you get it,” he said.

A fitness and bodybuilding coach, al-Shenbari says his healthy lifestyle helped him slowly develop “the great focus” required to balance the objects.

“When I do this, I feel something indescribable; like a magnet drawing out energy from me toward the objects,” he said after he stacked four oddly angled cans of beans on a wood frame hanging off a tree.

A year ago, al-Shenbari came across a YouTube video by a Korean balance artist, Nam Seok Byun, and was fascinated by the way the artist arranged layers of rocks delicately supported by round pebbles.