- Artist Lamia Joreige
- Title Beirut, Autopsy of a City
- Date 2010
- Medium Mixed media
This project proposes possible reconciliations between the task of the archaeologist and that of the poet, between modern images and ancient texts. Through multiple media, the installation retells stories of the conquests, defeats and natural disasters that have shaped and disfigured Beirut, leaving the viewer to wander amid narratives that point to the impossibility of constructing a grand history.
The first chapter, 'A history of Beirut’s possible disappearance', presents elements from various epochs, juxtaposed and overlapping in what appears to be a timeline; it constitutes poetic associations between image and text, weaving intertemporal relations between its elements. Such fragments question the validity of a complete and comprehensive chronicle and propose fictionalized narratives instead.
The second chapter, 'Beirut, 1001 views', is a large projection of an expansive view of the city. The image comprises an amalgam of photographs taken at various times, each referring to a specific moment in history. It is a fictive representation of Beirut that simultaneously embodies different historical periods, and thus is neither a past nor a present image but one that reflects nonlinear time. In a single frame, a nineteenth-century ship floats in a photograph of the sea from the 1950s, under a menacing 1980s skyline.
The third chapter, 'Beirut, 2058', projects the remnants of past anxiety onto a future apocalyptic realm. A narrator speaks of innumerable troubles that seem to have culminated in a catastrophe, eradicating all signs of life. An image of a seemingly calm coastline hides an effaced cityscape.