Abandoned dwellings of Beirut
From 14 November to 5 January 2020

For 150 years, Beirut has experienced successive periods of unbridled growth, war, economic and social crisis and migratory flows. It is against this background –  of unceasing populating, destruction, rebuilding, disintegration and recomposition – that Gregory Buchakjian wrote, from 2009 to 2016, on a doctoral thesis on neglected buildings vowed to inevitable demolition, coupled with an artistic approach to the same phenomenon.

The research included the utopian attempt to inventory this building stock: nearly 750 residential buildings, hotels and houses scattered throughout the city were listed in a database. Parallel with this, the author produced photographic documentation, collected testimonies and, with Valérie Cachard, gathered from out of the rubble hundreds of official documents, photographs, postcards, greeting cards, letters and other personal effects, revealing the lives of the former inhabitants.

The exhibition circuit alternates the documentary aspect, in the form of an overview of the architectural typologies and an investigation of a specific place, with a performance approach via images in which people inhabit again neglected spaces, and a video in which Buchakjian and Cachard breathe life into the archives collected in these places slowly falling into ruin.

The exhibition also includes a work by Fouad Elkoury and is accompanied by the publication in limited edition of a text by Oliver Rohe.

Gregory Buchakjian is an art historian and trans-disciplinary visual artist. He lives and works in Beirut, where he was born in 1971. Political instability and ruin are among the issues tackled by his doctoral dissertation at the University of Paris IV Sorbonne. His research and work revolve around issues of the city and history, in Beirut, Lebanon and the Arab world. The interplay of image and narrative is omnipresent in his works. He directs the School of Visual Arts at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (Alba).

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