Chadi Aoun

Samt. Muteness. The absence of words, of noise, of reflection. When the dust settles in, and brings to a stillness our ability to see all the questions that need to be asked. The dust settles in a thick veil, on a city that we love. A city that was meant to bring people together, but instead, it is closing more and more on itself, its people growing indifferent to one another. The city becomes a space where change is either frightening or unwanted, hence forbidden.

Ghabra (Arabic word for dust) is that city; a city that lost its colors to politics. Only every so often a noise can be heard, voices are raised and unrest follows. Before the dust settles back in, a window flings open, through which questions are asked in the face of an established status quo.

Our story unfolds in the city of Ghabra, as much as it unfolds in Beirut, Jerusalem, Aleppo, Cairo or Baghdad. As much as it unfolds in me or in you.

Karen Chekerdjian

Karen Chekerdjian’s video essay walks us through her work that is deeply connected to the city of Beirut, her home and inspiration. Karen invites the spectators to sit on stools designed by her to explore the links between the city and her work.

Beirut for her is a place of constant contradictions. It is a place where she works in a temporary state of flux and oscillation. Ambiguity has always been the most apparent aspect of her work. Chekerdjian believes that everything is transient and can transform itself anytime. Nothing is unswerving. Only change and transformation are constant.

Through the video, the artist takes us on a journey to show us “her” Beirut a place from which at one time she wanted to get as far away as possible; and later coming to the realization that the distance only brought her closer to the essential, to what the Orient has to say, to what designing means for her.

Charbel Fakhry

The installation represents the coming to life of wine in Lebanon. Standing on a green area solely and especially created to showcase the gems of the Lebanese countryside, this installation represents the creation of a new line of work for cannabis farmers in the Bekaa.

t shows an evolution from cannabis growing to wine production, a true story of Couvent Rouge, the winery behind this installation. As they say, necessity is the mother of all invention and although wine is an old trade, the creation of Couvent Rouge, stems from an idea to replace illicit cannabis plantation with vine production, while securing adequate and legal job opportunities for farmers of cannabis.

It highlights the transformation of land from the unlawful to the permissible while preserving the livelihood of farmers and their families, and the story of empowerment of farmers of cannabis, to give them a more acceptable alternative to their vocation , to preserve nature and finally to create economic growth through wine making and wine trade.

Johnny Farah

In his home country, the artist finds himself with incredible potential for greatness that remains undiscovered and that seeks to be released into the world. Farah believes in the power of craftsmanship of Lebanese artisans, which despite being underappreciated and neglected, matches in its quality international standards.

However, the mishap of devaluation of this type work took its toll. Although being the weavers of art and the creators of signature pieces, artisans across the country feel unable to reap what they sow with their creativity and craftsmanship. As such, they migrate receiving greater opportunities, security of trade as well as recognition in exile.

The Atelier aspires to display artisans practicing their vocation and exhibit mastery of a craft to which they dedicated their life, hoping to trigger a wave of admiration amongst the crowd and to get them inspired to engage with artisanal work.

Dimitri Haddad

They say fear is passed on from one generation to another. This raises questions: “Do fear and discrimination spiral through our veins? Are we taught to divide Beirut between us and them, the West and the East before we can even crawl to the other side?”

There was a time, when Beirut had an invincible but not so invisible line, where buildings were wounded and abandoned. The line drained the very blood that pumped life into its vessels, the blood of the people. The evil track gave both sides death and grief and grew green out of bloody soil.

This panoramic photograph of Beirut exhibits the neutrality in a land that, unlike its people is the same, with minor differences on all sides. In the photograph, there are no bullets, no differences and no wars. It’s the delusional illusion of Beirut: peaceful and serene.

But the work begs the question, is the line still there? Does the memory of armed men shooting at trespassers still haunt the minds of the people? Are the war generation who hid pills in white tissues in their wallets hovering with their psychological traumas on Beirut? Are we still unwittingly divided?

Youssef Haidar

This visual masterpiece is based on a love affair illustrated through a collection of images and scenes of the city, showing the observer its beauty and uniqueness. This love affair leaves the artist restless and consumed by passion towards his favorite place; an effervescent city that has always had and still has so much to offer, and whose flames never ceased to shimmer in the face of roaring winds and dreadful tempests.

The artist shows us what he loves through photographs and videos. While triggering our senses, the mere presence of these visuals lures us into an entire universe of Beirut’s streets, trees, buildings and facades. The imagery uncovers traces of what time has left on the body of the city only to show us its immaculate splendor as seen by the artist. The work is a manuscript commemorating and celebrating a love story lived through fleeting moments, colors and light; one that will outlive the artist but not his lover.

Abdallah Hatoum

The piece exudes the history behind the façade and emits the essence of Beirut through the replication of its monuments of war.

Just as metal warps in fearless heat, Beirut battled with warfare for years eventually melting into miniature mausoleums to the conflict, scattered across its avenues, draped in the deformities that derived from shuddering bursts of violence; whether it be fights, bullets or explosions. The metal mural portrays Beirut as more than just a city, more than just a land tattooed by enmity and violence.

The piece seeks to immortalize old Beirut and celebrate its cityscape in its former glory. The face of Beirut that is disappearing day after day to be replaced by a younger mask of jagged glass, steel and money.

The desire behind the sculpture is one that hopes to preserve an image of Beirut that is not yet forgotten and must
not be.

Elie Moubarak

This sculptural piece centers on a impassive column molded to form an arch. Inspired by the Roman temple in Baalbek, the proud arch stands tall with an imposing gravitas. But behind a veneer of ancient strength, lies the brittle reality of a fragile core, symbolic of the inner and outer personas of the Lebanese people. The artist aims to shed light on the prospective change and promising opportunities that the people can create for their lives away
from the ordinary and mundane.

The cavity, by allowing the passage between the two columns, represents the duality of our lives in Lebanon: the fleeting bliss and the abrupt terror. The arch represents the passage between the old and the new, the familiar and the modern, and finally between the safe and the unsettling. The walk through the arch symbolizes the hardship that must be overcome in order to remain in and belong to Lebanon. Through their vivacity, hope and determination, the people of Lebanon were always shaken by afflictions but never defeated.

The Mukhi Sisters

The end of all ends, dark and deadly. Although trapped in dimness, the black box is flecked with peepholes like the bullet holes that once whistled past the city walls. Bearing the burden of the past and the fear of the future, these open wounds are the bloodied scars of people who suffered through more than 30 years of recurrent wars.

Looking through the peepholes will take you to a better world, to a hopeful present and a prosperous future. What lies behind the darkness, in the sanctity of the black box, is the peace one can find in the colors of the sunset.

The black box requires you to step close and be intimate with it to show you its magnificence. It will let you in on all its secrets and will take your breath away with its beautiful core in colors of the sky that melt, wed and transfuse.

This piece is an ode to Beirut, the city that lost many of its sons and daughters to death and the diaspora but never for once lost hope. To a city that despite choking on the blood of its people and in spite the paralyzing wounds, never stopped living. The city that will not submit to fears and will not answer to threats, intoxicated by the love of life, filled with the energy of youthful dreamers and fertile like wet soil.

Anthony Sahyoun

Inspired by the chaotic noise of Beirut, this piece aims to capture the voice of Beirut, the rhythm with which people move and the daily melodies of a bustling city and what remains unheard and untold, through the voice of its people. This piece aims to portray the people of Beirut through their words, noise and sighs. The words that come out the mouth of the man on the street compose themselves into the wanting, needful voice of Beirut hungering with desire for change.

This industrial soundscape meshes discarded rules that Beirut never learnt and that the people enjoy breaking everyday by cutting the line, honking at passing cars, or yelling out at passersby. This hymn is the shriek of misplaced buildings, of old Beirut streets, of sun swollen roads and crowded highways. To portray this cacophony naturally, is to observe it, deconstruct it and recreate an idealistic version of how everything isn’t but should be.

To exhibit the sound of Beirut, the artist merges the cranking sounds of the industrial and the heaving hearts of Beirutis to present a truly synthesized soundtrack to this metropolis. To amplify the magnificence of the soundscape, speakers that were crafted in Beirut, are spaced around the exhibition hall to create a surrealist ambience akin to being swallowed and spat out into the seething stomach of the city.