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Abbaye de Jumièges : Beirut by Gabriele Basilico


Some exhibitions can, because of the location, the layout or mysterious spatial relations, reactivate the way you see a work that you know quite well. That is exactly what is happening at present in Gabriele Basilico’s Beirut at the Logis Abbatial in the Abbaye de Jumièges in Normandy.

Before arriving at the exhibition, you must cross the Seine by ferry to reach this hilly park, which remains without a doubt “the most beautiful ruin in France,” as it was named in the 19th century. It’s no wonder that Victor Hugo, Chateaubriand and Turner went into raptures over this white stone rising from the transept, roofless since the Revolution.

Above, the Logis Abbatial is sober and solid. Inside, effigies and sculptures evoke its past. Here is where Gabriel Bauret and Giovanna Calvenzi have installed these rare large-format and contact sheets shot by Gabriele Basilico in Beirut in 1991, while on a mission led by Dominique Eddé and funded by the Fondation Hariri. This economical and elegant exhibition, with the black-and-white photographs on the ground floor and color photographs upstairs, also features a documentary film by Tanino Musso which shows Basilico, Robert Frank, René Burri and Fouad Elkoury exploring the city after the war. Thanks to the contact sheets, viewers will be able to understand the decisions taken and challenges faced by this photographer who had never been to war—but who had, as a child, played in the post-war ruins of Milan—posing questions raised throughout his oeuvre: What does it mean to shoot  head-on? What is perspective? What am I documenting? What do these images mean?

Read the full article on the French version of L’Oeil.

Beyrouth 1991…

Gabriele Basilico
Through May 25th, 2015
Logis Abbatial de l’Abbaye de Jumièges
24 Rue Guillaume le Conquérant
76480 Jumièges



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