From March 28 to July 28, 2019, the Institute of Cultures of Islam presents “It is Beirut”, exhibition curated by Sabyl Ghoussoub.
The works of sixteen photographers and videographers testify to the place of the individual, religion and community in Beirut today, since the Israeli-Lebanese conflict of 2006.
The legendary city of Beirut has always fascinated. Once known as the “Switzerland of the Middle-East” Beirut descended into chaos in the sixties as Lebanon entered a war that was to last fifteen years. The city managed to get back onto its feet, and was just beginning to brim with hope in 2006 when the “July war” or the “33-day war” broke out with Israel. The conflict clipped the wings of the youth of Beirut, opening old wounds. It provides the starting point for this exhibition. The traces the war left in the collective unconscious of the city underlie the photographs and videos on show, hidden by an exuberance that can be unsettling. This is Beirut takes the spectator on a wander through the city, to meet its inhabitants. Some are in thrall to appearances, some to the religion that is omnipresent, and some party all night in search of meaning. Sixteen artists, both Lebanese and European, emerging or established, come together in this show to bear witness to the city’s unique inclusiveness and highly structured communitarianism. Their work goes beyond cliché and fantasy, documenting the upheaval of the Lebanese society by revealing the daily reality of badly treated sexual minorities, downtrodden domestic workers, forgotten refugees and migrants. Far from being a mere portrait gallery, This is Beirut provides another way to grasp the elusive identity of the city.`