And now, I am not I and the house is not my house.
Beirutopia . (2011 - ongoing)
Since the end of the Lebanese civil war in 1990, Beirut has been striving, to regain its glamour and splendor through the efforts of reconstruction, in the aim of reconstituting the old myth of a city commonly referred to as the Paris or Switzerland of the Middle East. This photography project is a portrait of Beirut’s urban future. It aims to raise questions about the devenir, or the becoming, of Beirut and its associated representations, characteristics and how they culminate to become the future essence of the city.
Beirut is currently undergoing a construction boom on the back of large inflows of foreign capital and the historical profitability of the real estate sector. To advertise construction projects, developers display large billboards in situ reproducing the proposed reality to come. These displays exemplify computerized “biopolitic” renderings that simulate the building, its interior, surroundings, illusory residents and their lifestyle.
The photography project intends to capture billboard images that represent virtual buildings framed within their real environment. This dichotomy and juxtaposition give the photographs a sense of “oddness” that reflects the current transformation of the city. The latter is demonstrated by the use of scale, layering and image framing as tools to underline readings of the city.
Beirutopia is, in essence, the title of a counter-utopian situation, one that does not differentiate between illusory images and the pastiche narrative they embody. This confrontation allows for spaces to be redefined and their potential encouraged as new forms of identification arise and are re-appropriated within the wider social and architectural fabric of the city. The photographs become spaces of resistance. ----- Text by Randa Mirza and Stephanie Dadour
parallel universes . (2006 - 2008)
Parallel Universes offers the spectator the gift of ubiquity. The title nods at the “Multiverse theory”, the hypothetical set of multiple possible universes embracing together all of reality.
Mirza’s work exposes the coexistence of past and present layers of war and peace realities. Through her visual constructions of horror and leisure, she challenges the gap between politics and entertainment. Manipulating images from the 1975 and 2006 Lebanese wars, Mirza targets the sacred cow of the war photograph to reveal the contraptions of truth lying behind.
The artist softly disturbs the viewers’ comfort with surreal representations. Parallel Universes’ reciprocal intrusions bring the spectator’s self into conflict. “Where were these pictures taken? Are they ‘real’ or ‘false’? Where does the picture begin and where do I end? Mirza eliminates the surface of the photograph, forcing the viewer to renegotiate their habitual relation to images.
Like a mirror, Parallel Universes incorporate the spectator's gaze in the fabric of the image itself. ----- Text by Amahl Khouri