From September 24, 2021 to November 20, 2021

Galerie Tanit, Munich, Germany

Nadim Asfar, Imaginary Cities Chapter II: Beirut as Project, 2021, Installation Shot

About Beirut and the imaginary

When we started thinking of “imaginary cities”, the first image that surged was that of Beirut. Beirut can be compared to a palimpsest city, a document where things are constantly erased and replaced, superposed or superimposed; context is simultaneously done and undone in a single action. Every period of the city’s history altered, destroyed or covered parts and layers of what had been built just a few decades earlier. This constant rewriting explains part of Beirut’s rich complexity, but also generates its disconcerting instability. Successive generations have no guidance to how the city was barely a few years earlier, and only through rare evidence and remains. Therefore, Beirut is in constant metamorphosis and sometimes nearly unrecognizable: it exists and is perpetuated mostly through images and personal narratives, through mythologies and the products of imagination. It is a hypothetical construction. Most cities tend to incarnate a stable and sedentary habitat or structure, embodied by defined landmarks. But Beirut’s unstable character turns it into a nomadic structure: the city revolves and, in this process, displaces its inhabitants, both physically and mentally. Here, landmarks constantly shift, even the coastline is altered, as if it were quicksand, rather than the millennial shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Builders dig as deep as possible into the ground altering the core, the very geology, nature, and perception of Beirut’s geography. Beirut’s present is inescapably a very short instance, a film-like fabric stretched in the thin gap that separates past and future. We dwell in instants that are lost in shapeless time periods. Consequently, one feels ever navigating between where “were we”, where “will we be” and where « are we now”? “Where are we now?” is an acrobatic time-lapse.

Beirut is like an endless project. Spaces are improbable, unthinkable charades impossible to solve. The only stable element seems to be the course of the sun and its trajectory, the weather, the temperatures. Through the light of the sun, the depth of colors, the heat, the humidity, the wind, or the very distinctive chill of winter, the body can recognize where it is, identify its belonging.



Nadim Asfar