What is Beirut? What is the soul of this city, apparently so indecipherable, aggressive and fragmented, and yet dangerously attractive like a magnetic zone? Like a Tarkovskian Stalker, the urban explorer begins his reconnaissance of the city. A description of its physical appearance, its buildings and streets would render only a partial image of its truest nature.
The overwhelming mass of towers, bridges and viaducts are merely a rigid infrastructure that affects whole neighbourhoods, connecting and at the same time separating its multifaith community. The eighteen religious ethnicities continue to live together in the capital, which is being rebuilt on itself. Once divided by invisible and impassable lines in the urban tissue, they now find themselves united in the difficulty of a consensual elaboration of history. In spite of everything, the magnet that is Beirut still wields its attracting and disorienting influence. Its oscillations make us want to investigate the city from another angle than the contemplative analytical one. Its self-image does not coincide with the external reality.
On the assumption that the outer, public appearance of the city does not sufficiently reveal its essence, we have investigated its most intimate and private dimension.
This project, constituted by photographs taken by Edoardo Delille, is the first step in an investigation on “An anthropology of living”1 in the contemporary Beirut. Like an exploded drawing that reveals the internal functions of a living organism, the photographs of its multifaith community reveals much more of its city and its history than may be inferred from its outward appearance. An imaginary cross-section in the manner of Perec2, on an urban scale, exposes domestic scenarios of the Beirut society.
These photographs retrace the different identities of faiths, ethnicities and lifestyles in the urban territory, along a path of discovery that shows how the individual citizens relate to their inhabited space. The latter are often surprising; while some are modern and carefully planned, others are chaotic and variegated, traditional, enigmatic. The cross-section reveals an extremely heterogeneous, multicultural and composite society that challenges the preconceived Western image of a generic Middle-Eastern culture or a city that never got over the war. The reconstruction of Beirut involves more than just buildings. The recovery of a shared memory is the complex common ground for the cultivation of a new society, made of ethnic, religious and cultural groups, but above all of countless individuals, all of them different but all of them Lebanese.
Edoardo Delille was born in florence in 1974, works in Milan as a freelance photographer.
With documentary photography he has travelled and worked in India, Albania, Kosovo, Iran, Lebanon, United States, Indonesia, Haiti and Japan. He try to tell small “love“ stories with portraits, explaining the identity of places he visit, with a positive view of life.
He join Riverboom collective, a group of photographers,artists and journalist working on stereotipes of the world. He‘s actually working on a long term project on the borders of Middle East.
Nicola Santini holds Academic Degree and a Phd in Architecture and Urban Design, teaches architectural design at several Universities in Italy and abroad, he runs workshops and gives lectures in Florence, Rome, Paris, Bogotà, Wien, Beirut.
With Pier Paolo Taddei he founds Avatar Architettura, a multy-disciplinary italian office for architecture and industrial design. The office‘s work is been published and shown internationally at four Venice Arhitecture Biennales, at Beijing, Hanoi and Brasilia Biennales. Avatar Architettura has a network of collaborations with Peter T. Lang for the “Elasticity” projects, Jelena Zanchi for croatian projects, Sara Pizzati for landscape design and Charbel Maskineh for Middle East projects.