US News: Lebanon: the exhibition "Allo, Beirut?" Tells a country built on

European Heritage Days. Three good reasons to visit the castle of Blossac, at Goven

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Inaugurée le 15 septembre, «Allo, Beyrouth» interroge le présent tout en se réappropriant l'histoire du Liban pour construire un avenir plus fort. © Anwar Amro / AFP rubble inaugurated on September 15, "Allo, Beirut" questions the present while reclaiming the history of Lebanon to build a stronger future.

riddled with bullets, the building rises on the old "green line" separating Christian and Muslim factions during the Lebanese civil war from 1975 to 1990. Renovated, it was transformed into a museum and cultural space. Until June 2023, the exhibition "Allo, Beirut?" highlights the archives of a troubled past: publications before the civil war devoted to the history of institutional corruption, strikes in the public sector but also to student protests.

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Negatives of films and clippings of ancient newspapers blend into the heart of the exhibition "Allo, Beirut?" With other more contemporary and interactive artistic images and artistic representations on the current crisis of Lebanon , a cultural event that intends to challenge the gangrenous history of the country.

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These archives dialogue with images, video sequences and artistic installations illustrating similar scenes from contemporary history of Lebanon. The organizers of the exhibition wishing to denounce a tumor of several decades at the origin of the decomposition of Lebanon. "Beirut suffers, we suffer" , explains the director of the event, Delphine Abirached Darmency. She claims that a large part of the current misery in the country is drawing its roots from problems dating from a bygone era.

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The revolving golden age of Beirut

The idea of ​​the exhibition came in part from the discovery of archives belonging to a Lebanese billionaire, Jean Prosper Gay-Para, who owned the famous disco Les Caves du Roy to Beirut, considered a symbol of the country's golden age before the civil war.

On a plaque, we can read the words of the billionaire: "These sick minds, obsessed with money." A reference to the country's political elite. It echoes a feeling still widely shared by an unprecedented population bruised by an unprecedented economic crisis, the political class of which is held responsible. "Jean Prosper Gay-Para evoked in the sixties what we live today" , added Delphine Abirached Darmency.

More than three decades after the end of a bloody civil war, Lebanon is today plagued by a serious financial crisis, its currency having lost more than 90% of its value and more than 80% of the inhabitants now live Under the UN poverty line. Its capital is still marked by the enormous explosion at the port in 2020 , due to the nitrate of ammonium stored without precautionary measures, killing more than 200 people and aggravating an exodus similar to that caused by the civil war.

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"The death of his people"

in addition to the archives, the exhibition "Allo, Beirut?" welcomes several installations of Lebanese artists invited to present works reflecting their vision of the Lebanese capital. One of them, Rawane Nassif, presents a short documentary exploring the story of a Beirut district where she grew up and returned this year for the first time in two decades to take care of her sick parents, But deceased since. The film depicts "Loss" , declares to AFP the 38 -year -old anthropologist and filmmaker, because "Beirut is in mourning, she cries the death of her people and the death of all the opportunities she had in the old days."

Raoul Mallat, a 28 -year -old visual artist, also worked on the theme of mourning in a short film combining family archive images of his childhood with recent photos of Beirut. "This project, he said, helped me a lot to mourn certain aspects of my city that I would no longer find."

In the museum, holes in the walls, used formerly as lair by snipers during the civil war, are now equipped with screens projecting images of an unprecedented protest movement that emerged in Lebanon in 2019 against the class policy accused of corruption.

nearby, a room is decorated with worn furniture and destroyed objects. They were recovered in the Caves du Roy, a disco today abandoned. Rola Abou Darwich and Rana Abbout, the two artists, tried to reconstruct the premises. These symbolic ruins represent the tumultuous existence of Lebanon. "Beirut is built on rubble" , according to Rola, 38 years old. "It is part of where we live, the way we live and who we are" , she says, believing that the situation will not arrange.

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