Cities, like people, bear scars. Their history is written on the walls and in the streets, and echoes of a past forgotten, inscribed on brick and stone. Perhaps more than some cities, Beirut’s scars are fresh and yet, they are seemingly quick to heal.
Everywhere, our world is becoming more homogenous. The bespoke shop gives way to the big-box retailer, and neighbourhoods lose their character. As the scars that give cities their uniqueness in place and time are paved over, our gaze becomes too often harshly reflected in soaring glass monoliths, and the scarred, imperfect edifices of yesterday give way to glittering towers.
Beyrouth, Mon Amour is a visual love letter to Beirut, a city that has long held a special place in Antaki’s heart. His ever-curious eyes see beauty in chipped paint and cracked brick that bear witness to a timeless history. Behind these digitally composited façades live the people of Beirut who are left behind by steel and glass modernity. In a city that has seen so much sectarian violence, these are the homes of Christians and Muslims, and have been for centuries. Antaki’s compositions represent the rich cultural and historical mosaic of Beirut rendered in a visual style that recalls traditional Arabic mosaic art.
As the wounds of civil war begin to fade into scars, Antaki believes that it is important to bring those scars to life, lest they be forgotten. Beyrouth, Mon Amour simultaneously recalls the past, reflects the present and gestures towards the future.
Beyrouth, Mon Amour was presented for the first time at the Arab World Institute in Paris during the Third Biennale of Photographers of the Contemporary Arab World and is currently on view digitally until September 25, 2020 at the Middle East Institute in Washington.