COLLECTING «DAHIYEH»

The Martyrdom of Pluralism 
Exhibition by UMAM Documentation and Research
@ The Hangar
May 24 – June 16, 2007

 

There are a thousand reasons that cause places to completely transform. The residents, landscape, and urban culture can change to such an extent that all that remains are narratives, traces, and scars. At any rate, no place could presume to be immune to one day becoming obsolete or reinvented. However, all places, even if they share this inherent mutability, are not the same in terms of the speed with which these changes materialize. No comparison is possible between a place changing so slowly that the naked eye cannot detect it, and a place whose rapid changes blind the eye. Dahiyeh, of course, is not the only place in Lebanon to witness this kind of accelerated transformation, but it is an especially telling example of what Lebanon is moving towards: the martyrdom of pluralism. 

Today, in the Dahiyeh, thousands of square meters of the dense urban landscape have returned to dust. These voids in our midst, created by Israeli bombs, have erased decades of successive transformations, asking the passerby to consider what was and what could or will be. Like citizen archaeologists, we can look upon these empty sites and imagine the layers produced by generations of inhabitants and the layers yet to come.

Before Dahiyeh was filled with these voids, UMAM D&R initiated a project to collect oral narratives, photographs, and other items documenting the transformation of Haret Hreik from a diverse neighborhood to an exclusive playing field. Then the war broke out, affecting UMAM D&R physically and otherwise. The project was suspended for months, and when we restarted contemplating it in 2006, we had to answer the question: Should we keep the project in its initial format, neglecting the last war and the reinforcement of the de facto grouping of multiple neighborhoods, including Haret Hreik, under the name Dahiyeh? Or should we consider that this reality has rendered a project uniquely about Haret Hreik less relevant than a wider investigation of the Dahiyeh?

We have chosen the second option, knowing that such a project could never be an exhaustive one, but rather a collage, and the beginning of a process of conscious remembering versus continual forgetting which we wish to see undertaken in Dahiyeh, its suburbs, and beyond.

Media coverage of
COLLECTING «DAHIYEH» can be found here or in the section UMAM IN THE MEDIA.

COLLECTING «DAHIYEH» - The Exhibition