And They Never Came Back...

Photo Exhibition in Progress
A Project by UMAM Documentation and Research

April 2008 onwards
Supported by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development


With special thanks to the committees of families of the disappeared and all the individuals who have provided photographs for the exhibition, including: Committee of the Relatives of the Kidnapped and Missing in Lebanon, Support of the Lebanese in Detention and Exile, and the Committee of the Families of Lebanese Detainees in Syria [represented by Wadad Halwani, Ghazi Aad, and Sonia Eid respectively].

This exhibition includes the photographs of hundreds of individuals from diverse confessions, sex, origins, and political persuasions, all of whom disappeared during the Lebanese civil war(s). Estimates of the number of these disappeared people reach into the thousands. Thus, the exhibition, though striking in terms of volume alone, represents only a fraction of those who left behind families and loved ones.


It has been said that the disappeared are "neither dead or alive." In the absence of truth or justice, the friends, families and loved ones of those who disappeared have been condemned to a purgatory defined of endless waiting: waiting for good news or bad, for the return of their sons or their bodies, for the reports issued by myriad commissions, for official responses, and for recognition, action, and closure.

UMAM D&R believes that in addition to the theoretical debate, it is essential to employ creative approaches that will foster a genuine awareness among the public regarding the magnitude and impact of enforced disappearance on Lebanese society. With respect to suffering, it is often said that "what is not pictured is not real." Therefore, this exhibition seeks to give substance to those who have disappeared, and to tie them to all what is real, both as individuals and as a part of the population of Lebanon that remains missing. Until now, this segment of Lebanese society has indeed become nearly invisible—but it has by no means ceased to exist. 

The MISSING exhibition, part of the broader WHAT IS TO BE DONE: Lebanon's War-Loaded Memory project, was launched April 10, 2008 and toured throughout Lebanon until 2010: 
Beirut – April 2008 | Beirut – December 2008 | Tripoli – December 2008 | Saida – March 2009 | Marjayoun – July 2009 | Deir al-Qamar – December 2009 | Baalbeck – December 2009 | Beirut – April 2010 | Byblos – June 2010. 

In April 2010, UMAM D&R joined with THE FEEL COLLECTIVE to present a common event in the Beirut City Center. The two exhibitions involved were MISSING and IN A SEA OF OBLIVION.

Media coverage of MISSING can be found here or in the section UMAM IN THE MEDIA.

MISSING - The Exhibition