The Last of Beirut
The Last of Beirut, 2006
Single-channel video projection (silent). 22 mins
video stills, The Last of Beirut, 2006
"We knew to look down a street before entering it, to check whether it was busy or empty. Empty meant find another street."
The Last of Beirut weaves together text and image to construct a contemplative vision of displacement and loss on the eve of civil war in Lebanon in 1975. A confabulation of voices, alternating between that of children and parents, contrasts the naïve, often reckless response of youth to its surroundings with the anxiety of parenting in a country moving rapidly towards self-destruction. The images, which depict the days leading up to evacuation, are presented both in whole and in detail. The use of detail and close-cropped framing creates an impressionistic, barely-recollected account of the events, emphasizing the fragmentary, subjective nature of recollection and memory. The use of shifting frames and points of view, narrative halt and stillness, suggests that attentive looking and close reading are a metaphor for the necessity of attending to every detail – as one does when one is in danger, under threat, or plagued with anxieties.
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