Solidere Annual Report 2010
Sixteen years of destruction, hostilities and ruins. Sixteen years of reconstruction and development.
In 2010, Beirut embarked upon a new decade, the years of recovery slowly fading into the past as the reconstruction of the traditional city center nears completion. Solidere’s
achievements during the year occasion a moment of reflection. How can we perceive anew the evolution of the built environment, which bears layers of difficult history?
In 1991, Italian photographer Gabriele Basilico, renowned for his architectural and urban landscapes, captured Beirut city center on the heels of its most painful sixteen years. It was autumn, and downtown Beirut was all ruins, weeds, barricades and the gripping loneliness of a war that had just come to an end.
Through his lens, the bullet-ridden holes, skeletal balconies and dirt mounds on dead squares narrated a story that extended beyond the horrific nature of the moment.
Basilico returned to Beirut in 2003 and 2011, and his work, spanning two decades, portrays an urban history with precision and clarity. His city center landscapes depict the evolution of Beirut; a prose with its own internal tune, defining a set of details, the final shape of which cannot be discerned and the parts of which cannot be kept within bounds.
His photography evokes a contemplative stillness while it also captures the process of transformation. Indeed, the ruins are latent even in Basilico's most recent work.
This year's Annual Report includes Basilico's photography from 2011, punctuated by images from 1991 and 2003. The layers - of paper, text and image - gesture towards the
strata of memory underlying the contemporary cityscape. Tranquil white terrains echo the introspection prompted by Basilico, whose photographs denude the built environment that we perceive today.
In its dedication to the lens of a single photographer, the 2010 Annual Report explores a new approach to representing and documenting the work of Solidere in Beirut city center, a place where history, present and future emerge and evolve in unexpected ways.