Solidere Annual Report 2011
Characters make entrances and exits from the stage of reality just as cities trace the contours of civilizations through time.
The currents of trade, conquest, and knowledge have, for millennia, propelled the history of the Mediterranean Basin. The people, architecture, and urban landscapes of its eastern port Beirut refract, like a prism, the stories that have accrued on this land throughout the centuries.
Meditative and introspective, the Solidere Annual Report 2011 observes how people inhabit the spaces of Beirut city center. Just as the photography and text shed light on the trajectory of the built environment – its reconstruction, development, and future, so too does the Annual Report contemplate character and how individuals constitute architecture and place.
Seasoned photojournalist Ziyah Gafic captures the latent dialogue between people and architecture. His camera turns quietly around the corner to eavesdrop on soft chatter in a garden. He peers up an outdoor staircase to follow the clacking of heels. He tracks the rhythms of children gallivanting by the sea, professionals pacing to a business lunch, and employees performing the routines of the workday. Beirut city center, in Gafic’s images, is a circumstance of scenes – about camaraderie, negotiation, patience, jubilation, memory, and uncertainty. The scenes evince a paradoxical relationship to the built environment, a link as delicate and tenuous as it is deeply rooted in a complex history.
Whereas Gafic focuses on exterior and open spaces, Miguel Ángel Sanchéz communes with subjects through his renowned portraiture in the intimacy of a studio. Dozens of people who work and live in Beirut city center, people from various walks of life, sat before the camera of the Spanish sculpture cum photographer in spring 2012. His portraits are painterly and highly theatrical. In each image, an individual becomes a character – of Beirut, the Middle East, the Mediterranean Sea, and altogether the series conveys a constellation of identities, the refractions of a city.
Sunlight to back light, sidewalk to stool, architectural patterns to textures of skin, the geometry of urban infrastructure to the shapes of a facial expression: the Solidere Annual Report 2011 considers how the tides of history, of urban development, and of daily life find expression in the interrelationships between people and Beirut city center.