Beirut Narratives, production, 2021 © copyright Architecture et Mécanismes

BEIRUT NARRATIVES is a concept that was born twenty days after the explosion of August 4, 2020. People were asked to write their testimonials in Arabic, French or English and send pictures and kids’ drawings describing their personal experiences. The objective was to gather as many narratives as possible from diverse profiles and recognise them in a commemorative project.

Drawing by Rayan Hokayem. 2021 © copyright Architecture et Mécanismes
Drawing by Rayan Hokayem. 2021 © copyright Architecture et Mécanismes

Céline and Tatiana Stephan, co-founders of Architecture et Mécanismes, envision the first phase of the project as an urban installation that is split into different fragments travelling to different locations, before merging into one oversized fabric. Its prime content is words and sentences chosen from the testimonials they collected as well as other forms of visual art: illustrations, paintings, collages, drawings or sketches relevant to the blast. People are invited to add on to it every time it is placed somewhere by sending their testimonials and illustrations to the common mailbox; Their stories will be integrated by stitching them to the existing fragments.

Beirut Narratives, installation phase #1, 04 May, Building facing the port, Elie Khourys Building, Victim of the blast, 2021 © copyright Architecture et Mécanismes
Beirut Narratives, installation phase #1, 04 May, Building facing the port, Elie Khourys Building, Victim of the blast, 2021 © copyright Architecture et Mécanismes

After analysis, the texts were dissected into different parameters: descriptions, emotions and reflections. The words and sentences chosen were sprayed, using a colour code legend, onto differently sized jute canvases which are modules of 50 x 50 cm (depending on their length). Canvases relevant to the same testimonial were stitched using a fishing line plastic wire, the same technique healthcare workers use to stitch people’s wounds.

Beirut Narratives, installation. 2021 © copyright Architecture et Mécanismes
Beirut Narratives, installation. 2021 © copyright Architecture et Mécanismes

Acting like tapestries or billboards, the built canvases give silent speech power, remind people of the apocalyptic experience, and slowly heal the city and its urban fabric by stitching narratives one to the other.

Beirut Narratives, installation phase #2, 04 June, Aya Tower, Mar Mikhael, 2021 © copyright Architecture et Mécanismes
Beirut Narratives, installation phase #2, 04 June, Aya Tower, Mar Mikhael, 2021 © copyright Architecture et Mécanismes

The intention of this installation is to solidify our collective consciousness; it first started growing locally since May 2021 and is now mushrooming onto different building facades within the coming few months. Later on, it will travel beyond the Lebanese borders in order to engage with expats communities and also show the rest of the world what we all witnessed and went through during that devastating August the 4th, 2020 at 6.08 pm.

Beirut Narratives, installation phase #3, 04 July, Karantina facing police station, 2021 © copyright Architecture et Mécanismes
Beirut Narratives, installation phase #3, 04 July, Karantina facing police station, 2021 © copyright Architecture et Mécanismes

Text is extracted from the press release © copyright Architecture et Mécanismes

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