26 May 2023 - 15 Mar 2025

Beirut Recollections

Sursock Museum


Bringing together photographs from the Fouad Debbas collection and the digital video by ICONEM, this exhibition follows the story of some of the striking photographic inventions that have altered the ways in which we perceive cityscapes as their presence is transcribed into evermore complex images. Beirut, a constantly mutating city, is the perfect subject for the study of perception. Its centuries of significant historical events, joyful and terrifying all the same, are readable in its features as joy or anger can be read on the human face. Throughout the history of photography, each generation has attempted to invent technical approaches to improving photographic representation. From the beginning of the 20th century, and long before the invention of colored films, postcard images were colored with ink and watercolor, intended to make their viewing pleasant and realistic. The practice of making panoramas and stereoscopy were invented for similar reasons. The photographer stands between the scientist, who attempts to record reality, and the artist, who works through their personal perceptions. In a similar way, the ICONEM video entitled Reminiscence of a Moving City’s Many Stories is an outstanding element of contemporary photo­grammetry, which allows us to preserve, with three-dimensional detail, the memory of a constantly transforming city. This video, commissioned after the 2020 Beirut Port blast by UNESCO, shows thirty thousand images stitched together in order to recreate a virtual tour of Beirut’s incredible heritage buildings. The video was re-edited by ICONEM specially for this exhibition with a vision of Beirut in the process of revival, lit by a mysterious light which brings back life to its streets.

Press release from Sursock Museum

Image: Installation view of Beirut Recollections at Sursock Museum, Beirut, 2023. Photography by Walid Rashid. Image courtesy of Sursock Museum