A couple nights ago a bunch of us munched our way, via falafel, downtown. Once we reached Martyr’s Square, a friend mentioned that just down the block there’s an artist collective that meets. Yes! Of course, we changed our direction in pursuit of art! As we approached what appeared to be an enormous bombed out egg, we saw a sign that read “You are here for now.” A police officer standing by said the building used to be a cinema. I took pictures (below). And then I climbed over some rubble and dirt to take more pictures of the outside. But what was inside?
“Due to the long history of Lebanon’s everlasting instability, and to the insufficiency of the land for its people, the Diaspora has become a banal situation that many Lebanese go through.
It is never for the same reasons that one becomes part of the Diaspora, but it is an experience that no human can ever forget. Some go by their own will and some are forced: some travel for career opportunities, some for studies, discovery, and some do it because they have to escape.
Escape violence and flee conflict zones to look for a safer future…
My story is one of them. At the age of 19, I decided to travel to France to study in a university. I have the good fortune to possess French nationality since my ancestors have lived and worked in Ivory Coast when it was under French administration. My journey outside of Lebanon lasted for five years, during which I would come visit my family every now and then.
Summer 2006 was somehow a particular visit. I arrived on the 10th of July, two days before the Israelis declared their blitzkrieg on Lebanon. After my ancestors’ and my parents’ generations, it was my generation’s turn to witness events that would drive many of us to evacuate the country.
Through those photographs, I have tried to capture the last visions I had while being evacuated from Beirut in August 2006 on a French repatriation emergency boat. I chose to represent the division between the land and its people, the empty spaces created by the war and the inhabitants’ confused state of mind.
The moment you see your homeland shore become smaller and smaller until it disappears from your sight, you are so overwhelmed with feelings that the journey becomes an intensely spiritual one. That moment of separation might be the first step of one’s Diaspora experience.”
– Ralph Nashawaty
To see more work from the exhibition and pictures of the egg, look to the right and visit my flikr page.