At the same time as the exhibition Speranze & Dubbi. Arte giovane tra Libano e Italia, a group show of eight Lebanese and eight Italian artists, the Fondazione Merz presents the solo show of Gabriele Basilico, Beirut 1991, which includes about twenty photographs taken from the great photographic service shot in Beirut in 1991 at the end of the civil war that devastated the country.
The result is a photographic document that intends to reflect on what remains of a city after the conflict of war and how it prepares to ‘start again’. The photographer’s eye portrays places with reserve and respect, with a clear, precise way of looking and an attention to detail that reveals the architectural training of this Milanese artist.
In 1991 I was involved by the Lebanese writer Dominique Eddé in a project that aimed to photographically document the central part of the city of Beirut. The work was conceived for a group of photographers whose experiences would freely overlap… The actual area was identical for everyone: the central part of the city bound to the north by the sea, to the south by the Ring road, to the east by the Christian district and to the west by a mixed district. It wasn’t a question of producing a reportage or drawing up an inventory, but of creating a ‘state of
things’, a direct contact and experience with the place left to a completely free interpretation, in an extremely delicate and unrepeatable moment in the history of Beirut: the end, in 1990, of a long drawn-out war that had begun fifteen years earlier (13 April 1973), and the wait for an announced reconstruction. (Gabriele Basilico)
The Fondazione Merz has chosen to stage two exhibitions at the same time with the aim of ‘narrating’ a place where a new generation of artists works that has grown up in thie period between the destruction and the reconstruction of the city of Beirut, a moment that the lens of Gabriele Basilico has accurately captured.