Beirut, 1977

Deviations, an Atlas of Beirut | 2012

Deviations, an Atlas of Beirut, 2012
(Artist book)
Courtesy: PlanBey

In Beirut addresses do not really exist, and maps are not used at all. The common means of orientation are the descriptions of itineraries and surrounding landmarks. Beirut’s mental maps reflect the collective perception of the urban space, its invisible but yet present social/geographical boundaries, its unwritten rules, the ongoing transformations of the urbanscape – including disappeared landmarks. ‘You take a left in forbidden direction at the TV station that was burnt during the war.’

Deviations, an atlas of Beirut is the result of systematic walks across the whole city, from quarter to quarter. I recorded the directions given over the phone by inhabitants describing our exact location to my colleague, who ‘will pick me up as I am lost’ - I was pretending. I photographed them while giving the directions, drawing invisible mental maps in the air. These reports became an ‘atlas’ documenting the local perception of the topography, a polyphony surrounding the impossibility of mapping Beirut.

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