Lebanon, January 1992, months after the city is open and traversing from East to West is made possible again (at least for us more distant from the recent war and the still remote occupation in the South) without fear of kidnapping or worse. Driving around the city, the slightly battered Fiat 128 looking somewhat the worse for wear, silver of sorts but covered in dust from years in the garage, makes its way hesitantly down one of the arteries leading into the core of Beirut, or one of the cores as there are many centres here—old, new, destroyed, demolished, rebuilt—each act of construction part and parcel of a previous one of destruction. Walid drives, I shoot, video, gazing through the camera at the passing layers of modern and ancient architecture, using it like an appendage, it inhales inadequate images of people, place, sites of historical and social signification, the fruit vendors, the shattered lives being pieced back together, and more tattered buildings and ruins upon ruins.
Posters of her are everywhere: lamp posts, shop windows, private homes. 2 She is framed on one side, the wounded Lahad on the other, floating on a pinkish background. 3 The photograph on the right is from 1988, the year Soha attempted to assassinate the guy, came close, close enough to be an instant heroine, but not close enough to kill him. She was thrown into the ‘living’ hell hole of Khiam. Those who referred to it as a prison knew nothing about it, others who knew and would raise troubling references referred to it as a concentration camp, colloquially here (or there) it was called something more benign: a detention centre.
Before coming to Lebanon and during the year there, the occupation of the South was a predominant concern in our minds. I decided to focus one of the videotapes (Up to the South…) on this occupation, 4 the terms of its representation inherent in the discourse surrounding the issues, (i.e. terrorism, 5 post-colonialism, occupation, collaboration, experts, spokespeople, symbols, resistance, the land), and the history and structure of the documentary genre in regards to the representation of other cultures by the West in documentary, ethnography and anthropological practice and the predicament involved from the perspective of the subjects viewed and the practitioners practicing. Up to the South… challenged traditional documentary formats by positing representation itself as a politicized practice. We worked with the material and our experiences of living and working in Lebanon with an insistence on a visible resistance to the acts of aggression that documentary partakes in and the violence that is inherent in its means. The videotape developed a mediating ‘language’ of transposed experience in the guise of a ‘_reluctant documentary.’_ These methodologies are refined and developed further in some of the untitled videotapes which incorporate them in their own strategies and means. 6
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About this Article
sans titre/untitled was first published in Fillip 1 in Summer 2006. For more articles from this issue, see the Table of Contents.
Jayce Salloum has been working in installation, photography, new media, and video since 1975, as well as curating exhibitions, conducting workshops and coordinating cultural events. His work takes place in a variety of contexts, critically engaging itself in the representation of cultural/social/political manifestations and other cultures.
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