This exhibition at Beirut Art Center is Public Works Studio’s first institutional presentation. Rather than approach the format of the exhibition with any kind of finality, PW has created a site as unstable as the environments it investigates.
The exhibition included a live component in the form of a Public Works Studio outpost: a library of print publications and online projects produced over the span of a decade and an open forum where a series of meetings, symposiums and participatory interventions were held throughout the exhibition.
Since its formation in 2012, Public Works Studio has been observing how the systematic commodification of land has deprived people of basic rights; namely the right to produce, belong to, appropriate and change lived space, as well as the right to shape individual and collective memories of it. This work of PW fits into a broader zeitgeist of independent monitoring groups and watchdogs in Lebanon, whose work takes a grassroots approach to knowledge production and dissemination by using a wide array of often participatory research, analysis and visualisation tools.
Public Works had to find the visual language to grapple with the sheer breadth of the ecological and social challenges in Lebanon, as well as contend with the sprawling yet invisible nature of the interconnected webs of neoliberalism. Therefore, we were able to produce a rich visual language spanning written articles, documentary film formats, infographic, cartographic and archival materials, collaborations with artists, among others.
For this exhibition, Beirut Art Center has proposed a spatial and narrative through line as one way to select and sequence material from a much more expansive and ongoing body of work. We have conceived of the element of dust as the mute narrator of the exhibition, taking viewers across multiple struggles, through varying scales of landscape and urban fabric: from the vast crater of a quarry, to the dense concrete facades of Beirut, and into the smallest room in any given apartment.
Read the full Article in Arabic here.