Where Do Swans Come from ? Along The Beirut River 


Where Do Swans Come From?  is comprised of three sub-series: South-East Beirut, Bekaa Valley and Along the Beirut River. Following the end of the civil war, Lebanon was divided by many invisible boundaries and deeper segregation. 


This series is a multi-layered representation of youth living with the legacy of conflict and Along the Beirut River  has for focus the Armenian community .


Statement


Along the Beirut River was re-edited in August 2020 following the explosion which decimated  most of this area )

The Beirut River in July

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The Beirut river (Arabic: نهر بيروت‎, Nahr Bayrūt) forms the boundary between the Christian and Armenian areas.


It runs East to West and a legend recounts that Saint George slew the dragon at the mouth of the river, in a grotto with seven caves. For centuries, it remained a pilgrimage site where travellers would stick pebbles to the walls of the cave in the belief they would get healed by the waters.


The upper valley is one of the most important bird migration area but once it reaches the capital, it becomes laden by sewage and pollution from the slaughterhouses and factories along its banks.



 

Man on Corniche el Nahr

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Karantina District

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Vana

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Warehouse in Karantina

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The river flows from snow and springs from the southern end of Mount Sannine emptying east of the Port of Beirut. An aqueduct was built across the valley in Roman times to supply Beirut (Berytus) with water.


In spring, large numbers of White Stork and White Pelican pass over while in autumn thousands of soaring birds of prey are seen migrating south.

Factories along the River


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Valley in Hazmieh Area



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River Upstream


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The largest influx of Armenians arrived in Beirut following the genocide  by the Ottoman Turks in 1915. However, since before Christ, there has been an Armenian presence when Tigranes the Great conquered Phoenicia.


After surviving the death marches, many would settle along the Beirut river, in marshy lands, either in the Karantina district (Arabic: الكرنتينا) or in Bourg Hammoud (Arabic: برج حمود‎, Armenian: Պուրճ Համուտ), an area that would become known as ‘Little Armenia’ where streets bear the name of  Armenian cities, mountains or rivers such as Yerevan, Ararat and Arax.


Following the civil war, the community lost a huge portion of its population to emigration.


Street in Bourj Hammoud 



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Shop in Little Armenia


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Michel


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Two Trees 

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The Martyrs' Monument was built to honour the hanging on May 6, 1916 of a cross-confessional group of Lebanese Nationalists who challenged Ottoman rule. The execution was ordered by Djemal Pasha, known as the 'Blood Shedder', and one of the 'Three Dictators' who instigated the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian genocides in WWI which resulted in more than 2 million deaths.


The monument is located in Martyrs' Square (Arabic: ساحة الشهداء‎ Sahat al Shouhada; French: Place des Martyrs or Place des Canons), in the heart of Beirut, where all public gatherings still take place.


Postcard of Martyrs' Square




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Electrical Plant in Bourj-Hammoud



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Cafe Avo

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Living Room

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Talar

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Shop Window

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Buildings at Night

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The Forum Conference Centre was built on the site of the Karantina Massacre, which occurred in January 1976. Palestinians, Kurds and Armenians inhabited this slum district. Although this massacre occurred well before any of these youths were born, it remains as one of the most traumatic event of the civil war in collective memory.

Forum Centre of Beirut

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Courtyard 

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Carole

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Factories near river


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Damaged Wall

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The Karantina district was built during the Ottoman period in 1831 by the Governor of Egypt to quarantine any immigrants and refugees for 40 days to ensure against any  epidemic. 


The Karantina State Hospital is one of the few in Lebanon to provide free healthcare although only the ground floor has been restored following the extensive damage by the civil war.

The Karantina Hospital

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Hospital  Facade

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Corridor in Hospital



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Consulting Room

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This area is one of the most polluted parts of Beirut being next to the port, on the northern edge of the city, as well as housing the city slaughterhouse and main waste disposal plant. 


Much of the waste is dumped into the sea and may include radioactive waste and hazardous chemicals or it is amassed into a huge mound visible for miles.  

Summer Haze
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Looking across the Bay

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Postcard of Beirut

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Buildings along the Corniche


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Corniche el Nahr

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