This photo-text series is an attempt to map out a personal ‘archaeology’ through a dispersed history encompassing the Lebanese civil war from 1975 to 1991, its aftermath and the many return trips, which have punctuated my life since then. A parallel is drawn between a personal tale and the many transformations of Beirut from a magical and chaotic place to a war-torn no man’s land to finally become a sanitised space colonised by global brands.

The centre of Beirut was an ancient and complex place, the site of many missing cities, where all souls converged and wandered freely. I revisit and combine old and new photographs, including snapshots of my mother in old Beirut and the city through its many transformations, destruction and wilderness. Like my mother before me, our footsteps marked our own boundaries of that city and now, Beirut lives on in the space of our dreams and cannot be expunged from our cells.

Each of us has a city that lives on within us and has the value of our dreams.

ã Leslie Hakim-Dowek - 2009

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