No Pictures

Beirut, 2008


An urban reconnaissance of public space


September 22–28, 2008


Beirut, Lebanon


98-weeks, Seminar Beirut every other day
program Ruin of the city


A research project that was part of the project run by 98Weeks, a Beirut Arts Initiative. Research – exhibition – publication.

For an artist who’s main source of inspiration is drawn from an understanding of public space, just ‘walking around’ is an essential first step. I endeavour to approach my subject matter with an open mind, unfettered by preconceptions. This first step always surprises me. In 2008 I experienced for myself the city of Beirut for the first time. Exploring the city by foot, taking pictures.

On taking pictures
The first time that my camera was ‘inspected’ occurred after I had just taken a picture of a Versace-girl advertisement on a billboard affixed alongside multiple posters of some fatherly figure, I guess a politician, covering a wall. The visual juxtaposition that appealed to me was clearly lost on an ‘unofficial’ security man. He notified the police who on taking my camera proceeded in deleting all the pictures I had taken that morning.

The second time my pictures were deleted for some security non-reason proved more frustrating, as the particular memory stick was confiscated as well. My irritation was charged. Why this aggression towards me? What was the thing that I was not supposed to ‘record’ in this certain place?

On not taking pictures
The third time I was told to delete a picture I decided on a new tactic. Instead of recording the image in the form of a photograph, I would write down what it was that compelled me to record the image in a notebook. Each time I would try to describe my response to the place in the forbidden picture. To facilitate this, I created a frame of 10 by 10 squares (in essence 100 pixels). Into this space I allowed myself to write words, thus creating my own framed ‘word-images’.

Fifteen of these ‘word-images’ are reproduced in a publication: ’No Pictures’.

English translations and graphic design publication by Paul Oram

Thanks to:

Arthub/Bizart Shanghai
Organizers and participants of the ‘Ruin of the city’ workshop


Download publication as pdf
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98-weeks research-project