In 1975, my family and I fled Beirut as the civil war raged. I remember driving down the highway connecting the city to the airport at ungodly speeds to avoid sniper fire. That deserted stretch of uninterrupted road is vivid in my memory: it represents a disruption of place, family and history. As the war tore apart the country, it also drove my parents to divorce. A war, a physical displacement, cascading into a familial one, into a personal one. Forty years on, their effects only deepen and compound.
Our history has a pattern. A generation earlier, my grandparents were driven out of their homeland by the Armenian Genocide: their displacement accompanied the near destruction of their whole nation. Generation after generation, disruption upon disruption.
A few years ago I returned to Beirut to photograph. Despite the 40-year gap, my family’s presence and the embedded history of our lives in that space kept encroaching on my imagination. Everywhere I looked, I saw what used to be. The series speaks to this presence by disrupting the fabric of the present-day with elements that echo this history. Structurally, the work is seen from today but meanders back across decades of absence, war, memory and loss. The series tries to create a kind of ripple in space-time across a dark chasm of time by making family photos (in color) real and imaginary constructs in current-day photographs (in black and white). It essays to construct a speculative bridge and question the arc of time and history that connects seemingly linear narratives: at once disrupted and contiguous.
The series is printed on mulberry-based paper. The mulberry has its own disrupted history in the region: it used to be plentiful until it was replaced by citrus and fruit trees.