Communities and Territories Beirut

On Public Sphere & Public Library November/December 2007- Beirut, Lebanon


A platform for young artists, students and citizens to reflect and work on alternative use of and proposals for public spaces in Beirut.


A project by: aMAZElab, Milano (Italy);  Artistic Direction Claudia Zanfi.

Promoted by: Heirinch Boll Foundation, Middle East Office Beirut.

In collaboration with: As Sabil; AUB (American University Beirut); CLAC, Haret Hriek.

Supported by: Italian Institute of Culture; British Council; Ford Foundation; Seydoux Foundation; Mondriaan Foundation.

Media Partners: An Nahar, Beirut; Daily Star Beirut; YS, Nicosia;  Bidoun, NYC/Dubai.


The relationship between community and territory, between city and citizens lies at the heart of any most recent debate. The proposal of workshop + seminar will turn its attention to both urban and peripheral order, social policy, territorial management, community based practises. In other words, the use of public space in living culture.

The public domain is a place where people act and create a ‘communal world full of differences’ (Saskia Sassen).
We are living through a kind of crisis in public space resulting from the conflict of global and local interests, growing commercialization, globalisation, presence of massive architectures, dense infrastructures, privatizing of public space. This reality has produced displacement among many individuals and communities.

Culture, art, architecture can function as critical practices that allow us to capture something more elusive and silent than what is the actual representation of a city and its public space. The workshop + seminar aim to reflect about the making, the perception and the use of public space in a complex city as Beirut, both through theoretical and users’ practices.

Young artists and students with different knowledge and backgrounds will find in the workshop + seminar an occasion of confrontation and improving their capacities. It is a full immersion experience in the city territory, through the choice of three different public libraries as location for the workshops. It’s an opportunity to work with international renowned artists and professional tutors. It includes cross-over practices seen as a form of knowledge and interaction with the social and the urban life of the city. It’s a platform for scholars from various disciplines + common citizens, to reflect and work on alternative use and proposals for public spaces in Beirut.



Three Public libraries (only 3 in the city, opened after 2001 + a mobile vehicle to reach palestinian camps) will be the most important actors and space for the project, considering their possibility of interaction with the citizens in the social and cultural development of the territory. Three differents public libraries have been individueted in different cultural areas of the city: Bachoura (west), Geitawi (east) and Haret Hreik (south). The project aimes to the creation of an important public archive (images, video, texts, drawings, maps), on social themes such as the concepts of public and private space.


> Saturday 17th Nov : Seminar Day (at American University Beirut).
> Sunday 18th Nov: a day of exploration in the city guided by local experts(artists, architects, geographers) exploring the geopolitical implications of Beirut.
> Monday 19th, Tuesday 20th, Wednesday 21th: Workshops in 3 disseminated local libraries: Bachoura, Geitawi and Haret Hreik and preparation of visual materials.
> Thursday 22nd Nov: Opening, public debate and presentation of visual materials at Haret Hreik Library, Beirut.


1 Seminar: Panelists:  Bilal Kbheiz (writer and journalist), George Arbid (architect, professor AUB), Stefano Boeri (theoretician, urbanist), Loraine Leeson (cultural activist); Vito Acconci (artist, perfomer); Calin Dan (artist); Michele Warde-Fawaz ( public library founder ).

3 Workshops: Loraine Leeson on cultural activism; Vito Acconci on urban installation; Calin Dan on public art.
Local tutors for workshops: Nadine Touma, Bilal Kbheiz, Nadim Karam/Atelier Hapistus.

1 Exhibition: untill 15th Dec exhibition of visual materials at Haret Hreik Library, Beirut.


A publication with critical and theoretical essays on the issue, texts by local communities, and visual materials will be released in Spring 2008.


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