Splendor and devastation
The massive destruction of “Lebanese houses” of Beirut continues. After the war devastation (exhibition of 26 photographs shown by Alice Mogabgab gallery in June 1996), this exhibition called “Splendor and Devastation” shows the ravages of years of peace. Defying the ban visit, Houda Kassatly has entered in some old houses of the Lebanese capital. She took pictures of these houses in their last moments, just after the evacuation of their inhabitants, just before their demolition. In 2012, none of these houses no longer exists.
Photographs of Houda Kassatly, outside and inside, are stripped of all artifice. The lighting is natural; it preserves the human dimension of the place. The framing of the subject is precise; it fixes and immortalizes its beauties. All 32 recent photographs taken in 2010 and 2011, reveal the greatness of man builder, divulge the drama of destructive man. In each work the moment is suspended in time. This is how the artist will preserve the memory of a city, its people, and its traditions.
In January 2, 2012 Houda Kassatly writes the following:
The disappearance of the old urban substance of Beirut is a real fact, not a supposed fact. Now it is illusory to believe that the juggernaut of modernity and real estate developers could ever be stopped. We can at most suspend for a while and delay the irreversible destruction process or preserve some “legacy” islets pastiches of a bygone architecture, but it is clear that any know-how is now doomed to an inevitable demise.In this recent work, we thought it was important to try to connect ourselves to a particular moment of the future of the city. To seize this instant where the house is still suspended, between the moment people leave it to the new owners and the moment where it will be destroyed. Moment that can be very short or much longer depending on the current procedures and destruction granted permits. In this house which will soon be delivered to the wreckers, the ancient inhabitants abandon a piece of their past: furniture that does not befit the kind and size of new apartments they will live in, photographs or old papers that are no longer necessary for them… It seemed important to connect ourselves to these objects and to architectural details witnesses of the past and so, pay tribute to former builders and bear testimony to the elapse of time.