In 1991, on the initiative of the Lebanese writer Dominique Eddé, the Hariri Foundation financed a documentary campaign on the city centre of Beirut, which had been virtually destroyed after fifteen years of civil war. Gabriele Basilico, René Burri, Raymond Depardon, Fouad Elkoury, Robert Frank and Josef Koudelka freely participated. The result was a book and an exhibition that have become landmarks.
Gabriele Basilico liked clear, structured, closed projects, and he hardly ever retraced his steps. Beirut was a notable exception for him, as he visited four times, photographed there in black and white and in colour, and even exhibited part of his photographic investigation there. He had planned to publish a book of all his four trips, but he never got around to it. It is therefore the first time that this work is shown in its entirety and that, on this occasion, Contrasto Editions is publishing the reference work. In this visual investigation, which has developed over twenty years, we find the characteristic and rigorous approach of the former architecture student. A permanent reflection on the meaning of frontality and angles of view, a desire to decipher urban space and make it readable. Gabriele Basilico was not a war photographer and he did not know, at first, how to approach the destruction of the centre of the Lebanese capital. After the observation and direct confrontation with the ruin, he decided to follow the reconstruction process. A form of optimism.
Christian Caujolle, conseiller artistique