Exhibition text for CCA Solo Show
The Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal

How do we not drown in the mirage? Sometimes we experience something whose scale transcends. It can be so all-consuming that its description is beyond the reach of language and remains in the realm of affect, of experience. Within this schism—this disruption—between what we can describe and what we can feel, something else emerges.

The film’s title in Arabic translates to “How do we not drown in the mirage?” Perhaps this mirage is the Lebanese economic crisis, the Niemeyer fairground in Tripoli, the idolatry of modernist architecture, or the scale of the exhibition itself. To Remain in the No Longer works to draw out a reflection on the events of varying scales that have unfolded in Lebanon in the late twentieth century and the fictional interests that have led to today’s turbulent sea of crises.

In 1991, the year that the Civil War concluded, construction of the fairground in Tripoli came to a halt. Niemeyer’s vision—and in some way, Lebanon’s vision for itself—was suspended in a precarious state. By revisiting the fairground and its surroundings, the film critiques the positivism of urban masterplans and architectural monuments. How has architecture been instrumentalized in the ongoing construction of a national (and international) narrative? What is the architect’s role in shaping society within corrupt ecologies of power?

My position relative to To Remain in the No Longer is multiple—I am a citizen, researcher, artist, and filmmaker. My process and the film itself is reflective of that multivalence. The documentary, and the genre more generally, is a tool to see the mundane with new eyes and to reconceive the unfolding of events both large and small. But the process itself necessitates distance. To film was to stand back and bear witness to the moments that shape everyday life in Lebanon: the blackouts, the bank closures, and the myriad shortages. In the moments spent weaving between the residency at the CCA, filming at the fairground, and navigating through Tripoli a curatorial counter-practice evolved: a practice of “accounting” for the gaps, the disruptions, the mirages, and the no-longers.

How do we not drown in the mirage? Or have we already drowned?