Wonder Beirut is a multifaceted project based on the work of a fictional Lebanese photographer named Abdellah Farah that the artists created as a cinematographic character and who, at the end of the 1960s, produced images that they would use in the project several years later.
During the war years, when he was often short of chemicals, photographer Abdallah Farah stopped developing his films. He felt no need to do so, storing his exposed but undeveloped rolls in drawers, where they formed an archive of latent images. Since then, and despite renewed access to photographic materials, Farah has continued this practice: he leaves the rolls undeveloped, but nevertheless documents them carefully, writing a detailed description of his photographs in small notebooks. His pictures, therefore, give free rein to the viewer’s imagination.
The films with their latent images, displayed as contact sheets, form part of the photographer’s personal diary, relaying the stories of his family and sentimental life. But they also form a photographic investigation into the history of contemporary Lebanon and its political, urban and socio-economic changes.
Catalogue Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige / JRP RINGIER Edition, 2013