A Journey of Loss  2020/22
35 photographic prints, ink drawings and inscriptions.

Un itinéraire de perte 
35 tirages photographiques, inscriptions et dessins à l'encre.

A Journey of loss

In 2019, Hala Younes commissioned me a setup of Fragments of the Ridgeline, the photographic series I created for The Place that remains, the first pavilion of Lebanon at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, for a new display at Beit Beirut. The venue being the former Barakat building that was a stronghold on the demarcation line that divided Beirut from 1975 to 1990, I decided to emphasize on the limits of the territory – the watershed of Beirut River – and the demarcations it carried during the 19th and 20th centuries. The first gesture was to draw the ridgeline on the wall, the second to stick small prints of the photographs according to their geographic location.

I installed the piece on 24 February 2020 and was unsatisfied. The line was not visible enough, the prints were not as small as I wished and were not correctly placed - many were leaning - and there was no possibility of redoing it. The Place that remains opened at Beit Beirut on 5 March 2020. I didn’t attend the preview, didn’t share the event and made no mention of that. A few days later, the exhibition closed because of covid. 19 lockdown and on 4 August 2020, the Beirut explosions devastated the city. Since then, this completely disappeared from my mind, as if it never happened.

The Place that remains actually remained in place for two years. It opened back on 10 February 2022. On that evening I visited the exhibition for the first time and viewed my piece as the remnant of something. As it lasted untouched for such a long time, I couldn’t ignore this unwanted child anymore. Reading the photographs, captions handwritten in Arabic and drawings led me to the conclusion that these had less to do with geography and history and more with my personal path. When I responded to the commission of the Lebanese Pavilion in Venice, I was accompanying a beloved person in the process of passing away. Besides their relation with crises, wars and migrations, the photographs of debris and structures in the lonely landscapes or the former luxurious hotels were a testimony of mourning. Therefore, I changed the name of the Beirut version of Fragments from the Ridgeline to A Journey of Loss.

“There is a time when death is an event, an ad-venture, and as such mobilizes, interests, activates, tetanizes. And then one day it is no longer an event, it is another duration, compressed, insignificant, not narrated, grim, without recourse: true mourning not susceptible to any narrative dialectic.”

Excerpt From: Roland Barthes, Mourning Diary

Gregory Buchakjian, 13 February 2022

The Place that remains, Beit Beirut Cultural Center, Beirut, 2020, 2022.

selected review
- L'Orient-Le Jour, 12'02'2022

related project
- Fragments from the Ridgeline, Venice Architecture Biennale, 2018

- The Place that Remains. Recounting the Unbuilt Territory

video interview
- Gregory Buchakjian at the Lebanese Pavilion, Venice Architecture Biennale