The lives and deaths of inhabitants in abandoned houses
Gregory Buchakjian

in OAR: The Oxford Artistic and Practice Based Research Platform, Issue 2, "Validity",  2017

Link to article:

Les vies et morts des habitants des maisons abandonnées
Grégory Buchakjian
in OAR: The Oxford Artistic and Practice Based Research Platform, Numéro 2, "Validity", 2017

Lien de l'article:

On November 28, 2010, writer and theatre director Valerie Cachard came for a photo session inside a modernist edifice designed in the 1950s by Polish architect Karol Schayer. A man was guarding the building. Neighbourhood rumours suggested he was ‘Syrian intelligence’. We told him we were gathering evidence for the international probe of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri that took place in the vicinity. Our argument was not very credible, as Valerie was wearing a costume she fabricated for Matriochka a performance she staged two weeks earlier bout femininity and memory, but he let us in. In the aftermath, Valerie expressed a wish to write an essay about the photographs. She organized interviews aiming to establish links between my personal history and abandoned houses. Afterwards, she accompanied me on the ground. Unexpectedly, Valerie’s uncle inhabited the first building I randomly selected, before he immigrated to Brazil. She searched for belongings of his household, but only found traces of others, mainly police records. This visit paved the way to one year of informal archaeological missions. Many buildings were filled with objects, furniture, and papers. We established a protocol according to which we would retrieve official documents and personal artefacts (letters, photographs, diaries, artworks) that could provide evidence on the lives of the former inhabitants and eventual illegal occupants (squatters, warriors…). We recovered, cleaned and archived approximately 700 relics with the aim of either returning them to their heirs or transferring them to a public institution.  

>> related project:
Abandoned Dwellings in Beirut

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