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AFAC | 10 Years Later – How to Tell When the Rebels Have Won | Beit Beirut

Curated by Rasha Salti, this group exhibition marks 10 years since the founding of the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), a grant-making institution that has helped to fund over 1000 projects spanning film, photography, music, visual arts, performing arts, literature and cultural research and training. AFAC’s group exhibition at Beit Beirut includes the contributions of 40 artists from 15 countries, whose work the fund has at one time supported.

The works on show include photographs from the Arab Documentary Photography Program, a three-year collaboration with Magnum that set out to mentor documentary photographers in the region. The striking results include photos highlighting the challenges faced by displaced Syrians, the harassment of women in Cairo, mining in Tunisia and Morocco, the discovery of mass graves in Iraq and women’s amusement parks in Jeddah.

The exhibition also features seven installations by prominent local artists. Mona Hallak, who led the campaign to save Beit Beirut from destruction after the war, is showcasing her photo project ‘Positive Negatives’, a collection of prints from 10,000 negatives she found abandoned in a ground floor photographic studio. Visitors are invited to take away a photo and try to trace the person in the portrait, uncovering stories that will become part of the museum’s permanent collection. Another particularly moving project is Cynthia Zaven’s sound installation ‘Perpetuum Mobile’, a simple melody playing through 12 speakers that rises and falls, and swells and diminishes, marking and mourning the passage of time.

Featured Image: Beit Beirut exhibition, photos by Lynn Dagher, courtesy of AFAC

A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, Letters from the past#43.

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India Stoughton graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MA in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies. During her course she spent a semester studying in Damascus, where she developed a deep interest in Syrian, Lebanese and Iraqi art and culture. Having traveled extensively in the Middle East, spending time in Morocco, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Qatar, as well as Syria, she is currently based in Lebanon, where she works as an art and culture reporter.

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