Fotohof opens an exhibition of photographs by Randa Mirza
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Fotohof opens an exhibition of photographs by Randa Mirza
Randa Mirza. A privileged building in a privileged community. from the series: Beirutopia (2011–2019).

SALZBURG.- Since the end of the Lebanese civil war, Beirut has been striving to regain its splendor through a construction boom that was fueled by large inflows of foreign capital. To advertise for their buildings, real estate agencies mount huge billboards around the construction sites representing the outcome of their urban vistas; these image syntheses simulate the building, its interiors, surroundings, ghost-like dwellers and their lifestyle.

For the last decade, Randa Mirza has been photographing these virtual renderings framed within their real environment. This dichotomy and juxtaposition conjure the uncanny in these photographs. Her "Beirutopia" series reflect the transformation of Beirut city foreboding the burst of Lebanon’s economic bubble and its ongoing financial collapse.

With traffic restrictions and curfews rules installed throughout last spring to contain the Corona virus, Beirut looked like the utopic vision of these advertising announcements. "We promise, we deliver" is a recent photographic series that shows the city empty, soulless, as in a rendered poster.

Lebanon's current crisis reached its climax in the port explosion on August 4, 2020 that damaged half of Beirut and its social fabric, leaving many of its residents wounded and homeless. "View from home" is a photographic work by Jeanne et Moreau (aka Lara Tabet and Randa Mirza). The artists used binoculars to photograph the city from their home window overlooking Beirut's port. This work encompasses two time span − before and after the explosion, which emphasizes Beirut's cyclical pattern of construction and destruction.

Beirutopia is, in essence, the title of a counter-utopian situation, one that does not differentiate between illusory images and the pastiche narrative they embody. Randa Mirza’s photographs become in this sense, spaces of resistance.

Randa Mirza, *1978 in Beirut; lives and works in Marseille and Beirut.

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