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Artist Soloway Gallery

Soloway Gallery



Soloway is pleased to present 2d Skin, a solo exhibition by Manal Abu-Shaheen featuring works from two ongoing photographic series based in Beirut, where she was born. Driven by the paucity of visual records of the social, political, and architectural changes affecting Lebanon's landscape, Abu-Shaheen has ventured to construct her own photographic archive of contemporary Beirut — a cityscape now dominated by advertising billboards importing Western ideals of luxury, happiness, and excess. Advertising and urban construction are two of the driving forces of Beirut’s economy today. A decade-long construction boom, aided by foreign investments and neoliberal interest, has reshaped the city, which has been rendered almost unrecognizable as historical landmarks have been erased in favor of exclusive real-estate projects. Shot on site, Abu-Shaheen’s landscapes and street photographs explore the relationship of a transforming post-war urban setting to its billboard advertising, the latter characterized by its monumental scale and increasingly congested placement throughout Beirut. Complementing her photographic work in this study, the artist has collected digitally-rendered designs from the Beirut offices of global advertising agencies and architecture firms. These appropriated renderings (of development projects both realized and abandoned) function as an archival anthology of images created by many different authors — all of whom are invested, to varying financial and spiritual degrees, in imagining Beirut’s future. The exhibition takes its title from an Email exchange between Abu-Shaheen and an advertising executive who wrote her, “The world of advertising in Lebanon gives a 2d skin to the city, creating sometimes the strangest contrast ever.” Abu-Shaheen employs this description of commercial photography to chart relationships of time, history and place, while critically engaging the weight of the forces that produce systems of living in a postcolonial global environment.

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Soloway Gallery

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