Light Behind Dahiye

I don’t know if is the researcher, the author, who choose the topics of his investigation; or the study issues come in succession by themselves. Certainly the researcher, the author, feels the professional and civil responsibility of his work; the more important choice is in dealing with or flee them. I do not think that the author, the researcher such as more in general anyone involved in a transformation process of the physical and cultural landscape, face their responsibilities just through the project; rather through the project they learn to identify the responsibility, they recognize them and live with them. Our responsibility and our choices are not solved in the project. In the end, the only thing left for the author, in the most arrogant case, is the vague illusion that he has understood his work. One of the greatest responsibilities is to understand that anyone who works on the landscape, participates and intervenes with his work in the body of an Encyclopedia. I mean that we should shift the focus of our interest on the professional practice and research, rather than on the research subject. we should focus, with a global and never punctual view, on the complex of human and theoretical intentions that led to the choice of a theme and have made it an useful tool for a common emancipation, an instrument of knowledge. From this point of view there are no right or wrong issues, all of them have the same potential value.

This column wants to dig into the work of the authors, in their drawers, showing stages and study materials. That part of a research project which has been discarded as depending on the final editing for a public presentation. This column is intended as a chance to gain a deeper and wider  insight of the career of the authors, their intentions, their positions. 

Planar – Antonio Ottomanelli


Light Behind Dahiye 

photos and text by Armando Perna

I want to present a short reflection from a wider lecture that I held at the Mediterranean Study University of Reggio Calabria; it was a conference on the “method” in documentary photography.
The issue of “method” it’s a key matter in the research projects of those who are engaged in a wide photographic campaign; more generally to anyone involved in various documentary investigations related to the landscape.
The photographer, especially when working on thorny issues, should not have the purpose to prove anything, least of all a preconceived thesis. The photographer should understand the phases of their work as the moments of a personal path of knowledge. This is the precondition that allows the photographer to introduce elements of originality in his work and, more importantly, more elements in his growth path.
As an example I want to introduce the preliminary activity that preceded the construction of a project in 2013 on the southern suburbs of Beirut: “Dahiye”.

The attached map shows the choise to organize the investigation using the port and the airport as reference points. The port and the airport in nearly every case are visible in the sweeping views of the city; these two elements are placed at the extremes of the city and therefore help the observer to place images from a spatial point of view.
There is clear a division in the city, no longer sharp as it was during the Civil War; however this distinction is not without significance.

The low activity which can be seen at the center of the map is due to the fact that Baabda, home of the Presidential Palace as well as several embassies, including the Italian one, and Aamroussieh, a stronghold of the Shiite movement Hezbollah, are on their way “sensitive” areas highly manned, in which is not easy at all to take photographs.

Armando Perna