Beirut and the Golden Sixties: A Manifesto of Fragility
25 March to 12 June 2022
Beirut and the Golden Sixties: A Manifesto of Fragility revisits a dazzling yet disconcerting chapter in Beirut’s modern history bookended by the late 1950s and the late 1970s, corresponding to the Lebanon crisis of 1958 and the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975. The exhibition traces the complicated relationship between Beirut’s artistic cosmopolitanism and the surrounding trans-regional and political antagonisms.
In this period, Beirut was bursting at the seams, not only with people, but also with ideas, as a heterogeneous mix of artists from Lebanon and beyond articulated their distinct, sometimes conflicting visions of modernity. These artists’ drive for formal innovation was often as strong as the tenacity of their political convictions. With 230 artworks by 34 artists, and more than 300 archival documents from nearly 40 collections, this is the most comprehensive presentation to date of a pivotal period in Beirut’s history. In recognising the complex links between the past and the city’s current struggles, the exhibition questions the romanticising narrative of Beirut’s so-called “Golden Age”, which precipitated the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975. This is the story of Beirut’s appetite for life, matched only by its on-going burden of irreconcilable ambitions.
Beirut and the Golden Sixties: A Manifesto of Fragility is curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, Associate Curators, Gropius Bau. The exhibition is organised in cooperation with the 16th edition of the Lyon Biennale.