Hotel Rossija, Moscow 2005/2006

The photographic essay “Hotel Rossija” reflects the final hours in the existence of Hotel Rossija before its final demolitian in 2006. Opened in 1967 in Moscow; it was at the time the world’s largest hotel. The hotel was a monumental symbol of the Cold War era and, with its view over the Kremlin was frequented by diplomats, intellectuals, international television teams and prostitutes alike. After Glasnost and the fall of the Iron Curtain, despite great interest from real estate speculation, the building fell into a sharp decline.

Hotel Rossija_01Hotel Rossija_02 Hotel Rossija_03 Hotel Rossija_04 Hotel Rossija_05  Hotel Rossija_08 Hotel Rossija_09 Hotel Rossija_10 Hotel Rossija_11  Hotel Rossija_13 Hotel Rossija_14 Hotel Rossija_16 Hotel Rossija_17  Hotel Rossija_19 Hotel Rossija_20  Hotel Rossija_22 Hotel Rossija_23 Hotel Rossija_24 Hotel Rossija_25 Hotel Rossija_26 Hotel Rossija_27 Hotel Rossija_28   Hotel Rossija_31 Hotel Rossija_32 Hotel Rossija_33 Hotel Rossija_34 Hotel Rossija_35 Hotel Rossija_36 Hotel Rossija_37 Hotel Rossija_39

Advertisements

ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON

Beirut, Oct 2012

Clashes erupted outside government offices in the Lebanese capital Beirut in October last year. Thousands attended the funeral of security chief Wissam al-Hassan who was killed by a car bomb. Hassan is a pivotal figure in Lebanon. He was heavily involved in the investigation of former information minister Michel Samaha, who is an al-Assad supporter. Hassan earlier led an investigation into the assassination of former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri. Opposition figures blamed neighbouring Syria and Hezbollah for the attack. The unrest began after the funeral, the mourners had protested against Syria and its Lebanese allies amid fears the Syrian conflict could spill over. But the confrontation outside the prime minister’s office just lasted for a few minutes, the army shoot in the air to disperse the crowd and most of the protesters went home.

Sunday Afternoon_07Sunday Afternoon_2Sunday Afternoon_4Sunday Afternoon_1Sunday Afternoon_3Sunday Afternoon_06Sunday Afternoon_05

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Memory for Forgetfulness

“I’ve forgotten the alphabet. All I remember are these six letters: B-E-I-R-U-T.”

(Mahmoud Darwish)

Photo Diary, Lebanon 2012

IMG_4407IMG_4586IMG_4449IMG_4456IMG_4404IMG_4432IMG_4551

IMG_4489IMG_4485 IMG_4477  IMG_4472 IMG_4458    IMG_4436   IMG_4462 IMG_4409   IMG_4394  IMG_4372    IMG_4361 IMG_4267 IMG_4296    IMG_4340 IMG_4252 IMG_4212 IMG_4207 IMG_4145                      IMG_3178         IMG_2844 IMG_2835 IMG_2768

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart: Ashura in Nabatiyye, south Lebanon

Ashura in Nabatiyye

by Estella Carpi

The so-called “Islamic Sphere” – al Hala al Islamiyya constituting the predominantly Shiite areas of Lebanon – undoubtedly emerges in its uniqueness on the Aashura’s day.

We were a group of six people heading to Nabatiyye (South Lebanon) yesterday 24th November 2012, on the occasion of the celebration of Aashura’, the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, when the Muslim Shiites commemorate the death of the Imam Hussein, son of ‘Ali, cousin of the Prophet Mohammed.

In Nabatiyye’s procession it is quite easy to follow the historical stages of Kerbala’s battle in 680 D.C, when Hussein died while fighting against Yazid I, who Caliph Muaawiya appointed as successor.

The mourning of his death seems to have tattooed victimhood and suffering in the everyday Shiite social ethics.

What remains unfathomable to the occasional foreign visitor is the normalized sense of human grief that holistically constitutes “Shiiteness”. That is to say their chronic sense of victimhood characterizing the ethical bedrock of this confessional group, as well as the publicly shared value of existential martyrdom, which have paradoxically guided Lebanese Shiites to the road of historical self-empowerment within a neglectful society and a weak state.

Our arbitrarily universalized “human rights approach” leads us, willy-nilly, to poorly grasp – if not misconceive – the genuine sense behind the ethically unacceptable blood-shed and self-flagellation. Such practices, already outlawed in Iran as well as in Lebanon on initiative of the Party of God, are still carried out by few individuals that appear to the visitor’s eye – witnessing Aashura’ in ambitious bid to catch its essence in a few hours – as fanatic extremists.

The boasting aspects of a ceremony in which bleeding and parading play a big role, unavoidably hamper people’s co-empathization and hence de-lyricize the purely psycho-emotional essence of such a commemoration.

In fact it is quite hard, even to the foreign mindful visitor, to identify with the importance of Hussein’s tragic death, to which Shiite identity is inescapably bound. The memory of suffering (Dhikra al Asa), the exhibited wailing and weeping (Nuwah wa Buka’), and oppression (Zhulm) are concepts rarely represented with cognitive faithfulness by the outsider interpreters. Yet it is on them that Shiites relied in the effort of turning themselves from oppressed victims into agents and active citizens, while deploying their religiousness in a cultural way that we can just partially represent.

Into the shoes of foreign tourists of the Aashura’s event and of curious beings greedy for “native authenticity”, if, on the one hand, we cannot totally identify through their martyrdom-oriented religiousness, on the other, we should at least consciously suspend our ethical judgment, in the attempt to reduce the merely stigmatized gap between who They are and who We are, and to consequently avoid any cultural classification and de-legitimization of human suffering.