Masking Tape Intervention: Lebanon 1989
Helene Kazan

The domestic space - the home or the house - is the site where a complex range of values converge and where small-scale actions of preparedness or anticipation mediate the effects of risk and its management into a range of affective and experiential registers. These actions (realised in the form of taping or re-enforcing outer walls) work together to design an environment in which the fear of a future risk is continually being rehearsed. While the majority of civilian deaths that occur during armed conflict actually take place in the home (through collapsed and destroyed buildings), the psychological fear of living with this potential also alters the material components that constitute the domestic space. The home provides protection against exterior threat but increasingly becomes a target of the conflict and part of its operational weaponry.

In Masking Tape Intervention: Lebanon 1989 the practice of using tape on windows to stop glass shattering against the violent force of aerial bombing is seen in a home in Mazraat Yachouh, a small village in Lebanon. The film, which is part generated from an archive photograph depicting the interior view of a beige and brown tiled kitchen in 1989 during the Lebanese Civil War, not only shows the motive of taking this image was to produce a keepsake of the home, but reveals the act of taking the photograph is in fact a precise record of the authors insecurity regarding the future.

What follows is a BBC broadcast covering the escalation of violence in Lebanon in the spring of 1989, which includes an interview with the photographer and his family as they alight a boat from Beirut into a refugee camp in Larnaca, Cyprus. Between the two sections of the film, a violent interpenetration of private and public spheres takes place, intensified by the multi-scalar effects of war, as the family absent from the interior image of the home becomes the focus of an international news broadcast.

(De)constructing Risk: a Domestic Image of the Future

Expert methods of calculating risk are employed across industry, aimed at producing the best possible forecast in order to sell a calculable danger to clientele. These snapshots of the future are fabricated using algorithms, fears, hopes, conflicting philosophies and historical experience. (De)constructing Risk: A Domestic Image of the Future reveals the abstract nature of this process of risk-writing, and focuses in particular on the way the domestic arena forms a relationship between risk observed as an abstract calculus (experienced through the real-estate market), and risk felt as a tangible, bodily threat (experienced within the home).

The real estate market in Lebanon has consistently been regarded as its most dynamic area of investment. Even in the current geopolitical climate, the market is experiencing rapid growth, which has encouraged a proliferation of luxury re-development projects to litter Beirut’s urban landscape. Across the luxury re-development projects, a visual strategy is employed to entice interest and investment, where the creative destructing that takes place on site is concealed using hoardings that feature life-size architectural visualization depicting an idealized image of future domestic life. The use of this visual technique re-constructs the material of the private domestic arena into an ‘endless flow of images’ (Colomina, B 2007, 7), and reproduces the present lived-in urban environment into a shimmering mirage of a future, as imaged by the Lebanese construction industry.

This work examines the emerging use of this visual technique, which acts simultaneously in the defense and destruction of the domestic arena’s territorial boundaries. Exposing the contradictions operating across these differing modes of risk perception in order to examine the ways in which they contribute to (de)constructing the home as a site of security.

Caption: Dream Ramlet el Biadar Residence 1550 and Star Residence 1550 are two large construction projects, one next to the other, situated near the ocean front Corniche, in Beirut. Both use architectural visualization to wrap the apparently non-active construction sites, the image shows one of the visualization onsite, with the un-finished building in the background.

Chelsea Knight with Helene Kazan and Natasha Marie Llorens
February 6th, 7 - 9pm

56 Bogart Street 11206


Helene Kazan is a multidisciplinary artist who uses research and archival material in her practice to generate moving image and multimedia installations. Kazan recently participated in “Urban Encounters 2014: Movements / Mobilities / Migrations” at the Tate Britain in London, “Forensis” at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, “Exposure” at Beirut Art Center, Lebanon and “It’s Always too Late: Archiving the Anthropocene” at the Showroom in London. Kazan is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London.