Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Beirut Book | Work in progress

Autumn smells good in Beirut. Beirut Prints is proud to announce David Hury's fourth book, soon to be published by Tamyras, a Beiruti publishing house managed by Tania Hadjithomas Mehanna. Production is under way at 53Dots Dar el-Kotob printing house, color correction and proof reading will soon lead to the final step: printing and binding the book.

So, what's "The Beirut Book" about anyway? Twelve months ago, David managed a booth at the Beirut Book Fair, here in Beirut, asking people to write a few words about their city. 

David's foreword says it all:
The Beirut Book was born from a series of illustrations inspired by the enamelled blue name plates found at the corner of Beirutís streets, and created by Beirut Prints, a collective of photographers formed three years ago. Initially, these illustrations relied on a simple principle: twist the phrasing of well-known quotations to include the word "Beirut". The very first one was inspired by the U2 song "Where the Streets Have No Name". An observation that turned out to be false since the streets of Beirut actually have names even when its inhabitants are rarely aware of them. Later, this phrase spawned others, 
all drawn from the language of Shakespeare and pop culture: "Star Wars", Nirvana, "Aliens", Orwell...
A few weeks later, in fall 2013, the idea was reimagined as an interactive activity during the book fair "Salon du livre francophone de Beyrouth". (...) 
Visitors of the book fair were able to try their hand at the exercise. They wrote what they wished about the city. In ten days, more than three hundred people had taken part in the game. Lebanese visitors, foreigners, authors. Swedes, Frenchmen, Afghans and Lebanese. A Goncourt winner. A Renaudot winner, and other eminent figures. And later more "penmen" such as composers, photographers, filmmakers, a prime minister, an ambassador... In this book, everyone has been treated equally and identified with a first name and an initial. 
All these words were mixed with those of ordinary passers-by and with those that social media users put up online. And 
naturally, languages followed suit. On the wall plastered with pieces of paper and blue ink, there was English, French and 
Arabic of course, but also Armenian, Croatian, German, Swedish, Russian, Dutch, Spanish, Italian... This diversity is in Beirutís image. Difficult to faithfully reproduce.
"The Beirut Book" has neither page numbers nor chapters or theme classifications. The pages that follow reflect the way Beirutis (at heart or just stopping over, and whatever their 
origins) perceive their city: chaotic, tender, full of hatred, libertarian, fettered, amorous, sexy, nostalgic, critical, 
unbearable, cynical...
So, stay tuned to know more about "The Beirut Book". We'll soon talk about the people involved in the project.

In the meantime, you can like Beirut Prints Facebook fan page, Tamyras Facebook fan page, or follow David on Instagram or Twitter.

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