Where Do I Go?

لوين روح

2 years later

Where Do I go?
Two Years Later

Project Statement

Where Do I Go? started in 2020 when I went to Lebanon right after the Port Explosions of August 4. The country had been already going through months of protests against a corrupt government and months of Covid-19 lockdown. The explosions further plunged Lebanon into the abyss and into a total economic meltdown, with shortages of cash, gas, electricity, medicine, and water.

However, I found hope and inspiration in the younger generation, especially the women who were cleaning the debris and volunteering in the reconstruction after the explosions. Instead of focusing on the destruction, I found myself in awe of them, their creativity, strength, beauty, dignity, and resilience, and I chose to focus on their majestic presence.

Over the past three years, the project evolved as I kept collaborating with them. The port explosions started feeling like part of the linear history of a country that has been defined by conflicts for close to 50 years. We started collaborating against meaningful and symbolic backdrops of the unique textures of the country: layered walls of Beirut, Mediterranean seascape, raw mountains, traditional and often abandoned buildings, and the many layers of destruction accumulated over years of Lebanese Civil War and numerous conflicts to ultimately this last massive human catastrophe.

Every picture has a narrative. The women, the land, the architecture felt all intertwined, and I became fascinated in telling the story of Lebanon through the eyes of a woman and about women – their story, my story, our collective story. The collaboration is intense, urgent, creative, emotional, and immensely personal. The need to hold on to creativity and self-expression feels more important than ever.

I see my younger self in these young women. I viscerally feel their hopes, their pains, their dreams, their fears, their dilemmas. I was their age when I left Lebanon in 1984 during the Civil War in what had been the largest wave of emigration out of the country – until now. Many are now at that same juncture. Some are leaving; others are staying.

Even though I left almost 39 years ago, I keep going back. I am most inspired in Lebanon, by the texture, the beauty, the people, the creativity, the craziness – all of it. I have a visceral attachment to the place, to the land, to the history. The universal story of exile.