Art on a Green Line

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Johnny Alam

Montreal, Canada

Beirut’s Green Line (2015)

Acrylic, thread, ink and pigment-transfer on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.

This work superimposes a map of the Green Line developed by the American University of Beirut, over a map of the city from the early years of the French Mandate (1920-43) which saw the annexation of Beirut and other regions to the district of the Mutasarrifiyya to create the Republic of Greater Lebanon.

Lebanese-history schoolbooks explain how Christians rallied for the creation of this nation-state while Muslims preferred to join a larger Arab nation in the aftermath of the First World War and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. These books reproduce the division in the imaginary of the nation governed by Confessionalism, a system which allocates political positions based on religious quotas.

The Green Line is accordingly depicted as a wound representing this intergenerational national trauma.