Lebanon’s Prisons: A charcoaled horizon

The pictures transcribe an agonizing reality lived by everyone in this country to a certain extent, while lingering in a state of indifference and apathy, noted the visitors.
by Salma Yassine

7 September 2019 | 18:11

Source: by Annahar

  • by Salma Yassine
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 7 September 2019 | 18:11

One of the displayed photos in “Lebanon’s Prisons by Haitham Moussawi” exhibition.

BEIRUT: “Lebanon’s Prisons by Haitham Moussawi” is a crescendo of agony blatantly portrayed through narrating photographs.

The exhibition was launched during “Beirut Image Festival” on September 6 and will remain on display until September 14 at Letitia Gallery, Beirut. It aims to showcase the forgotten and marginalized behind bars.

“Haitham Moussawi visited 23 Lebanese prisons that people don’t know of. Each photograph narrates an unfamiliar story, perhaps stories from a different prison,” Ramzi Haydar, the director of Beit El Mousawwer foundation, noted for Annahar.

The photographs feature the uncanny deprivation inmates are subjected to. Besides their charges, they are condemned with inhumane living conditions. This exhibition is a mere reflection of the true reality of Lebanese prisons.

“The exhibition is very powerful in itself because the photographer is documenting a certain situation, yet he is criticizing it indirectly,” Stephanie Ghougassian, a visitor, said.

Neglected details that are prominently captured in frames shape the lives of prisoners and own them. Those photos are witnesses of how inmates are imprisoned in their own abstract realm or concrete corner within a prison. They also portray the diversity and familiarity in an unfamiliar place.

“We live in a world governed by images. Images speak to us more than anything else nowadays. This exhibition is a pioneer in Lebanon and a paradigm for the Arab world in showcasing the concealed harsh prison conditions,” said Hiba Yassin, another visitor.

The exhibition conveys how one’s home could be abridged in a picture that embodies a kitchen, a bathroom, a living room, and a bedroom in one take. Exuberant peculiar details hover upon hidden nooks in these pictures.

The holiness of praying time in women’s cells brings together a collision of different religions. The idea of having a rectangular window as the only aperture through which one views the world is forlorn. One stumbles upon religious slogans, tattoos, self-harm scars, afflictions, and amputated limbs while roaming about the gallery. 

The pictures transcribe an agonizing reality lived by everyone in this country to a certain extent, while lingering in a state of indifference and apathy, noted the visitors.

“It’s my passion to expose an unprecedented idea to the public. There’s a grandeur message embedded within the walls of this exhibition, it being the dehumanization that these inmates are subjected to,” Haitham Moussawi, the photographer behind this exhibition, told Annahar.

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