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Readily Reversible

Performance in the public space

With The Beirut Art Center, Exposure 2012.
Sources and collaboration to the research from:  Save Beirut Heritage, Ghiath Al-Jebawi

The project is based on a research around construction and the kafala system of labor in Beirut. The post-war urban reconstruction began in the early 1990s, and kept proliferating through different scenarios till today, with wide political implications in the region. Locally, political agendas, private interests, territorial negotiations, foreign investment and corruption lie behind the over-expansion of the concrete, both horizontally and vertically. Ad-hoc laws are issued over night to stretch the legal boundaries. Archaeological findings' destiny is negotiated behind the curtains of sites protected by strict surveillance by the private sector.

During several months, Lupo visited skyscrapers under construction, asking the laborers to provide her with a picture taken from the roof-tops as a tool to open some conversations. Syrian architect Ghiath Al-Jebawi was accompanying these explorations and developing dialogues on the situation on the sites, at a time where tensions towards Syrian construction laborers were highly rising.


The relationship with altitude was at the chore of the performance Readily Reversible. Lupo brought blanket and pillow and slept at night in a wire basket hanging from a crane at the 15th floor height of a building under construction. The expression ‘readily reversible’ comes from the definition of sleep as ‘readily reversible state of reduced responsiveness to, and interaction with, the environment’.

The idea of a ‘readily reversible state’ may be associated with attitudes of passing mental ‘absence’, an escape hatch. The wire basket belonging to the construction site, used during the performance, resembles a cage, but becomes a ‘bolt-hole’ as well. The public was reaching the roof-top by the goods-lift or by the stairs, accompanied by the site's laborers along the semi-dark environment.

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