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Ayyam Gallery, Beirut is pleased to invite you to the debut exhibition of the series that won second place at the 2011 Shahbab Ayyam Photography Competition, ‘If Walls Could Talk’ by emerging Lebanese photographer, Lara Atallah. Lending a voice to the current social problems and dissatisfaction's encountered by the Lebanese through her photographic portrayal of various issues, Atallah unveils two societal problems for consideration in this exhibition.
Twelve images taken within an abandoned public school on Bliss Street in Beirut beautifully capture light and shade playfully dancing among the dust-covered tile-work and softly caressing the scrolling ironwork of the staircases, shadows are thrown, creating anamorphic forms to occupy the halls where young lives once took shape. Yet the abandoned silence is deafening and traces of these past lives are carelessly discarded within. ‘If Walls Could Talk’ does not merely romanticize the disappearing architectural heritage of the city, it highlights the social and economical costs of the demolition. Lara Atallah observes gentrification transforming the demography of the Lebanese capital, causing the death of a heritage and the exodus of those who can no longer afford life in the city. Her first solo exhibition sheds light on the resulting, and often overlooked, neglect for the basic societal needs caused by the destructive forces of gentrification.
Lara Atallah was born in Beirut in 1989 and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the American University of Beirut. Since graduating, she has dedicated her work to address social issues, translating her sentiments across different medias, from pod-casts to writings and photography. Atallah has since expanded her work with a new series documenting everything from street vendors to construction sites, with the aim to capture the complex layers of Beiruti life. Placing second in the 2011 Shabab Ayyam Photography Competition in Dubai in 2011, her photographs have since been sold in the twelfth and thirteenth editions of the Young Collectors Auction organized by Ayyam Auctions in Dubai. In 2012, Lara Atallah became the first recipient of the Khaled Ead Samawi Scholarship and will begin studies towards her MFA in Photography.