Stefan Roch, Phd student in the Department of Public Policy, spent four weeks in Beirut, Lebanon this May. In his free time, he wandered around the city searching interesting situations, people and places that he found “were meaningful and would capture a certain aspect of Beirut and living and working in it.” His photos are on display in CEU’s Exhibition Hall in Nador 9.
Roch's photos are arranged in six categories, one of which is "Taxi Beirut,” portraying taxi drivers. Many of them were from Syria, fleeing the war. “Even when they didn't speak English, they just had to mention Syria, and point their finger as a gun and say "boom boom,” Roth recalls. Photography helped him engage with the people and the city in an open and forthcoming way, “to walk through the streets with open eyes and pay attention to the details, to the way people interact, dress, to the way houses look and public space is used.”
Expo Beirut is a spinoff from Roch’s blog posts on Beirut and Lebanon. Together with the Center for Arts and Culture (CAC), Roch selected photos for the exhibition that have a “meta narrative structure, an introduction, a middle and an end.” The first eight pictures of "Beirut is," including photos of a bombed out cinema and destroyed houses, serve as the introduction, focusing on themes as war and destruction, poverty and religion. The second section, "Beirut lives," goes deeper. It includes people in public spaces, interacting and dealing with some of the themes of the introduction. The final part, the conclusion is entitled "Beirut works." Based on the different meanings of “works,” it combines the larger themes of destruction, tensions, and religion that are omnipresent in this region. Roth’s own conclusion is that “Beirut works because people work. Despite all the instability, the hardship and the dangers in the region, people find occupation, are productive and get on with their lives. Work creates meaning, gives them a reason to get out of bed every day and go on despite a very unclear future.”