28 November 2017
On 18 November 2017, the Lebanese visual artist Chaghig Arzoumanian launched On Fools and Lands, a photo book that was produced with support from Culture Resource in the framework of its Production Awards program. The book launch took place in the Dawawine art space in Beirut.
Combining photography and narrative, Arzoumanian’s work documents the history of Asfuriyeh, the first mental health hospital in the Middle East. It was founded in 1898 in the outskirts of Beirut. Through photographs that the artist had taken of Asfuriyeh since 2010 and the texts of the annual reports of the asylum, she attempts to shed light on the vestiges of the building and the symbolic significance of the place, and to trace the history of the institute from its original foundation through the many changes it has undergone from its original conception to the present day. In the process, she contemplates the visions, choices and challenges that this place has faced during the previous and current century, and the relationship between all this and the collective conscience, modernism and capitalism.