The Truth of Fiction: Some Stories of the Lebanese Civil Wars
The article looks at the narrative and performative strategies employed by Lebanese artists of the so-called postwar generation to produce and put-forward non-sectarian and post-identitarian tales of the civil wars (1975–1989) in a situation characterized by “state-sponsored amnesia” on one side, and the pursuing of a divisive, partisan politics of memory on the other. Focusing on two works in particular—Walid Raad’s expansive and trans-medial project The Atlas Group (1999–2008) and Akram Zaatari’s video-essay Letter to a Refusing Pilot (2013)—I examine how practices of fictionalization and abstraction of real events permit to side-step entrenched and partisan accounts, while, at the same time, maintaining a stringent referential relation with the historical reality via the documentary form and the use of actual archival materials. The artists construct internally disrupted and disjunctive narratives out of the rubble of individual experience so to open up the possibility for a speculative post-identitarian collectivity.
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