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Miraculous Beginnings, 2000
DVD without sound
Courtesy the artist
April 13, 1975 – anonymous gunmen kill four Christians during an unsuccessful attempt to
assassinate a political leader in Beirut. In retaliation, Christians attack a bus carrying Palestinian
passengers, killing 26 people. The ensuing religious and political conflicts would continue for the
next fifteen years.
In 1989, artist Walid Raad began a project called the Atlas Group, an imaginary foundation whose purpose was to research and document the contemporary history of Lebanon, with particular emphasis on the wars of 1975 to 1990.
The historical documents in the Atlas Group archives do not record what actually happened during this time. Instead, they confuse imagination and reality. Each document relates to a fantastical story about the experiences of an individual character. Miraculous Beginnings is credited to a character named Dr. Fadl Fakhouri, who is described as a renowned Lebanese historian who carried home movie cameras
wherever he went. On one of these cameras, the story goes, he would expose a frame of film every time he thought the wars had ended. The result is a rapid one-minute montage of single images of the city of Beirut, each flashing by too quickly to register properly in the mind of the viewer.