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like the delayed rays of a star
by Heather M. O’Brien
like the delayed rays of a star contemplates the role of the gaze in photography while attempting to pierce the propaganda surrounding US-centric perceptions of Beirut. Heather M. O’Brien’s work immerses the viewer into her domestic space through sun-drenched portraits from her Ottoman-era home. The images aim to question the misplaced anxieties of what it means to grow up in a post-9/11 image landscape, to live and work in Lebanon, and give birth to one's first child in Beirut on August 4th—the same day as the catastrophic 2020 Beirut explosion. The photographs confront this rhetoric and conditioned fear by documenting a confluence of "perfume, smoke, fruit, flowers, baking bread, and exhaust fumes" with the subtleties of passing time ruptured by light; these nuanced moments draw inward, decentering the authorial lens, intentionally shifting how mediated photographs affect one's community.
In moments charged by Beirut's 2019 rebellion, economic collapse, the pandemic, and the most recent 2020 blast, this work seeks to resist narrative tropes of a western gaze by asking us, "will there ever be another way to see Beirut?"
Softcover digital offset, 10 in. x 7 in., 160 pages, edition 100, 2021
Texts by Heather M. O’Brien, Juli Carson, Yasmine Nachabe Taan & Corinne May Botz
Design by George Hanna
Printed by brilliant :
Published by Seaton Street Press
© HEATHER M. O’BRIEN