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Walls That Speak

The graffiti on the walls of Beirut offers an intriguing insight into both the city and the psyche of its people.

Last Modified: 03 Apr 2013 13:06
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The walls of Beirut talk volumes about the city and its habitants. Many of the city's bullet-scarred walls are covered in words, drawings, signs, slogans and graffiti art. They offer a glimpse both of a vibrant and emerging art culture as well as the abiding dark force of political sectarianism.

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"Walls communicate with people in different ways. Sometimes they whisper. Sometimes they shout. And sometimes they choose to speak more eloquently," says Tarek Chemali, a researcher. "Walls keep many memories and express opinions."

This energetic film meets young graffiti artists and designers bringing colour and creativity to the drab urban greyness. It also meets photographers and authors who have recorded the writings on the walls over time to offer insight into both the capital city and the complex psyche of the Lebanese.

"Beirut's residents use graffiti to leave a fingerprint or a tattoo. To mark out their territory and to show it belongs to a certain party, ideology, or even sect," explains Tala Saleh, a graphic designer and writer. "Each district has its own graffiti which in a way sets its territorial boundaries. Parties don't usually trespass on each other's territory."

With sectarian conflict next door in Syria threatening to spill over into Lebanon, this film provides a colourful perspective on an important and sensitive topic.

"There aren't many areas in Beirut where there aren't political logos. It's because people have thoughts and have something to say," says Mira Mortada, a graphic designer and researcher.

This episode of Al Jazeera World can be seen from Tuesday, April 2, at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 2000; Wednesday: 1200; Thursday: 0100; Friday: 0600; Saturday: 2000; Sunday: 1200; Monday: 0100; Tuesday: 0600.

Click here for more Al Jazeera World.



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