The Place that Remains Lebanese Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Carole Lévesque

The Place that Remains, Lebanese Pavilion for the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale

A Slit through Thunderous Clouds

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There has been a long teaching of what a landscape is, how one should look at it to recognize the appropriate features and gaze upon them with pleasure. But when the idea of landscape was formulated somewhere in the 15th century, the land did not suddenly stop from being worked upon or from suffering all sorts of man-made or natural disasters so that the ideal landscape could be maintained. Not only did the land keep on changing, our conception of the ideal landscape, tributary to the social condition within which it is gazed upon, also changed. While the mountains first appeared as frightening, sublime, majestic, to being beautiful and enjoyable, they were at the same time lived and understood by those who inhabited them as part of an everyday terrain that certainly had to be tamed but that also exerted a need for cultural adaptations. Whether in the mountain or the valley, the everyday experience of the land shaped a culture that required attention to weather conditions, to the soil’s composition, to distances needed to be traveled, to what the land had to offer and to how one could take care of the land in return. In this way, an agrarian know-how was formed and its depiction became integral to how the landscape ought to be read because knowing the land –connaître le pays, participates in producing a country –produire le paysage. A landscape is therefore a spatial cultural representation in that it shows the relations a people has with its land as well as where value is placed: a well-tended landscape, though not necessarily ideal, speaks of the socio-cultural as well as the socio-economic context in which it is grounded.

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