Al Bustan Family by Jamie Diamond
SHIPPED FROM: New York
ALL FUNDS GO TO BEIRUT NGOS
About the artwork
This portrait was taken in 2015 in Lebanon at the Al Bustan Hotel.
What appears at first glance to be a conventional studio portrait, a document of genuine intimacy, is in fact a fiction. I invited strangers to meet me in a rented hotel room to pose as an artificial family for the camera.
The family portrait depicts a particular mythology or stereotypical ideal of a happy life, yet family is an ongoing performance where roles are assigned, with a constant expectation of an audience, both private and public. Gender and hierarchical norms are enforced through the family, and the act is rehearsed much like a script to a dramatic play. I’m interested in both the performance of the portrait and our innate fluency in its codes and gestures, as well as the shifting paradigm of the traditional family structure.
The work explores the public image of family, themes of photographic truth, gender, class, culture and identity. As indicated by the title, each family is given the name of the hotel where the photograph was taken.
Archival Pigment Print, unframed.
L: 101 cm, W: 152 cm // L: 40 in, W: 60 in
How does it help Beirut?
Every sale contributes to raising money for Lebanon. Funds will be disbursed with full transparency to well-vetted NGOs according to the most pressing needs through the Beirut Emergency Fund 2020.
Shipments can take up to 6–8 weeks to be processed. International shipments might be subjected to customs taxes.
Please bear in mind that we’re a charitable, grassroots initiative; processing and shipping takes longer than it does for commercial online retail. Work is packed and shipped from our contributor’s studios, who (like our customers) are based all over the world.
We’ll keep you informed via email, please contact us if you have further questions, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Transactions will be in US Dollars, because it’s a universally accepted currency in Lebanon and will be counted as ‘Fresh Money’, i.e. non-Lebanese dollars or “Lollars”, which are stuck in the banking system.
[For context: The Lebanese lira had been pegged against the US dollar at a fixed level (1,500 to the dollar) since 1997, the dollar and lira being used interchangeably. Personal savings accounts are kept in US dollars, and large-scale imports of wheat, medicine and fuel, are done in US dollars, too. Now, Lebanon is experiencing a financial crisis of such magnitude that the lira has lost nearly 90% of its value compared to the dollar, and the price of everything has skyrocketed.
Large deposits from wealthy investors in the central bank had been the primary source of dollars, needed to maintain the link to the Lebanese pound. As Lebanon doesn't produce a lot for export, the economy relied on continuing investments, with the central bank offering ever-higher interest rates for large deposits, whose yields could only be covered by newer deposits at even higher rates. This strategy has been likened to a state-sponsored Ponzi scheme, and collapsed once new depositors stopped investing. It didn’t take long for the real dollars in the bank to be far short of the theoretical dollars that had been earned in interest on previous deposits.
Earlier this year, banks put strict limits on cash withdrawals for individual account holders, either limiting dollar amounts, or ceasing to hand them out at all. Withdrawals from savings accounts have been strictly limited, and only allowed at the current lira to dollar rate, meaning that peoples savings are basically evaporating.
Now, the dollar bills that belong to individual citizens are being held by the banks, and referred to as “Lollars”, or Lebanese Dollars, practically mythical objects.]