Erased,____Ascent of the Invisible

Erased,____Ascent of the Invisible is as much activist art as it is a documentary. It examines the legacy of the disappeared during the Lebanese Civil War (a part of history I am woefully ignorant about).

It looks at how the photographs used to find the missing became part of a conglomerate whole, and the search for answers to their individual murders disappeared into a symbol of the unsolvable injustice of war. Instead of identifying them, it anonymised them.

17,000 people went missing during the war according to activists, but the government only admits to 2000. Those who are politically expedient to find are found. Those killed by the Israeli army were quickly found. Citizens of European countries whose governments could bring pressure to bear were next. As the Syrian regime waned in power, those killed by them have been unearthed. But for those killed by Lebanese forces, some of whose leaders still retain power to this day, they are mysteriously difficult, if not impossible, to find.

In another example of art being used to obscure rather than uncover the truth, a memorial is installed over a mass grave, a crime site. Concrete with frescos depicting dancing dolphins. A memorial to martyrs of the war ensure no one can dig or excavate the bones of those that lie there unidentified.

The irony comes at the end from bureaucracy. It cannot be admitted that the disappeared are dead. That they were abducted, tortured and murdered. So their family registers still contain their names. 35 years after their disappearances, they are the surviving members of wiped out families. And in the necessity of denial of the crime, the victims are made immortal in the bureaucratic machinery that has no mechanism to let them die.