Along the edges of Beirut is the last pocket of nature open to the public known as the Dalieh of Raouche or The Pigeon Rocks. The Dalieh is an iconic landmark and longstanding haven for working-class Beirut families to dive and swim in its Mediterranean waters. Those who visit once or continue to return, offer a presence for preservation, expressing a collective ownership over this unique coastline. It is a site of freedom, of home, and a place of great cultural memory with its archaeological significance. In one image, an adolescent stands surrounded by limestone contemplating his first jump as sleek condos in the near distance loom, hinting at this cliff’s future as a soon to be site of privatized development.
Artist Mahmoud El Safadi spent time with these divers, observing the bonds and rituals between teenagers coming of age who gather in Dalieh travelling from various neighbourhoods in Beirut. In this selection from the series Becoming, El Safadi documents the solitary moments of young divers as they brace themselves for an exhilarating plunge. The sequence of images story a sacred coalescence of oneself with the sea and with friendship. The act of diving becomes a right of passage from individual to community, symbolizing rebirth. Questions emerge on how we preserve the material and metaphysical relationships we share in familiar spaces, how we retreat to these spaces for relief, joy, and connection, and how we continually navigate social, urban, and natural worlds.
Questions? Please email us at [email protected]