Dwellarium: Blackout in Beirut


A series of sound pieces capturing and manipulating the sounds of generators that imbued the atmosphere of Beirut, robbed from electricity, amidst a economic collapse.

This work was  part of The Listening Rooms: Seats in the Abandoned Theatre curated by the Museum for the Displaced- it can be fully experienced on their platform.

A Sound Sample
Production and Trumpet: Dima Mabsout
Post-Production: Mohammad Golabi

August 4th 2021

I invite you to dwell in a series of soundscapes—field recordings of the atmosphere in Beirut today—one year after the explosion that wiped out half the city and all its livelihood. Amidst the capital collapse of a mafia government that never cared for its people, a hungry people who, having taken to the streets, were silenced by a global pandemic and trapped between dense concrete. The scorching heat of a climate crisis cannot be soothed by the little resources everyone is fighting over. Blackouts every day and the rumbling is ever-present. Without it, there would be complete darkness.

Sound is all encompassing, you cannot look away, but you can grow so accustomed to it that it can cease to exist. This rumbling never stops, here in Beirut. It is the sound of diesel combustion, permeating every corner. It is the machine breathing—loud and consistent, so consistent that you forget about it completely. This has become our new neutral, a new kind of silence.

We are dominated by ears that refuse to listen, by systems that isolate us, detach us from the tools and means that keep us alive, keep us in place, in need, inept, hooked, always. We forget that movement is part of life, that silence can be sweeter than this, that another world order is possible. Lift with me, this rumbling from the unconscious, in a journey of play, with the dissonance of the global way of life as we know it.