A Nation’s Inflation
A Nation’s Inflation is a historical fresco of Lebanon’s contemporary history using its money bills as backdrops for the events and characters that have shaped it. Through an alternatively graphic and comprehensive way the aim was to tackle the complex events that have shaped Lebanon’s history and present them in a chronology respecting at once the numerical order of the bills.
At the onset it was my interest in Lebanon’s history that brought this project to life. I was trying to make sense of the Lebanese Civil War and had a lot of questions to ask. There was the Lebanon my parents had known, there was the war, and there was the Lebanon I knew, and the gap between those different time frames seemed irreconcilable. One of the silent witnesses of this disturbing reality were those bundles of old obsolete Lebanese Lira bills that could still be found laying around. If there were one object of nostalgia representing pre-war Lebanon best, it would be those bills. Throughout the war, the Lira lost its value to reach a state of total inflation in the early nineties. Before the war, the value of the Lira would almost equate the dollar, after the war, it would take three thousand Lebanese liras for a dollar. In the reconstruction process of a country and an economy that had been shattered then came the new bills of this inflated currency reflecting a new reality. The difference in style between the old bills and the new ones was stark. While the old bills could be read as an obvious effort to bridge different geographies together, the new bills contained abstract geometric shapes highlighting the failure of the first attempt. In the schism between the old bills and the new ones I could perhaps uncover the secrets of the Lebanese Civil War and the answer to all my questions. It was hence the currency that would serve as a canvas to guide me through that history. In the geography and the symbols used on those bills, there were already many clues to follow. All I had to do then was to introduce in the bills the protagonists and events that form that story. Combined together, they would give you a historical fresco depicting chapters of Lebanon’s convoluted history.