vanessa abou harb
In the heart of Beirut, the DOM, known as “Nawar”, and the stateless street-based children (SBC) are considered second degree citizens. Known for their rich crafts and culture, the DOM fear the disappearance of their heritage. SBC struggle as they grow to maintain a sustainable life, as they have no access to any of their human rights.
Located in Sayfeh, downtown Beirut, O17 Utopia offers a beacon of hope. In the latter, the DOM teach the SBC their crafts, preserving their culture and providing a trade for the SBC. Together, they produce, and sell the crafts, shedding light on their cause.
An informal landmark, it uses the political topology adopted in October the 17th revolution, and the flexibility, and informality found in the living conditions of the SBC and DOM. O17 Utopia is but a political sculpture, namely a spectacle of causes, as French philosopher Guy Debord defines it.
VAs we dive underwater, we see the units creating a small community, scattered in the ocean, all disconnected but connected, dispersed yet assembled, with submarines swimming around from unit to another, beside the sea creatures, invading their habitat and creating a new one. The ocean turns into a museum, recording traces of the past water levels, units anchored down, counting the new depth of water as water level continues to rise, and machine continues to float.