As in her art, the Beirut depicted by El Khalil appears as a mélange of contradictions and dichotomies. Flipping through the pages of her book – embellished with the artist’s intermittent scribbles and doodles – one finds themselves in the throbbing heart of the Levant, vicariously experiencing Beirut full-throttle through a young, brazen green-eyed tomboy with a penchant for booze, an aversion to denim, and a yearning to find her place in a land in which she is both a native and an outsider. Brushing shoulders with bleach-blondes in miniskirts, girls in chadors, overly-sexed studs, and affable Hezbollahis whilst navigating ancient thoroughfares and bullet-ridden avenues, the palpable schisms of the ‘Paris of the Middle East’ are exposed to the reader in their entirety. Here, the dichotomies of East and West Beirut, Muslim and Christian, Arab and Phoenician, and pre and post-war (among others) are brought to life with a simplicity and cheek that only the likes of El Khalil could pull off.
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