The nearly 10,000 Palestinian refugees packed into southern Beirut’s Shatila camp live in makeshift homes of corrugated tin, and many long to return to their homeland. In order to depict life in the camp, artist Abdulrahman Katanani used the only materials he had available to him – scraps.
Since then they have raised families and tried to eke out some kind of dignified existence in an area of just one square kilometer. It’s not easy to get by with very little money, but life does go on.
For those of us who live in warm cozy homes that are cooled in the summer time, it’s hard to envision what it must be like to live this way. Which is what makes Katanani’s sculptures so powerful.
Using the materials of their existence – corrugated tin roofing, barbed wire and chain link fence – the artist frames nostalgic scenes – children flying patchy kites or playing soccer, men playing traditional music instruments, and families carrying goods on their heads.
Considering the medium, the pieces are incredibly detailed. They are borne not only from Katanani’s own experiences but from the rest of his community as well.
“When I started to use sheets of tin, people remembered that they live with this material,” Junk-Culture quotes him as saying.
“The saddest thing is that the people in the camps, are also like my materials, forgotten.”