Young people across Lebanon are creatively giving voice to complex situations by denouncing government failure through art.
Lebanese fine art student Ali Merhi completes his studies as his country experiences its worst economic crisis ever, with unemployment at around 30 percent, the local currency in freefall and faltering electricity and water supplies.
“Life is tough for young Lebanese… Most are thinking about leaving,” Merhi says, covered head to toe in paint.
Entangled in one of the worst economic crises ever seen in the modern world, Lebanon has seen its currency lose more than 90 percent of its value against the dollar since 2019. State services have nearly collapsed and the unemployment rate has nearly tripled to 30 percent.
The water at Ali’s flat has been cut off for two weeks and the electricity rarely comes.
Tired of the crumbling state, he splatters paint over wall-sized works depicting the government’s failures – Lebanon’s now-defunct rail system, the garbage collection crisis, and a ship carrying ammonium nitrate into the port of Beirut that eventually caused a deadly explosion in 2020.
“We should be living our lives, but instead we spend our time looking for the most basic necessities of life,” says Merhi.
“You release the anger in you in the painting,” he tells AFP. “If we’re not able to make a real revolution…we’ll have to find another space to work in.”