"'Hotel Petra' is Robert POLIDORI’s portrait of the interiors of the now demolished Hotel Petra in Beirut, a grand icon of the city’s pre-war history.
The Hotel Petra was once one of the most popular hotels in Beirut, conveniently located in the city center adjacent to the Grand Theatre.
After the Lebanese Civil War of 1975–90, Rafiq al-Hariri founded a holding company, Solidere, whose goal was the selective demolition and reconstruction of downtown Beirut’s urban fabric.
In 1992 the Hotel Petra was set aside for later restoration, and from that moment essentially cut off from any human intervention.
Polidori gained access to this site in 2010, almost 20 years after its mothballing, and was transfixed by what he discovered:
'It’s truly rare to find examples of such undisturbed decomposition,' POLIDORI explains. 'Usually the normal wear and tear of human traffic would violate and destroy the surfaces of such a delicate ecosystem of layered paint. I came to view these walls as a living process of slow decay whose end effect closely resembled the concerns of many contemporary abstract painters ... only in this case their genesis was not fixed or intentional, but the gradual summation of several painters and workmen modifying the wall surfaces at different points in time for a range of reasons. I was quite taken by their beauty and was moved to photograph them for posterity.'" (publisher's note)
About the phtographer (*1951 in Montréal):
Robert Polidori currently lives and works in Ojai, California.
In 1998 he won the World Press Award and he has twice won the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography (1999 and 2000).
Polidori was a staff photographer for The New Yorker from 1998 - 2006.
Polidori has published over 15 photo books, most recently Chronophagia (Steidl, 2014) and the two-volume book, Rio (Steidl 2015, with Marc FERREZ).
These follow the three-volume compilation of his pictures of Versailles, Parcours Museologique Revisite (Steidl, 2009) and After The Flood (Steidl, 2006), which recorded the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
The artist’s major solo exhibitions include a mid-career retrospective at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, Fotografias at the Instituto Moreira Salles, and After the Flood at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2006.
His work is held in numerous collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.
'Hotel Petra' ist eine beeindruckende Arbeit über eine architektonische Ikone aus der Zeit vor dem von 1975 -1990 tobenden Libanesischen Bürgerkrieg. POLIDORI machte die Aufnahmen für diesen Band bereits 2010.
Über den Fotografen Robert POLIDORI (*1951 in Montréal, CAN):
Robert Polidori lebt in New York und arbeitete regelmäßig für The New Yorker (bis 2006), Geo und Architectural Digest Deutschland.
Polidori wurde vielfach ausgezeichnet, u.a. mit dem World Press Award (1998)und dem Alfred Eisenstaedt Award der Columbia University (1999, 2000)