2162 Steps in Hamra is an artist book comprised of a series of exercises and performances where Mismar attempts to connect to the city condensed into one street named Hamra street.
Artist book, 11.5 ×16.5 in. Beirut, 2008
This is a paradox: the paranoia of being rejected by the street versus the insistence to come closer to it. Mismar obsesses about not being able to penetrate the street, about being rejected, so he photographs his reflection on all the shops’ windows; reflection becomes rejection. He wants to know more, to be a reference, so he retraces the street’s panorama with all its details. This piece extends throughout the whole book, covering about 1575 cm/19 feet.
He becomes a mannequin. He stands in a shop window, studying the street from that point of view.
He pasted along the street a poster that says: “A foreign tourist needs help to know Hamra street, understand it, and adapt to it. For help, please call on 70 843689.” Many people offered to guide, and he went as a tourist and video taped a tour in Hamra that was later conceived as postcards in the book. These postcards (below) transform the city in relation to what the guides know and remember of the street.
In search for an 80s movie filmed in Hamra street and titled The Pussycats of Hamra Street, Mismar pasted an announcement around the city that says: “A university student is searching for Hamra Street Pussies, please call on 03-651431.” In the hundreds of phone calls received, and due to the open interpretation that the announcement allows for, all callers thought that this is an ad for a brothel house advertising for its sex workers. From here, the night side of Hamra surfaced, taking him into a journey through the district’s infamous bars. Somewhere along the way, he became a prostitute after one caller mistook him for the woman “who can satisfy his needs.”