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Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, War Trophy No. 2, 2006–2007, color photograph, 11 5/6 x 15".

IN THE PAST FEW YEARS, group shows of Middle Eastern artists have become increasingly frequent in the West: This spring, “Les Inquiets” (The Anxious) took place at the Centre Pompidou in Paris; last year saw “In Focus,” three interrelated shows in London; and “Without Boundary” was staged at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2006. If the motivation behind many of these shows has in large part been a long-overdue reexamination of Western assumptions about the region since 2001, the results have been mixed. Some, like “Les Inquiets,” were in danger of reducing artists to mere chroniclers of war, while others, like “Without Boundary,” ignored politics altogether.

Beirut and its artists have often been at the center of this international focus. The contemporary art scene in Beirut, as is typical of the Middle East, operates largely outside the system of commercial galleries and

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