UNT on the Square shows documentary work of professor

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 17:21

What: The multi-media exhibition Beirut, Philadelphia, a survey of an ongoing project by UNT Department of Radio, Television and Film assistant professor Eugene Martin.

When: Feb. 18 (Monday) – March 9 (Saturday); gallery hours are 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday with extended hours until 8 p.m. Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: UNT on the Square, 109 N. Elm St., Denton

Cost: Free

Additional events: 5:30-7 p.m. Feb. 21 (Thursday) opening reception; 7 p.m. Feb. 28 (Thursday) film screening of Beirut, Philadelphia; 6 p.m. March 6 (Wednesday) film screening of Invisible Cities. All are free.

Contact: UNT on the Square at 940-369-8257


Two documentary films, computer stations with 30 hours of additional video and 120 photographic prints will give visitors to UNT on the Square a glimpse of an ongoing project by University of North Texas faculty member Eugene Martin at an exhibit that opens Feb. 18 and runs through March 9.

The exhibit includes an opening reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Feb. 21 and two film screenings. The 7 p.m. Feb. 28 screening of the documentary Beirut, Philadelphia takes a look at the roughly three-block area of Philadelphia nicknamed “Beirut” because of violence associated with it. The film includes diary footage shot by young people who live in the area, interviews with residents and landscapes of urban scenes from 2007 to 2012, said Martin, assistant professor in the Department of Radio, Television and Film. The 6 p.m. March 6 screening of Invisible Cities was filmed in the same areas of north Philadelphia and uses a documentary approach to explore urban areas as landscapes, Martin said.

In 2007-08, Martin received a commission from Temple University to create an oral history in the area known as “Beirut.”

“These interviews formed the basis of three works. The first was a play, titled ‘Shot,’ which I co-conceived with Doug Wager and Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon,’” Martin said.

The play went on to win The National College Theater Award from the Kennedy Center. The second phase of the project resulted in the documentary Beirut, Philadelphia. The exhibit and a book of photographs, which will also be on display at the gallery, are the third phase of Martin’s project.

“The conditions of the area I work in have become harsher. The effects of the recession have been drastic there,” Martin said. “The FBI usually ranks the neighborhood as one of the top 10 most dangerous areas of the United States each year. The university hospital near Beirut is used to train Army surgeons who are to be sent to the Middle East on how to treat gunshot victims.”

Martin visits the Philadelphia neighborhood twice a year and plans to do so for another five years.

“I see my role as one of an artist who is creating a longitudinal record of people and where they live,” said Martin, who added that he would like visitors to spend time with the images and sounds he has collected to get a sense of what it is like to live there. “Despite the harsh conditions they have to face, there are a lot of positive things that are described in the oral histories by the women who live there. There are, surprisingly, many children who live there. In my work, I show the creativity of many of the people who live there.”

The UNT Institute for the Advancement of the Arts (IAA) and the Department of Radio, Television and Film are presenting this exhibition.

About IAA

The University of North Texas Institute for the Advancement of the Arts was launched on Oct. 21, 2009. The institute’s goal is to further the university’s reputation for nurturing artistic and creative expression by recognizing artistic contributions and sharing them with the public, and enhancing the learning environment for UNT students.

UNT News Service
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