Sonny Sanjay Vadgama

b.1981, Croydon, UK. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

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Sonny Sanjay Vadgama, Eye For An Eye (still), 2009
Sonny Sanjay Vadgama, Eye For An Eye (still), 2009

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Sonny Sanjay Vadgama is a British artist working with film, animation, print and holography. He has studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art, London, the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm, and Central St Martins, London. In Sonny Sanjay Vadgama’s work entitled Eye For An Eye, a circular chain composed of images of the Beirut Hilton can be seen floating in a dark void. An animation of the 2002 controlled demolition of the Beirut Hilton Hotel is overlaid with news reporting from the 1970s describing the conflict in the Lebanon. It alludes to the cyclical nature of violence and the contradiction inherent in religious involvement in conflicts. The unused and distressed Hilton Hotel became a symbol for the Lebanese civil war after standing for over 30 years; its demolition can be understood as a moment of renewal for Beirut.The collapse of one building prompts another to follow suit endlessly, in a vicious cycle, whilst a voice sings of a lost city in the background. Like so many of the conflicts in and beyond the Middle East, the endless destruction of each building personifies mankind’s actions of seeking out revenge and personal justice, often unknowingly trapping themselves and generations to come in a circle of violence.

“In 1975, just days before its grand opening, the Hilton Hotel in Beirut became the site of fighting in Lebanon’s Civil War. Christian and Muslim militiamen fought room-to-room for control of the building and other nearby hotels. Throughout the 15 years of bitter conflict, its occupancy passed back and forth between opposing factions. After the conflict the Hilton remained unused and was one of many buildings that stood as a painful reminder of a dark past until it was demolished on July 14th 2002. Importantly though, Eye For An Eye does not seek to alienate or accuse one side of a past conflict. It focuses on the present and future by using the past as a means to articulate its message: one that is ultimately about the futility of civil conflict and war, as well as the tragic loss of life that follows.”