Summer 2006 was set to be Lebanon’s post civil war “Golden Summer.” Hundreds of thousands of tourists had flooded the streets of Beirut hoping to catch a taste of an exotic summer in the Orient. Lebanon did not fail them.
On July 12, 2006 Israel began a 34-day siege on Lebanon. One million citizens found themselves displaced. Over one thousand were killed. Thousands of bombs were dropped. Millions of bomblets blanket the south of Lebanon. Over 15,000 tons of heavy fuel oil swallowed up the shores of Lebanon. There was no end in sight.
But Lebanon’s artists were busy. They reacted, documenting this tragic event. They resisted through their drawings and commentaries. They questioned all sides through their writings and blogs. They cried. They took part in relief work. They witnessed; they wrote, painted, sculpted and took photographs. They lived out the long hot summer days.
Espace SD and xanadu* present Nafas Beirut, a multimedia venue for artists bearing witness. The aim is to create a platform for artists, poets, writers and filmmakers to share their work produced during or in reaction to the Israeli siege of Lebanon of Summer 2006. Believing it crucial to highlight these works, Nafas Beirut documents the emotions and experiences, and brings artists and viewers together, historicizing the moment. Nafas Beirut is a platform for these immediate responses through a multimedia exhibition and a month long series of events including, video screenings curated by various organizations and collectives, concerts, an open mike poetry jam, and a lecture on the oil spill.
The multimedia exhibit includes more than 40 artists of different backgrounds, hailing from around the world. These works are reactionary; they were made out of an urge. To highlight a few, they are raw as seen in the 12-poem piece of Wissam Nouchi entitled “Remember to Forget Beirut”. They are emotional as Sintia Karam, trapped outside of Lebanon wanders around Berlin hoping that somehow her footsteps would take her straight back to Beirut. All the way from Australia, Maissa Alameddine and Fadia Kisrwani Abboud, create an installation entitled “Return to Sender,” in reaction to the millions of Israeli flyers that were dropped on Lebanon. Lina Hakim creates an installation in homage to her real heroes of the war: the teenagers she met while volunteering at a shelter. Zena el-Khalil paints a portrait of Hassan Nassrallah as seen through her eyes. Raed Yassin displays his daily adventures with Nabil Fawzi, a.k.a. Superman. Maria Kassab’s delicate drawings portray her downward spiral into darkness and depression. And already, some find themselves moving on as Rowina Bou Harb reveals in her blank white canvas entitled, “Don’t Feel Like Talking Anymore, I Almost Forgot What I Felt.”
Nafas: Beirut will run from October 13 to November 17, 2006. Espace SD is open daily from 3-8pm except Sundays.