Presented in 2012 at The Running Horse Contemporary Art Space and Umam D&R in Beirut
A walk through
The Oath was an installation intermingling large canvasses, drawings and scrolls with the sole purpose of reenacting a moment of survival, an incident that happened in 1989 in Beirut. In these years there was a delicate balance between the normalcy of life and sudden explosions of violence that would result in the random death of innocent civilians. I survived and this was my pledge as a survivor.
Scheme for a temporary memorial
Sometimes I do not understand what pulls me there. Why go back to the Civil War? Yet, no matter what happens, I am constantly compelled to look back, think and ultimately make sense of it. People often like to reflect on their childhoods. My childhood is the war. As a child, there are specific moments when you believe to start making sense of the mysterious and strange world of adults. What a nation is, what a government does and what is so utterly compelling about men in uniforms. As a child, everyday was an initiation to understand the modalities and codes of this world. My initiation also included the codes and rules of war, for I too wore a uniform. In the year 1989 I was a scout and dressed in my Baden Powell outfit I would spend every Saturday learning the modalities of survival and interdependence. On one fateful day I was supposed to take part in a large ceremony along other scouts to present my oath. The ceremony was however disrupted by a sudden outpour of bombs that started falling all around the stadium where we were. Throughout the Lebanese Civil War more than two hundred thousand people were killed, many in such random outpours of violence. For many of my adult years I had already been obsessed with the project of a memorial. With The Oath I explored my personal ties with this project. I remember because I am aware that this remembrance is based on one simple fact, I am, as many others are, a survivor. My commitment to the project of a memorial was thus a pledge held back through time that I could now fulfill. Yet, many question the need to remember, and the urge to write the history of these wars through the stories of those who fell. To those who still ask why I thus answer. I grew up amidst your wars, amidst your murderous madness.
I have seen the blazing corpses of children set ablaze by your bombs and while I gazed at these flaming bodies I grew aware at that very moment that I was a survivor and as a survivor, as a child of the war that has been spared from your madness I would grow up with the enraged frightened eyes of that child and I will ask justice for all the others who have been killed, and if not justice, then remembrance. Today I remember the rattle of gunfire, the deafening sound of deflagrations, the echoing of bombs, the sound of shattering glass, the fear and anxiety in my parents eyes, the empty sound of fear, the checkpoints, the barricades, the ruins, the demonstrations, the images on television, we are in 1989. I remember. I was a scout. I had a black cat. I was waiting to present my oath. I never did.
Hymne à l’amour