A year after the Beirut blast, a sculpture has now risen at the site of the explosion, the remains of which constitute its material – literally, physically, as it is made of steel from the port where the explosion took place, as well as metaphorically, as it encompasses the wounds of the people in Lebanon.
Artist Nadim Karam’s creation, the sculpture is named The Gesture and it represents a giant human-like figure. The sculpture is a double gesture – the gesture of the giant, who holds out a flower, a symbolical gesture, and the gesture that the sculpture represents in itself through its very construction, which are both a gesture of grief, of sadness and of commemoration of the people who died in the blast.
Nadim Karam is a well-known and awarded multidisciplinary artist, painter, sculptor and architect (check out one of our previous articles on his work, here), whose work concentrates on large-scale urban art around the world. All of his creations tell a story, commemorate, celebrate and cherish the specific city’s heart and emotion.
Despite its positive intentions, The Gesture has also caused anger among the Lebanese population. As justice is yet to come for those who died or were injured in the explosion, they see the memorial as a symbol of giving up and moving on, as if it were a thing of the past that you can do nothing about but mourn and surpass through art.
Lebanese filmmaker Rawan Nassif sees the site as “a crime scene that can’t be touched yet”, as it has not yet been investigated and no one has been held accountable for the event.
Besides these critiques, the construction has also been looked at with suspicion by some who believe that Nadim Karam’s initiative might have been supported by the government, although he has denied any sort of political affiliation and has made a point on his social media platform to thank the people that made his project possible in an apolitical way.
Photos courtesy of Reuters.