Sacred Catastrophe: Healing Lebanon Art Exhibition at Beit Beirut by Zena El Khalil

For 40 days, Zena el Khalil’s personal exhibition, which will be accompanied by a series of events including workshops, panels, poetry readings, performances and others, will animate Beit Beirut, a symbol of the troubled history of Lebanon’s war. The building is located on the former “green line”, on what was a “no-man's land” that during the Lebanese civil war served as a demarcation line dividing the city into two.
Head of Beirut’s Municipality Mr. Itani praised this 40-day cultural event taking place in Beirut and said, "Beit Beirut is now open to the public through Zena El Khalil’s exhibition, which, through its varied works of art, presents a message of peace, love and tolerance in Beirut. This city has suffered the blight of war and deserves to finally live in real peace to celebrate art and culture.
Commenting on Healing Lebanon and Zena el Khalil’s work, Torino-based President and Director of Fondazione Merz Beatrice Merz and curator of the exhibition said:
“The Fondazione Merz believes strongly in this initiative that fits in with our own working methods which have for some time focused on projects that have dialogue, a capacity for human acceptance and comparison as their guiding principles. I was struck by the delicacy with which Zena el Khalil tackles highly topical themes that take form in works of a great expressive maturity.
Zena is highly accomplished internationally, having made significant cultural contributions to her country in terms of her writing, her blogging (2006 war), her TED talks and art exhibitions and this exhibition will contribute further to her growth in the international art world.”

Beirut-based curator and art collector Janine Maamari, Founder and President of Liban Art NGO, had her own take on the exhibition. She said, “Zena el Khalil is a talented multimedia visual artist, writer, and activist, who is deeply engaged with the memory of the Lebanese wars and their aftermath, on the physical, social, and personal levels. Since early on in her career, she proposed artistic interventions as a possible way to heal these wounds. Her present project, Sacred Catastrophe: Healing Lebanon, which joins visual works and performance, was created to revive a neglected, ruined, space, in an endeavour
to transform Beirut into a city of light and peace. It reflects the recent and significant evolution in El Khalil’s approach.”
Sharing her thoughts on Beit Beirut and her 40-day exhibition, Artist Zena el Khalil said, “This will be the first major exhibition to take place at Beit Beirut originally built by Youssef Aftimus in 1924. During the war this grand building, located on what was “the Green Line” or the former demarcation line that split the city of Beirut during the civil war, became home to militias and snipers. My aim with this exhibition is to transform Beirut into a “city of light”, using Beit Beirut, a relic of our war(s), to share my belief that art and culture can have a positive impact on society, and that this exhibition aims to transform this former killing machine into a platform for healing, peace and reconciliation.”
“Sacred Catastrophe: Healing Lebanon", Zena el Khalil’s exhibition and multi-disciplinary intervention, will be open to the public at Beit Beirut for 40 days straight, including Sundays, starting the 18th of September at 6 PM.

The project is also under the patronage of The Italian Cultural Institute in Beirut.

 

Presentation of the artist, by Janine Maamari

Zena el Khalil, a talented multimedia visual artist, writer, and activist, is deeply engaged with the memory of the Lebanese wars and their aftermath, on the physical, social, and personal levels. Since early on in her career, she proposed artistic interventions as a possible way to heal these wounds. Her present project, Sacred Catastrophe: Healing Lebanon, which joins visual works and performance, was created to revive a neglected, ruined, space, in an endeavour to transform Beirut into a city of light and peace. It reflects the recent and significant evolution in El Khalil’s approach.
El Khalil had previously become known for her installations and mixed media works reminiscent of pop art, which brought up Beirut’s everyday life and consumer culture. In spite of their apparent superficiality and playfulness, these works full of humour carried consequent social criticism and a search for peace and spirituality. Her 2008 memoir, Beirut I Love You, further expressed this care, love and compassion.
Sacred Catastrophe carries on El Khalil’s concerns. Conceptually, it builds on From Mirfaq to Vega (2014), exhibited in Torino’s Gallery Giorgio Persano and curated by Beatrice Merz. The installation was conceived to give life to her destroyed family homes, to explore their stories and traumas, and experience their void. Today, she continues building a space grid of positive energy throughout Lebanon, striving to transform spaces emptied out of their humanity into agents of peace. Beit Beirut could be the place where this process begins.
One fundamental question comes to mind: what happens when one loses all points of reference, physical and otherwise? To find answers and make Beit Beirut live again, El Khalil adopts a holistic approach, bringing into play Eastern meditation practices, painting on canvas and on paper, sculpture, video, photography, sound, light, and dance. For 40 days, she inhabits the space, meditating and painting, and invites the audience to participate. She burns veils, makes a pigment from their ashes, and uses it for abstract works; simultaneously, she writes mantras in Arabic calling for mawada, rahme, and gufran. The words encapsulate El Khalil’s message: it is by inducing “love, compassion, and forgiveness,” she suggests, that the place – and Lebanon – may truly live again.

 

This exhibition is free and open to all ages. Hope to see you there, where we can engage as a community to be the change we wish to see in Lebanon.

 

THE WORKSHOPS AND EVENTS PROGRAM:

- Daily - All Day: Mantra Color Meditation

- Daily 5 - 6 pm: Zena El-Khalil: Community Peace Offering

- 25 September: 6 - 7:30 pm: Ginou Choueiri: Sound Meditation Journey

- 26 September: 6 - 7:30 pm: Mona El-Hallak: From the Barakat building to Beit Beirut

- 28 September: 6 - 7:30 pm: Lena Merhej and Taghrid Abdelal: Mindful Drawing

- 3 October: 6 - 7:30 pm: Mona El-Hallak: From the Barakat building to Beit Beirut

- 7 October: 11 am - 1 pm: Paperplanes, Imagining Peace: Children Craft Making Workshop

- 7 October: 6 - 8 pm: PEN Lebanon: Reading for Peace

- 10 October: 6 - 7:30 pm: Mona El-Hallak: From the Barakat building to Beit Beirut

- 11 October: 6 - 8 pm: Storytelling Night: Healing the City - Dima Matta

- 12 October: 6 - 7:30 pm: Nawal Fleihan: Introduction to Reiki and Meditation

- 14 October: 10 - 11:30 am: Danielle Abi Saab: The healing art of Yoga

- 14 October: 6 - 7:30 pm:Alexandra Asseily: The power of Language, small shifts in Language, big shifts in behavior

- 17 - 19 October: Workshop given by the Fondazione Merz Educational Department with refugees

- 17 October: 6 pm: The Crossing: Film screening by George Kurian followed by Q&A

- 18 October: 6 -6:30 pm: Rania Jaber: In conversation with Zena El-Khalil

- 18 October: 6:30 pm - 8 pm: Art and Activism: A conversation with Paola Caridi, curated by Fondazione Merz

- 19 October: 6:30 - 8 pm: Beirut - Palermo - Torino, 3 cases of Architectural development.
A conversation between Mona El Hallak, Pietro Airoldi and Guido Montanari, moderated by Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, curated by Fondazione Merz.

- 20 October: 6 - 8 pm: Mari Meen Halsoy, Healing Waeving: Artist Talk and Workshop

- 21 October: 10 - 11:30 am: Nawal Fleihan: Reiki Group Healing

- 21 October: 12 - 4 pm: Mari Meen Halsoy, Healing Waeving: Artist Talk and Workshop

- 21 October: 4 - 6 pm: Panel curated by Janine Maamari:
Is Art about Resilience? A conversation with Mari Meen Halsoy (Artist), Rania Jaber (Anthropologist), Ginane Makki Basho (Artist) and Carla Yaret (Psychoanalyst), moderated by Marie Tomb (Art Historian).

- 21 October: 6 - 8 pm: Hind Shoufani & Rewa Zeinati: Loud words. An evening of Sukoon with the Poeticians.

- 22 October: 12 - 4 pm: Mari Meen Halsoy, Healing Waeving: Artist Talk and Workshop

- 24 October: 6 - 7:30 pm: Mona El-Hallak: From the Barakat building to Beit Beirut

- 24 October: 6 - 7:30 pm: Nawal Fleihan & Zena El Khalil: Group Meditation & Sound Bath

Free Entrance
Read more on http://www.lebtivity.com/event/sacred-catastrophe-healing-lebanon-art-exhibition-at-beit-beirut-by-zena-el-khalil

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