As a Lebanese student who moved to the UK 3 years ago, I have always embraced my culture, fortunately manifesting itself through my artwork. The concepts and understandings I initially wanted to convey are the feel of the typical Lebanese balcony and what a Lebanese person experienced during the Lebanese revolution in 2019. I would like my audience to understand my culture and how as a Lebanese person who lived in Lebanon then moved to the UK, what I experienced in my country is always reflected in my identity. I envision my audience walking through my exhibition, understanding my culture and traditions, and experiencing a typical and traditional Lebanese feel. Within each part of the exhibition, the Lebanese and middle eastern ambiance is omnipresent.
The theme of culture and identity is engraved into this exhibition as each artwork expresses the personality and culture of a Lebanese person. Throughout the artworks, I added a touch of my personal experience, having been born and raised in Lebanon for 15 years.
On October 17th, 2019, the Lebanese revolution against our country’s government began due to the announcement of the financial decisions the Lebanese cabinet took. Having experienced this huge event and been a protester myself, the images of this event influenced me to add this touch to my work.
The exhibition arrangement is tailored to give the audience a vision of how Lebanese streets look. By spray painting the panels and adding handmade barbed wire, in addition to pasted newspapers, the viewer would be able to sense and connect with the conveyed meanings. The spray paintings on the walls translate to “Beirut never dies”, “#revolution of anger”, and “corrupt government”, which were painted by revolutionists in the October 17th protest. By placing the panels against the light, I hope to give my audience a feeling of being somehow trapped by the Lebanese government to freedom. However, the beautiful artworks of my country represent how Lebanon and its unique culture and traditions are what keep our hope as Lebanese people.
Moreover, I displayed a variety of middle eastern scarfs known as “كوفيه ” in Arabic, which are widely known to represent resilience and strength. During the Lebanese revolution, many people were wearing this scarf. Therefore, I chose to include it in my display.
I want the audience to understand what it feels like to live in a beautiful country but under the control of a corrupt government. Nevertheless, I would also like them to feel the hope that Lebanese people have been holding on to even after everything they went through.
The exhibition also shows a typical Lebanese coffee table. Usually, a typical Lebanese adult would wake up to a cup of coffee and a cigarette on the balcony window, plants surrounding the table, and a radio playing old music, usually “Fairuz”, a famous old Lebanese singer. The coffee table displayed in a free space allows the viewer to walk around it and engage with the Lebanese experience. To give the audience to fully develop a relationship with my exhibition theme, I played some Fairuz songs from the displayed radio.
Even as a person who is now living in the UK, I still feel the same way I did for Lebanon when I was living there. Someday, I would like to go back to live there with my hope and optimism that us as Lebanese people, would be able to rebuild what our government ruined and bring back our beautiful old Lebanon and watch it flourish.