A Lebanese exhibition in the UK is commemorating the Beirut Port Explosion through a unique artistic scope that explores the act of sweeping.
Created by Lebanese multidisciplinary artist Sally Souraya, Sweeping is a multi-media installation that dives into the symbolic and practical implications of sweeping in the context of the Beirut explosion.
Held at the London-based P21 Gallery, it features the stories and tools of people who took it upon themselves to clean up the streets of Beirut in the weeks that followed the devastating August 4 blast.
The exhibition serves as an artistic expression of solidarity with the victims of the Beirut Port Explosion, as well as a commemoration of the tragic incident that ended dozens of lives and devastated many others.
It marks the first year since the explosion shook Beirut and added to the misery of the Lebanese people, who had already been suffering from the effects of an unprecedented economic meltdown and worsening living conditions.
One of its featured videos, titled “Sweeping change,” shares the stories and personal accounts of people who helped sweep the streets of Beirut in the aftermath of the blast, shedding light on their emotions and feelings that range from sadness and grief to anger and solidarity, and exploring the therapeutic aspect of the cleaning process.
Sweeping also features a grieving performance by Souraya that takes the act of sweeping to the streets of London, including outside the Lebanese Embassy, as an act of solidarity with the victims of the deadly incident.
“The performance represents both a personal act of grieving and a political call for the international community to not forget what happened in Beirut,” Souraya told The961.
“Through embodying the symbolic act of sweeping, I was physically and metaphorically bowing in respect and praising those who stopped their lives and spent days and weeks attempting to clear up Beirut and restore normality.”
Souraya, whose experimental artistic approach combines art with anthropology and activism, explained that Sweeping draws on a collective experience of solidarity, grief, and resilience.
“In admiration of people’s efforts to restore a sense of stability and safety through sweeping, the exhibition questions whether there is still a place for hope amid all the destruction.”