Lebanese Artist Turns Beirut-Blast Debris Into A Statue Of Hope & Strength


Standing at 3-meter tall, the statue raises an arm in a statement of power, the wind dashing the glassy hair away from the feminine scarred face. The hands of a broken clock visible at the bottom signals 6:08, the exact hour and minute in which the blast ripped through Beirut Port on the evening of August 4th.

Hayat Nazer pictured in front of her statue

The unnamed statue by Lebanese artist Hayat Nazer is made of broken pieces of glass and twisted materials that belonged to people’s homes before the explosion that killed more than 200 people and injured over 7,000.

“If you look at the statue, one half has a leg standing. The hand looks surrendered. There is a scar on the face with the flying hair and the clock on this side, as if the explosion is still happening,” the 33-year-old artist told Reuters Television.

“But the other hand and the other leg are leaning as if it is starting to walk and the hand is raised. It wants to continue. It wants to keep going and rise from the rubble, and this is the truth. This is our truth.”

Beirut’s port explosion wiped out half of the capital, leaving around 300,000 residents homeless, as well as exacerbating the already-crippling economy.

Nazer had already started working on a female sculpture before the blast. After the explosion, she volunteered to help clean up destroyed houses and streets during the day. At night, she would return to the sculpture, using the shards of glass and pieces of metal she would have collected.

Nazer paints during an interview with Reuters in Beirut, November 10, 2020. (Reuters/Mohamed Azakir)

“I felt like Beirut was a woman who despite what she suffered is very strong,” Nazer said.

Inspired by “Beirut, Lady of the World,” sung by Lebanese vocalist Majida El Roumi, especially the lyrics “rise from under the rubble,” Nazer says the statue took her a little more than two months to complete.

Nazer says she believes in Lebanese resilience. Those affected by the blast who saw the 2.6-meter statue temporarily displayed in front of the damaged port drew strength and hope to carry on.

She did not name the artwork, giving the public the freedom to do so.

This is not the first time Nazer has used debris in her art. Her previous works include a model of the mythological Phoenix made out of pieces of protesters’ burnt tents, and a heart-shaped sculpture from stones and empty teargas canisters, collected from clashes between protesters and security forces.

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