1:39 PM PDT, August 3, 2021
Last year, the city of Beirut was rocked by a massive explosion. The blast, centered in the Lebanese city’s port, shattered windows and tore through buildings.
Over 200 people lost their lives.
As the first anniversary of the Beirut explosion approached, city leaders gathered at a memorial ceremony. They unveiled a sculpture fashioned from steel gnarled by the blast.
“This ‘Gesture,’ which is a gesture for Beirut, is mainly to say we are here because he is here, and he reflects Beirut. He reflects Beirut in its sadness, in its anger, because it is made of scars, you know. It’s made of the traces of the explosion,” Nadim Karam, the creator of The Gesture, explains.
The Lebanese architect adds that for many, wounds of the explosion are still fresh.
“So you have a giant made out of ashes, you have a giant made out of the scars of the city, made out of the scars of people whose wounds did not yet close. All these people, all the parents and those families of the martyrs and the victims have their wounds still open.”
Although The Gesture is a way to memorialize the explosion, it has angered some. Lebanese filmmaker Rawane Nassif says he is frustrated that no one has been held accountable for the disaster.
“The killers have complete impunity of their crime, and we are already pretending something is passed, and we are trying to transcend it through art. I am against that.”
He added that The Gesture is a premature attempt to seal off the past.
“I feel this is a crime scene, and a crime scene cannot be touched yet, it has to be investigated, you don’t come and make an event and money of a crime scene, still on the bodies of the people that died there.”
The Beirut explosion occurred on August 4, 2020.