ŠamaŠ for the first time in Lebanon

Zad Moultaka’s epic work on show in Beirut ahead of worldwide tour

Under the patronage and in the presence of First Lady Mrs. Nadia Aoun, art lovers in Lebanon were invited to attend the launch in Beirut of the spectacular opus by the renowned, multi-disciplinary artist and composer Zad Moultaka, titled ŠamaŠ. The work is on display at the Sursock Museum, following its success in Venice at the 57th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale Arte 2017, and before it heads off on worldwide tour including Finland, England, Norway and Australia.

A piece of monumental proportions and scope, ŠamaŠ brings together a powerful synergy of forms, materials and sounds, combining musical creativity with visual research and melding modern technology with relics and the archaic. The resulting exhibit is a large-scale bomber motor, set against a sparkling wall that evokes the Golden Calf, and emits a haunting, twilight chant, composed by Zad Moultaka.

In this powerful installation, Moultaka sets out to conjure up the prophesised Arab apocalypse, which he says “is not unavoidable”, through the use of relic-inspired symbolism, confronting barbarism with his own hands.

‘The ŠamaŠ project has its origin in the Code of Hammurabi, considered the first code of law, engraved on a tall, black basalt stele nearly 2,000 years before our era. At the top of this majestic totem is represented ŠamaŠ, the Sun god. Just as light disperses shadows, ŠamaŠ exposes evil in full light and puts an end to injustice’, explains Zad Moultaka.

He noted that the installation sets out to position itself at the center of questions around what remains sacred “…in the very heart of Man”, through all-encompassing dialog between Ur in Iraq, Beirut in Lebanon and Aleppo in Syria, all locations that have witnessed violence and are brimming with symbolic regional power.

The opening featured a performance titled ‘ŠamaŠ Itima’ (Dark Sun) presented by the chorale of the Antonine University under the direction of Father Toufic Maatouk.

An integral part of the installation, ‘ŠamaŠ Itima’, Zad Moultaka’s original creation for 32 singers, is inspired by ancient languages. It takes its text from the hymn to the Sumerian god of justice, drawing on an Akkadian lexicon of mutilated words, amputated as if after the deflagration of a missile falling right in the middle of the language. Whilst the human, terrestrial voices have trouble advancing in muddy matter that imprisons sounds, a celestial melody hovers overhead, a strange melody arising from the reactor of a bomber dating from the 1950s. In this tragedy befalling the Middle East, ŠamaŠ thus makes violence sing for want of silencing it.

ŠamaŠ has been commissioned for the Pavilion of Lebanon at the 57th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale Arte 2017, and was curated by Emmanuel Daydé.

ŠamaŠ is produced by Nadine Saddi Zaccour

Zad Moultaka is represented in Beirut by Nadine Majdalani Begdache - Galerie Janine Rubeiz