I recently stumbled upon a familiar sight at a Middle Eastern art exhibit in Chelsea, New York. It was a view anyone living in Lebanon during the 2006 war may have seen.
The piece by Ali Cherri was projected on the wall at the center of the gallery:
The viewer watches a slide show, revealing military ships appearing on the horizon.
The rhythm of the slides bring back the mix of monotony and fear we felt during those days. The ships–most of them from the US Navy- were evacuating American and European nationals during a brief truce.
Watching it was a bit agonizing for those who would not go. All day long ships would disappear and reappear. Tens of thousands of people had been evacuated by the time it was over after about a week. And everyday we wondered anxiously what was in store for us when it ended and the bombing resumed.
The piece was also accompanied by an audio recording of a message by the Israeli military, which had infiltrated the Lebanese radio waves and played the following message.
I too photographed and video taped the ships at the time but the footage seemed so mundane I never really used it.
Looking at the price tag suggested for these few slides, I really wish I had!
You can bid on this piece and watch Ali’s full slideshow and audio here. And you can view all the Middle Eastern works in the auction which will benefit the New York-based Alwan for the Arts, a non-profit which regularly brings Arab and regionally-focused film screenings, lectures, book readings and other great events to the city.