portrait of a lake



Portrait of a Lake consists in a suspended piece of map. It shows us the outlines of a lake and its surrounding grounds, now hanging above us. 

As water pours on it, the representation of the lake, dating back from 1938, becomes humid again; the lake is reactivated. As it crosses the

representation of the lake, water becomes water from the lake. Dripping down onto the floor, it slowly draws the outlines of the lake anew; A

self-portrait, drawn by the lake itself.

The portrayed lake is Yammoune – Little Sea (from Ugaritic, "yam"). On its West shore are scattered the ruins of a Roman sanctuary. Dedicated

to Astarte-Venus, goddess of fertility, the sanctuary also held statues of shepherd-gods protecting pastoral life and agriculture. Built next to

Nabaa el-Arbain, the main spring flowing into the lake, the sanctuary had a direct connection with water and purification rituals.

Abundant with water from the spring at snowmelt, Yammoune Lake progressively empties, until the end of summer, forming a fertile depression. 

Culminating above the fertile valley of the Bekaa, which it partly irrigates, its water also irrigates the illegal crops cultivated in the village of


Situated on the Levant geological fault, marking the boundary between the eastern Mediterranean and the Arabian plates, Yammoune Lake is a

“pull-apart”: a void constituted by the slippage of the two tectonic plates. The fault, departing from Jordan, crosses Lebanon’s entire geography,

as well as Israel and Syria, before ending in Turkey; Divided in segments, breaking one by one, at different times, it is responsible for a

significant amount of seismic events in the Middle-East.

Closely following the nature, cycle and history of the lake, the installation is also reminiscent of a sail, a tent or a breast.


Portrait of a Lake, 2017, print on natural fabric (300x400cm), hemp strings, 3L of water produced by a nearby dehumidifier poured every day.

(work presented at Sharjah Biennial 13 Tamawuj, curated by Chirstine Tohme, on view from March 10 to June 12, Sharjah, U.A.E.)


Portrait of a lake ste phanie saade sharjah biennial 13 3

Portrait of a lake ste phanie saade sharjah biennial 13 4

Portrait of a lake ste phanie saade sharjah biennial 13 1

Img 2979