Stéphanie Saadé





2011, 2 x (250 x 120 cm), mixed media : plaster, cinder block, laser-jet photographs (150 x 100 cm each)

This work presents photographs of objects from ‘Vitrine 70’ in the National Museum, Beirut. This vitrine contains a few of the numerous archaeological objects in the museum’s collection that were damaged during the war when they were stored in the administration building. Adjoining the museum, the administration building was hit by an incendiary bullet, and due to the acuteness of the situation, it was impossible for to reach the museum in order to take the necessary measures to stop the fire. As a result, the building burned over three consecutive days, and so did the objects that were stored inside, wrapped in fabric. The objects reached such high temperatures that the materials melted; not only the bronze and the glass, but also marble and ivory, which is rare.
These objects were chosen by the conservators because they spoke the most. I have chosen them because, in their new context, they are absolutely silent, mute. Their shapes, sometimes close to charcoal or quartz formations, or even foam in the case of white marble, are incomprehensible and do not allude to any form. Some of them are amalgams of many objects that are no longer identifiable with any certitude, even by conservators, whereas others have acquired new meanings. I think about this bronze ex-voto, a small statuette representing a man, to which the fire has welded an animal, maybe a cow and her young, creating a complicated piece of poetry. The objects have become enigmatic, and intrinsically mirror the inner state of the country and its inhabitants. The tables on which the photographs are presented fluctuate between the museum’s sacralizing plinth and the altar, possibly erected on ruins, or in the middle of a construction site, both common landscapes in Lebanon.