As part of the exhibition devoted to Lebanon, the Boghossian Foundation and Les Midis de la Poésie invites Lamia Ziadé to discuss her book “My port of Beirut” during a literary evening hosted by Ysaline Parisis. The Lebanese artist and writer will comment on her work, which recounts the explosions that took place on the 4th of August in Beirut, her hometown. Her book brings together her writings and paintings, a selection of which will be presented during the exhibition How will it end?
“They were our Egyptian pyramids. [… ] Their constancy reassured me, their presence comforted me, and I saw in them a pagan sanctuary that watches over the city. With the Silos destroyed, everything became possible, nothing could stop Beirut from sinking into darkness.”
On the 4th of August 2020 at 6.07 pm, a massive explosion blasts Silos, port and center of the Lebanese capital. Back in France, Lamia Ziadé receives a troubling message that reads (“It’s a curse your poor country!”) before seeing unusual activity on her family Whatsapp group and learning about the disaster. Hundreds of deaths, thousands wounded, and hundred thousands left homeless. The overwhelming flow of images and videos on the Internet marks a never-ending collective trauma. The following day, Le Monde approaches her to cover the events. She who was able to create a distinctive voice to describe and convey the war in Lebanon (Bye Bye Babylon), the golden age and the destruction in the Middle East (Ô Nuit Ô mes Yeux) and a century in the Near East (Ma Très Grande Mélancolie Arabe) did not wish to carry the immediate horror. “I started refusing, because I tackle subjects that are at least thirty years old! And then we all felt so bad… But, two days after the explosion, I realised that I couldn’t say no. I who was in Paris, useless, that precisely, I could do it. Not a news story, but a work of which my place, far from Beirut, is part.” In a month, she produces fifteen pages for Le Monde. And it’s her publisher who encourages her to keep writing.
Lebanese artist, Lamia Ziadé has lived in Paris since the age of 18. She is the author of “illustrated stories” which are a very personal dive into the Middle East of yesterday and today: Ô Nuit Ô mes Yeux, P.O.L 2015, Ma Très Grande Mélancolie Arabe, P.O.L 2017, Bye Bye Babylone, P.O.L 2010, Mon port de Beyrouth, P.O.L 2021. Her artwork has been regularly shown since 2003, when she first exhibited at Kamel Mennour.
Journalist and literary critic, Ysaline Parisis notably worked for RTBF and Vif L’Express before becoming head of programming at the Maison internationale des littératures Passa Porta.
Les Midis de la Poésie, known to regulars more simply as Les Midis, was launched in January 1949. Each Tuesday at midday (‘midi’) the programme offers 50 minutes of literary conferences and readings at different venues, including la Bellone – Maison du Spectacle, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and various theatres such as the Théâtre National and the Théâtre des Martyrs. Under the umbrella of Les Midis de la Poésie are also a publishing house, educational projects for young children, outdoor events (cocktails and tea parties) and a poetry fund (available at the Bellone – Maison du spectacle).