- Zad Moultaka, exhibition in Helsinki
There are certain artworks that live in symbiosis with the architectural spaces, and ŠamaŠ by Lebanese artist Zad Moultaka is one of these. For the 2nd time after Sursock Museum in Beirut in June 2018, the work is on display at the Levyahalli Hall, following its success in Venice at the 57th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale Arte 2017. The large-scale installation is now on display in the former aircraft factory in Suomenlinna, Finland which was adapted for the exhibition. Although the work is apparently fairly simple in its set-up, it is technically complex and the building structure required careful adaptation for a successful presentation of the artwork.
With his monumental work, Zad Moultaka combines musical invention with visual research in a radical approach where technology stems from the archaic. It is inspired by and draws upon the paradox of the recent history of the Middle East as a zone of conflict set against its ancient history when this part of the world was the cradle of civilisation.
Šamaš centres on a towering, 6-metre tall 1950s Rolls Royce Mk 209 warplane engine, mounted vertically on its end in the space; a wall installation measuring 18 x 7.5 metres made up of black panels has been set up behind it, with an attached mosaic, comprised of 150,000 Lebanese coins and recalling the aerial view of a bombed city. A pre-recorded soundtrack of Moultaka’s composition, Šamaš Itima, a choral work for 32 voices mixed with tonal elements, which he wrote for the installation is played over 68 loudspeakers. The audio, which the chorale of the Antonine University under the direction of Father Toufic Maatouk, presented on the opening night and for two consecutive days, a performance titled ‘ŠamaŠ Itima’ (Dark Sun) and lighting are synchronised electronically and played as an audio-visual loop, with each cycle lasting almost 12 minutes.
The Šamaš project stems from the Hammurabi Code, considered to be the first rule of law, engraved on a tall black basalt stele almost 2000 years before the common era. At the top of this majestic totem - the aircraft engine - is a figure representing Šamaš, god of sun. Just as light disperses shadows, Šamaš exposes evil in full light and puts an end to injustice, hence also becoming the god of justice of the ancient Babylonians.
Šamaš by Zad Moultaka, managed and produced by Nadine Saddi Zaccour, General Manager and Producer at Zad Moultaka Studio, sends a message to people that violence has to stop; it specifically references the civil war in Lebanon and the conflicts in the Middle East. This may all seem to have very little connection with the lakes in Finland, but in fact, it resonates with the history of the Scandinavian country and adds new dimensions to the centennial of the Finnish Civil War in 2018. Which is why the Helsinki International Artist Program (HIAP) decided to showcase Šamaš in Suomenlinna, whose prison camps held approximately 8000 persons in the aftermath of that war. You have until 7 October to visit the exhibition, before it heads off to Norway, the UK, and Australia.
Project: Zad Moultaka
Producer: Nadine Saddi Zaccour
Showing from 13 August to 7 October 2018
Images: Ikka Vuorinnen
More information: http://zadmoultaka.com/