Art lovers in Finland were invited to attend the launch in Suomenlinna of the spectacular opus by the renowned, multi-disciplinary artist and composer Zad Moultaka, titled S?amaS?.
The opening was attended by Paula Lehtomäki, representing the Prime Minister of Finland; the ambassador of Lebanon in Stockholm, H.E Hasan Saleh; the Honorary Consul of Finland in Lebanon Zafer Chaoui, a major supporter of the exhibition; the former ambassador of Finland in Lebanon, H.E Matti Lassila; and the director of HIAP (Helsinki International Artist Program) Juha Huuskonen.
Produced by Nadine Saddi Zaccour, 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. It will head off on a worldwide tour to Estonia, Singapore, England, Norway and Australia.
The concept behind the work presents a major work of contemporary art that can share an aesthetic synergy with the architecture and the peaceful atmosphere of the island and reflects as well, the relationship with the 2018 centenary year of the Finnish civil war.
A piece of monumental proportions and scope, S?amaS? brings together a powerful synergy of forms, materials and sounds, combining musical creativity with visual research and melding modern technology with relics and the archaic.
The resulting exhibit is a large-scale bomber motor, set against a sparkling wall that evokes the Golden Calf, and emits a haunting, twilight chant, composed by Zad Moultaka.
‘4,000 years ago, the code of Hammurabi testified to the thirst of men and their quest for justice. What remains today of this morality, source of all our civilizations? This artwork questions our violence and launches common prayers to stop the current and future brutality that lurks in our world since the beginning of time.’ Zad Moultaka
‘The blood of the country accumulates like bronze and lead /
Its dead melt like fat in the sun / Its men are cut down by the ax, no helmet protects them / Like a gazelle caught in a trap, they lie down, their mouth in the dust… / Mothers and fathers who do not leave their house are covered by fire / Children lying in their mother’s lap, are swept away by the waters like fish…May this disaster be wiped out entirely! Like the great shutter of night, the gate be closed on it!’ Lamentation for the ruin of Ur (2000 BC).
Voice from the engine.
S?amaS? is the latest work of the Lebanese composer and artist Zad Moultaka to represent Lebanon at the 2017 Venice Biennale at which it received more than 54,000 visitors. Inspired by and draws upon the paradox of the recent history of the East and West as a zone of conflict set against its ancient history as the source of so much of what we regard as civilization. The S?amaS? project has its origin in the Code of Hammurabi, considered the first code of law, engraved on a tall, black basalt stele nearly 2,000 years before our era. It comprises a wall made up of black panels to which a mosaic is attached, formed from 150,000 Lebanese coins, recalling an aerial
view of a bombed city; a 6-meter-high Rolls Royce Mk 209 military jet engine from the 1950s, mounted vertically on end in the space; 44 loudspeakers, over which a composition by Moultaka is played. The composition, S?amaS? Itima, is a choral work for 32 voices mixed with electroacoustic elements.
Bringing this significant contemporary artwork to Suomenlinna will add new dimensions to the centennial of the Finnish Civil War in year 2018.
In the aftermath of the war, approximately 8,000 persons were held in the prison camps of Suomenlinna.
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 ‘S?amaS? Itima’ (Dark Sun).
An integral part of the installation, ‘S?amaS? Itima’, Zad Moultaka’s original creation for 32 singers, is inspired by ancient languages. It takes its text from the hymn to the Sumerian god of justice, drawing on an Akkadian lexicon of mutilated words, amputated as if after the deflagration of a missile falling right in the middle of the language. Whilst the human, terrestrial voices have trouble advancing in muddy matter that imprisons sounds, a celestial melody hovers overhead, a strange melody arising from the reactor of a bomber dating from the 1950s.
The exhibition runs until October 7, 2018.
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00 am till 7:00 pm.
Partners & Sponsors
Partners: HIAP – Governing Body – The Honorory Consul of Finland in Lebanon and Mrs. Zafer Chaoui
Sponsors: Saastamoisen Foundation – City of Helsinki – Chorus of the Antonine University under the direction of Toufic Maatouk – IRCAM – Mr. and Mrs. Berndt Brunow – Fondation Fouad et Toufic Fadel