Jad El Khoury, Turning War Remnants Into Art
Jad El Khoury
Text by Farah Abdeljawad
It has been 28 years since the end of the Lebanese Civil War, yet Lebanon‘s landscapes and different generations are still suffering and constantly reminded by the remnants the bloody war left for them. These remnants have become part of Lebanon’s usual scenery the people are used to now, the muted truth.
A year prior to the start of the War, the construction of Burj Al Murr, now known as Burj Al Hawa, was initiated. However, due to the construction’s strategic position and tall height, militias utilized the tower as a spot for snipers. Ever since then, the building stood as a haunting reminder and a traumatizing memory of the Civil War.
Lebanese artist and Interior Architect Jad El Khoury was rather intrigued by how the tower stands unfinished, soaring from the city’s skyline, filled with war remnants that remind and provoke Beirut‘s residents with a past marked by the events of 1975 and a present that could be marked with the harsh constant reminders.
El Khoury took on the mission of turning the negatives into positives by making the building seem as if it was dancing in the wind and hence the derivation of the “Burj Al Hawa” name. He installed colorful window curtains, found in any typical Lebanese house, where the wind blowing the shades mirrors a dancing tower bringing it back to life and bringing back joy to the residents. The project took around 6 days to turn the unfinished 34-story skyscraper into an art installation in Beirut.
According to Jad, he was instructed to dismantle the installation 2 days after it was created by the development company Solidere. the company cited “security reasons” and gave Jad 48 hours to comply.
The temporary installation was inspired by Marwan Rechmaoui`s “Monument for the living 2001-8”. And although it was briefly installed, it received a lot of positive media attention and an overwhelming reaction from the public.
However, Burj Al Hawa is not the only artistic product of El Khoury’s attempts to beautify the Civil War’s remnants. Artist Jad El Khoury has also been famous for his doodle art and his “potato nose” characters that roam around Lebanon’s landscapes on buildings that suffered from the sniper holes war has left them with.
Through simple lines and inspirations from all around Lebanon, El Khoury was able to finish his work “war peace” which was an attempt to let those impacted by the war to move on and carry with their lives without being constantly reminded and dragged down by its memories.
Jad commented that his colorful doodles on several of Beirut’s war-scarred buildings don’t aim to erase the memory of what happened but simply bring joy rather than despair.
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