Reviewed by Neil Leadbeater
Beirut: The Strong Lady Lives
The explosion of a stockpile of 2,750 tons of highly volatile ammonium nitrate off-loaded into a warehouse in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, provided the catalyst for The Beirut Call, born from unimaginable tragedy. The explosion, perhaps the most powerful non-nuclear blast in history, ripped apart a city: It killed more than 200 people, injured more than 7,000, and displaced almost 300,000.
The Beirut Call represents a cooperative effort by publishers, journalists, translators, poets, musicians, choreographers, photographers, singer-songwriters, activists, and visual artists, all of whom share a love for Beirut and a belief that art can bring about change, agreeing with Mitri Raheb that
art is one of the most important elements for people’s survival … art allows the soul not only to survive but to thrive.
This may sound grandiose, but art can draw together people of divergent views to process collective grief as artists raise awareness about socioeconomic, political, and environmental concerns and develop a vision for the future.
Black and white illustrations and photographs showing scenes from the revolution of October 17, 2019, and the devastation caused by the explosion on August 4, together with sketches on paper and digital art, accompany the text. Footnotes provide references and web links to more detailed information.