The August 4th, 2020 explosion in Lebanon was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history. It ripped through the heart of Beirut and not only broke windows, buildings, businesses and homes, killing over 200 people - it left thousands of families and dreams in pieces. People had to pick up the rubble and piece some sense back into their lives, with no answers or feeling of accountability.
But one thing remained unbroken: people’s indestructible will to get to the bottom of the unbroken truth about what happened.
One year after the world’s 4th largest explosion ripped through Beirut, there are still no answers about who is responsible, despite official promises to identify perpetrators and bring them to justice within 5 days. While the dust has settled, many people’s lives, families, hopes and dreams remain in pieces.
It was time to break the silence.
More than just a campaign slogan, ‘We Are Unbreakable’ is a constant reminder of the Lebanese resilience and of stifling reality; that justice still hasn’t been served.
Swiss artist Simon Berger flew all the way to Lebanon to contribute his time and talent to the initiative by doing what he does best: shattered glass masterpieces.
Uniquely deploying the force of his hammer onto sheets of glass recycled from the explosion, Simon created portraits of the victims to convey the forceful effect of the blast and to utter a loud and clear scream for the truth, for justice.
The portraits he created will “take a stand” on one of the country’s most renowned television shows, ‘Sar el Waaet’, during a special episode aired live from the site of the explosion on August 4th at 8:30 pm Beirut time, in memory of the victims.
The world will be faced with the chilling presence of the victims in front of the port silos, in hopes that this “glass demonstration” will awaken the sleeping conscience of an entire system and contribute to bringing justice to life.
Contemporary glass artist Simon Berger speaks a singular plastic language by exploring the depth of his material, the glass that he pounds, or cracks with a hammer. The window becomes the support of an expansion done by impacts playing with transparency. The closer and briefer the blows, the stronger the contrasts and the shades. In his hands, the hammer is not a tool of destruction, but rather an amplifier of effects.
When Simon heard about the Beirut explosion, he decided to take part in this humanitarian initiative.
In order to get the inspiration he needed for his portraits, he visited the victim’s families, the Beirut port, and sites affected by the blast.
Simon’s project in Lebanon was done in collaboration with Laurent Marthaler Contemporary.