Veni, Vidi, Vici, 2013
Inspired by the Nahr-el-Kalb site situated north of Beirut, Veni, Vidi, Vici includes one thousand perfect marble cubes, randomly stacked in a monticule that refers to the mountain-shaped cliff directly overlooking that particular point on the coast of Lebanon.
The site represents a historical strategic passageway, that allowed conquerors to access the region’s inner-lands: arriving by sea and mooring in the adjacent creek, they could follow with their armies a narrow footpath, that ran parallel to the river flowing into the sea at that point. An easy spot to guard and fortify, it has witnessed several battles, and the passage of many expeditions over the centuries: it does not only control the routes between East and West, but also the North-South coastal axis.
Twenty-six of the one thousand marble cubes presented in the work are engraved with the names of conquerors who have left carvings within the rocks above Nahr el Kalb river: from Pharaoh Ramses II who marched through Lebanon some 3,000 years ago, to the twentieth centuries stelae commemorating events such as the victories of British troops in Damascus in 1919 and 1930 or the one marking the evacuation of foreign armies from Lebanon on December 31, 1946: Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, Assyrian king Esarhaddon, the Roman’s third Gallic Legion under Emperor Caracalla, Byzantine Governor Proclus, Napoleon II’s French expedition corps, Mameluke Sultan Barqouq, Ottoman Mutassarif Wassa Pasha, and French General Gouraud are all among the leaders who left their mark.
The cubic shaped grey stones composing the sculpture look like pavement stones, and directly refer to the paths walked by invaders; but also, to the routes connecting the lands beyond the Arabian deserts to the Mediterranean Sea.
Keeping a record of times, dumped in bulk, the marble cubes safekeep the engravings that are slowly disappearing from the rocks over Nahr el Kalb, eroded by the sea wind and exposed to the elements of Nature. The work also brings forward questions of multiple identities, remainders of cultural inheritance received from generations of invaders who came through over the centuries.