Lebanese architect and artist Nayla Romanos Iliya revealed a new permanent public art installation titled “ON THE OTHER SIDE OF TIME”, on Wednesday the 20th of October. The site-specific installation is set in the public square adjacent to Saint Elias Church, Minet El Hosn, Beirut.
Inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy (Divina Commedia) and while this year marks the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death, Italian poet, writer, and philosopher – recognised and celebrated internationally, the unveiling took place in partnership with the Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Beirut and in the presence of H.E. Nicoletta Bombardiere, Ambassador of Italy to Lebanon.
The installation echoes the medieval poem’s structure and theme, narrating Dante’s travels through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise; the epic is an allegory of man’s journey through life towards salvation, celebrating universalism and goodness as ideals while emphasising the consequences of sin and the glories of Heaven. The art installation, set over 50m2 of space, features all three parts of the poem, namely “Inferno” (Hell), “Purgatorio” (Purgatory) and “Paradiso” (Paradise).
The deep-rooted symbolism of the theme is acutely pertinent in Lebanon, where decades of corruption and negligence coupled with impunity have tested both individual and social consciousness to their limits. In a non-artistic context, the irony surfaces as “hell” has been the word that describes the current situation of the Lebanese people, but the twist here is that this particular hell was imposed on the people rather than them deserving it. The comedy has turned into a tragedy, and while “Paradise” seems a long way ahead, the art aims at instilling some belief that there exists, still, a ray of hope.
Visible from afar, the installation offers various perspectives, whether approached by car, on foot or explored from within. The viewer’s relationship with the work is multi-layered.
All info is extracted from the press release.