The massive explosions at the Beirut port that happened on August 4 and killed over 70 people and injured over 4,000, has left the city completely devastated as countless buildings, including major art galleries in the region such as Marfa Gallery, which was located close to Beirut’s Port, and Galerie Tanit, Donating, are nothing but ruins. works for emergency funds and transforming art spaces into shelters.
A week after the explosions, the country’s prime minister, Hassan Diab, announced the resignation of the government after over a third of ministers left their posts, as per The Guardian. Several leading artists and nonprofits have gathered and joined forces to help the nation in the form of sales and emergency funds, and Twitch live streams.
Beirut-born artist Mohamad Kanaan recently launched the Instagram page, Art Relief for Beirut, featuring works on sale by Lebanese and international artists. Contributing artists include Emily Jacir, Diana Halabi, Younès Rahmoun, Rafael Domenech, alongside all of the winners of the 2019 Turner Prize: Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo, and Tai Shani. So far, the project has raised $84,000 in the sale of 32 artworks and 200 prints, as per Hyperallergic which will benefit the Lebanese Red Cross and disaster relief organization, Impact Lebanon.
“People are still missing; The dead are being buried; The wounded tended to; Psyches are scarred; Debris is piling up; Shortages abound; And top of our mourning, tears, and fears, we feel anger, defiance, resignation, horror, and disgust wrapped into a single continuous consuming emotion,” said Lebanese artist Walid Raad who created a Brussels-based arts nonprofit called Mophradat. The nonprofit has launched an emergency fund to help artists and the cultural sector in Beirut. Those interested can make donations via direct bank transfer or PayPal.
Another group helping raise money for relief efforts is the Artist Fundraiser for Beirut. The group is currently streaming films and live performances via Twitch through August 13. The ongoing live stream includes contributions by artists Sulaïman Majali, Reman Sadani, Dala Nasser, and Firas Shehadeh to name a few. A nonprofit that supports LGBTQ+ artists in Lebanon, Haven for Artists, has also transformed its space to create shelter for single mothers, immigrant workers, and other people who have lost their homes due to the explosion.