When I was confused
How did you find me?
Find me behind the seven walls
That I built around me?"
In 'Missing', a solo exhibition by Iraqi artist Salam Omar,
the artist attempts to narrate the thin trajectory of a projectile;
mapping out a territory which is not clear enough to become
a map. An impossible territory grows here out of architectural
sites but this territory is not a cartography; in this political
anatomy, the viewer is confronted with the physical space of
violence which is neither abstract nor impersonal. How to look
at things exactly as they are? How to speak without metaphor?
Omar's work whispers into the viewer with the cold breath of
a nameless death which contains no miracle or redemption; it
is an escape from being, not a destination. A building rose
out of nowhere; not as an architectural structure but as a memory
of the war.
This ghostly presence, once the symbol
of a city camouflaged as united, revealed itself deeply divided:
Years of fighting added architectural layers through which souls
were inspected by the mire of an invisible shooter. Hidden behind
these walls, layer by layer, the lone sniper remained an allegory
for absence: The absent victims that never returned home, the
absent peace that never arrived, the absent fighter without
voice and without face. Each day, he would return to the Barakat
building, behind sand bags and graffiti, and through the small
incisions in the wall, gaze into the whole of Beirut: Tiles
piled in a corner, the memory of a glorious past, and the glory
of ruthless killing. The warning of Nietzsche is crystal clear
here: When you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes back at