“Aucun homme n’a reçu de la nature le droit de commander aux autres. La liberté est un présent du ciel, et chaque individu de la même espèce a le droit d’en jouir aussitot qu’il jouit de la raison.”
—Autorité Politique, Encylopédie de Diderot & d’Alembert
“No man has received from nature the right to command others. Liberty is a gift from heaven, and each individual of the same species has the right to enjoy it as soon as he enjoys the use of reason.”
—Political Authority, The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d’Alembert
ACT Lecturer Lara Baladi’s I AM WITH HER is the first in a series of twenty-eight tapestries, called “The River of Life,” an ambitious project whose title, borrowed from the “Book of Revelations,” is inspired by the renowned medieval Tapisserie de l’Apocalypse (Apocalypse Tapestry).
Born from a collaboration between Lara Baladi and Bokja Design, a Lebanon-based design company, the first tapestry of the series focuses on the word ‘nature’ and was conceived for “Lost in the Right Direction,” an exhibition curated by Art Design Lebanon in the midst of the Deir el-Qalaa ruins (The Monastery of The Fortress). “Lost in the Right Direction” is on view until the end of January 2022.
Each tapestry in “The River of Life” is Bokja’s interpretation–via embroidered textiles– of Baladi’s assemblages of images and texts. Once completed, the series will unfold over more than seventy meters to reveal twenty-eight words, one for each letter of the Arabic alphabet.
As we near what scientists and conservationists call the ‘Sixth Mass Extinction,’ questions surrounding the human impact on earth arise, prompting us to reevaluate our relationship with the environment.
Gazing into a future of hope, the artwork draws on the iconography of past and present protests and revolutions and the representation of history. A reflection on the Anthropocene epoch we live in, “The River of Life” is a commentary on our present-day condition, which proposes a renewed and more integrated relationship with her, our mother Earth.
“Lost in the Right Direction” is the second outdoor exhibition from Art Design Lebanon (AD Leb), a cultural space and digital platform dedicated to supporting cultural and artistic production in Lebanon and the surrounding region. In collaboration with the Ministry of Culture Directorate General of Antiquities, contemporary works by established and emerging artists, designers, and artisans are displayed at an archaeological site in the mountains east of Beirut in a rare, public outdoor exhibition.