Lost in the right direction is the second exhibition from AD Leb, a cultural space and digital platform dedicated to supporting cultural and artistic production in Lebanon and the surrounding region. 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.
A combination of sculptures, photography, drawings, textiles, and design interventions are installed across Deir El Kalaa – a Roman Byzantine settlement in the village of Beit Meri – creating a dialogue between the contemporary and the ancient arts and crafts. By encouraging organic collaborations between the forty-one participating artists, designers, artisans, and collectives, AD Leb aims to dismantle stereotypes that divide these disciplines and to challenge the convention of exhibiting them separately.
PARTICIPATING ARTISTS, DESIGNERS, ARTISANS AND MAKERS: Elias and Yousef Anastas; Lara Baladi; Bokja Design (Huda Baroudi and Maria Hibri); Bisat Al Rih; Samer Bou Rjeily; Claudia Chahine; Karen Chekerdjian; Coin d’Art; Nohad El Daher; Oliver DeGem; Gilbert Debs; Nada Debs; Gaïa Fodoulian; Nouhad Hannaddaher; Hatem Imam; Rina Jaber; Roger Gemayel Lighting; Khalife Glass (Nisrine Khalife); Mohamad Kanaan; Natasha Karam; Marm Group Stone; Paul Merhy; Elie Morcos; Kamil Mrad; Hussein Nassereddine; Opus Magnum Gallery; Adrian Pepe; Nathaniel Rackowe; Pierre Rajha; Safa Group (Marwan Bou Ghanem); Mahmoud Safadi; Christine Safatly; Roula Salamoun; Ieva Saudargaitė Douaihi; Silāt for Culture; Caroline Tabet; Sibylle Tarazi; Topkapi; and Christian Zahr.
Scenography: Hala Younes
Assistant Scenography: Ali Dhainy
Production Supervisor: Jessica Merjaneh
Exhibition graphics: Studio Safar
3D mapping of the site: XYZ Lebanon
Cultural and Archaeological Mediation: Ṣilāt for Culture
Communications and PR: MIRROS Communications (LB), Eleanor Gibson (UK)
Digital communications: Bassem Saad
Photography/Videography: Vartan Seraydarian
Editor: Eleanor Gibson, Muriel N. Kahwagi
AD Leb has organized Lost in the right direction in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture Directorate General of Antiquities, with the support of Institute français du Liban and the cultural and archaeological mediation of Ṣilāt for Culture.
“If you know the story of AD Leb, you will appreciate how personal this is for me as I strive to continue what my daughter Gaïa started and to keep her memory alive. Imagining AD Leb as a gallery without walls exemplified Gaïa’s spirit of innovation and openness; she dreamed of bringing together artists and designers from Lebanon and around the world, and to showcase and support their work.”
Annie Vartivarian, Director of Art Design Lebanon
The exhibition’s title – Lost in the right direction – is a quote drawn from Gaïa Fodoulian’s Instagram page. An emerging designer herself, Gaïa developed the idea for AD Leb in early 2020 before her untimely death following the Beirut port explosion of 4 August that year. At the end of another turbulent year for Lebanon, this show offers a chance to connect and instigates a vital dialogue around the purpose and hope that can be found in creativity.
“For Lost in the Right Direction, the seventeen exhibited works have been crafted in relation to Deir El Kalaa, and in return, they take possession of its landscape. Their mere presence draws attention and significance back to the site, and their positioning makes the archaeology readable again. They highlight the main amenities of the ancient town: its streets, houses, baths, its church, olive presses, and shops. They underline its structures and make them accessible to a new audience. The artworks, and the various themes they encompass, resonate with the history of the site and the major events witnessed by the territory.”
Hala Younes, Architect and Scenographer of the exibition.
About Deir El Kalaa
AD Lebanon’s exhibition Lost in the right direction takes place in the residential area to the east of the main road leading to the Baal Marcod temple, where the remains of a Byzantine settlement with its streets, boutiques, homes, and a bath have been unearthed during the 1960s. This rural settlement flourished between the 4th and the 6th century AD. Reminiscent of the period are the remains of a Byzantine church with its colourful mosaic floor depicting early Christian symbols and several oil presses testifying to the industrial nature of the site as a representation of the type of economy that this rural settlement relied upon. During the eighteenth century, a Maronite monastery was built at the site over the front part of Baal Marcod temple in addition to a church dedicated to St. John. The monastery and the church are still under the Antonine Maronite order today.
Despite its rich history, knowledge of Deir El Kalaa’s significance has been eroded over the years and there is relatively little information available to the public. By installing an exhibition of contemporary art, design, and craft, hosting artisanal workshops, and offering guided tours at Deir El Kalaa, AD Lebanon seeks to transmit the importance of this heritage site for the people of Lebanon. The exhibition, therefore, celebrates Lebanon’s cultural heritage and strives to reinvigorate a space which was historically designed for community, celebration, and faith.