Art on a Green Line

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Johnny Alam

Montreal, Canada

A Palimpsest of Crises (2015)

Digital print. Courtesy of the artist

The Venetian inspired tower of Saint George’s Maronite Cathedral on the right of this image was built in response to the controversial construction of the adjacent Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque which dwarfed this cathedral. This competition¬† to dominate the city’s skyline and the image of the nation is, however, undermined by the underlying archeological ruins of the Roman Empire that attest to the transient nature of power.

Conversely, this landscape represents a viable mode of cultural coexistence that is ungoverned by typical majority-minority relationships. In 1997, Pope John Paul II declared that “Lebanon is more than a country, it’s a message of peace and coexistence between the East and the West.” This message is conveyed by the olive trees planted at the center of this site by three American mothers, in memory of their sons who passed away in the 9/11 attacks on New York.