Through economical gestures, Stéphanie Saadé examines magnitudes of force and measures of distance and time often unaccounted for by conventional standpoints. Her work often introduces shifts in perspective that reorient approaches to familiar places, processes and situations.
Closely following cycles of nature and history, Portrait of a Lake (2017) consists of a suspended section of a map with Yammoune Lake at its centre. Marking the boundary between the Eastern Mediterranean and the Arabian plate, the body of water is the product of recurring slippages along the main geologic fault of the region. In this vein, the lake is a ‘pull-apart’—created by seismic activity that starts in Jordan and crosses the entirety of Lebanon and Occupied Palestine and Syria before ending in Turkey. On its western shore, next to the Nabaa el-Arbain spring that feeds the lake, are the scattered ruins of a Roman sanctuary used for water purification rituals and statues of shepherd-gods known to protect pastoral life and agriculture. Every spring, Yammoune is filled by the season’s snowmelt. In the following months, the water level naturally declines so that by summer’s end, only a fertile depression remains. In the exhibition space, the map is suspended from the ceiling, outlining the lake and its environs. As water is poured, the lake returns to life, and then the water slowly drips from the lake onto the floor; as it gathers, it draws the outlines of the lake anew.
This project was part of Sharjah Biennial 13.
Portrait of a Lake
Reproduced by Sharjah Art Foundation
Courtesy of Grey Noise, Dubai; Marfa’, Beirut; Akinci, Amsterdam; Galerie Anne Barrault, Paris and the artist