A statue now looms over the port in Beirut, 11 weeks after the Lebanese capital was devastated by a blast at the site that killed at least 190 people on August 4.
Dubbed Bride of the Revolution, the glass and metal statue is made out of the debris from the explosion. With jagged glass legs, a dress made out of sheet metal and hair made of sinewy steel wires, the statue – which has also been called Lady Liberty – holds up a torch in the same fashion as her namesake in New York City.
The statue, which was made by a group of Lebanese activists, also stands on a platform of glass spikes and bears a clock stopped at 6.08pm, the exact time of the explosion.
The monument was unveiled on Saturday, October 17, coinciding with the anniversary of the October Revolution, a series of civil protests that led to the resignation of Saad Hariri’s government.
Lebanese superstar Elissa shared a picture of the statue on her Twitter account, writing, "Our very own Lebanese Lady of Freedom, made of shattered glass from the devastating explosion in Beirut Port, she is smaller than the one who welcomed the world in New York Harbour, but this is only appropriate, she has a lot to do.”
This isn’t the first time that a statue has been erected as a symbol of the power and resilience of the Lebanese people. In November, a giant phoenix was put up in Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square, right next to the renowned bronze statue built in honour of Lebanese nationalists executed by the Ottomans in 1916.
In an interview with The National, Hayat Nazer, the artist behind the sculpture, said the phoenix was meant to show that "we [the Lebanese people] will not burn, we will not break, we will be victorious" as a symbol of something born again from the ashes of its predecessor.
Another statue that was erected around the same time was Revolution is a Woman, which features a figure of a woman waving a Lebanese flag made out of rubbish collected from the protest sites in the area, including water bottles, cans and even the plastic tips used to smoke shisha.
Pierre Abboud – the Dubai artist behind the work – told The National that he flew back to his native country to build the statue after being inspired by the strength of the Lebanese women who took part in the protests in October 2019. The recycled materials, he said, were a nod to a few of the central themes of the protests, namely recycling and the environment.
The activists behind the Bride of the Revolution have yet to come forward to delineate its symbolism. But maybe they don’t need to. Its message is apparent. Made out of the glass and debris left behind by the disastrous port explosion, the statue could be seen as an emblem of the hardiness of the Lebanese people and their ability to emerge from tragedy stronger and more resilient.