Sound is at the core of the work; as 32 voices sing Moultaka’s new composition Hymn to ŠamaŠ, distorted recordings of engines envelope the space. A contemporary reimagining of the Code of Hammurabi, which was engraved on a tall, black basalt stele nearly 2,000 years ago, takes the form of a near perfect example of a 1960’s British made fighter jet engine, standing upended before a wall of aged coins fused to panelling. The space is in near darkness, aside from selective golden spotlights, suggesting tribal fire-lit caves and traditions of sun worship.
ŠamaŠ was created by Zad Moultaka in 2017. Commissioned by the Lebanese Ministry of Culture for the Lebanese Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition. Curated by Emmanual Daydé.
Zad Moultaka, born in Lebanon in 1967, is an artist and composer based in Paris, France. Moultaka exhibited at the 2015 Venice Biennale, produced an audio-visual installation for the 15th edition of Nuit Blanche in partnership with IRCAM in 2016, a new installation for Paris’s Arab World Institute in 2017, and, in the same year, represented Lebanon at its third Venice Biennale presentation.
Background image: Installation view, Zad Moultaka, ŠamaŠ, Lebanon Pavilion, 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, 2017 © Association Sacrum. Photo: Marzio Emilio Villa