Every year in February, the Abraham River dyes itself red. According to mythology, it’s the blood of Adonis, killed on its banks, that gives the stream its color. One day in 1984, Anwar Abou Rich was walking home in Cornishe El Mazraa when she noticed blood streaming from her house’s balcony. Inside, moments earlier, a stray bullet had struck her mother in the head. “This was during the Lebanese Civil War, before I was born, but my mother’s trauma, witnessing her own mother’s death, has shaped our whole family.” These two streams carved out the landscape of Kanaan’s childhood. One is a treasured part of Lebanese oral tradition. The other belongs to a narrative that history sought to erase for the sake of nation building.
Red flowers evoke blood and martyrdom for many Lebanese people; they grow near the Abraham River and figure into many different myths, histories, and fictions. The installation’s soundtrack consists of silences edited from conversations with friends about the war’s ongoing legacy. The chair grounds the exhibit; it invites visitors to sit and its mirror reflects the landscape. If visitors sit with the mirrored back facing outward, they participate in the sculpture, but the mirror remains out of view as it faces the landscape. If viewers stay on the periphery, they observe the exhibit and see themselves in the chair’s mirror. If they sit with the mirror against their back, they also interact with the sculpture but obscure its reflection.