Many tend to reminisce its mountains, nature, and mouth-watering food when thinking and talking about Lebanon. To be quite frank, it is pretty much a rarity for any Lebanese to rave about the almost gut-wrenching traffic that hugs the country, from the north all the way to the deep south. Everyone has experienced the unsettling feeling of getting into your car and onto the highway. Knowing that what would typically be a twenty-minute car ride will most likely be an hour and a half. How does one keep their sanity intact?
Courtesy Falak Shawwa
Although some might consider driving along to Virgin Radio's top 40 charts as a sort of " meditative therapy" for their traffic blues, here's another suggestion: Look outside. You'll be taken by surprise. As old heritage sites tower over you, while the symphony of noise pollution conducted by Lebanese traffic goes into overdrive. There is one thing you cannot miss: our trucks of hope.
Artist Ali Younis has hand-painted hundreds of trucks with designs such as calligraphy. Courtesy Falak Shawwa
This week's highlighted artist, Sasha Haddad, takes us into the world of cargo trucks with her piece "Truck Art." You know, the kind of trucks that are so vibrantly decorated in splashes of blue, green, and red. Adorned with twists and twirls that would make any drivers dull car ride change gear. Covering cargo trucks with symbols and calligraphy has been a long-standing tradition among truckers in Lebanon since the '80s. In fact, this tradition is practiced across regional borders, from Egypt to Pakistan.
Haddad's fascination with truck art is not uncommon. Arab talent like Houda Kassatly and Falak Shawwa, took it upon themselves to wander the streets of Lebanon, capturing stories one truck at a time. Kassatly's "Voyage de mots au gre des camions" (The Travel of Words through Lebanon's Trucks) put truck art in Lebanon at the forefront through a series of photographs that capture the essence of the trucks. By portraying these trucks' cultural roles in Lebanon, talent like Haddad, Kassatly, and Shawwa bring forth a new way to look at art's role in Lebanese culture.
Truck Art - By Sasha Haddad
Haddad's illustration "Truck Art" is detailed with little intrinsic designs with strong cultural narratives in Lebanese history. The hand of Fatima and the evil eye are common symbols drawn on cargo trucks across the country, as many believe they ward off bad luck and negative energy. These symbols can be seen in Haddad's illustration, showcasing the authenticity of her work. The truck Haddad draws is also detailed with little cedar trees throughout the piece, depicting the cedars of God, Lebanon's pride.