Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Paris exhibition "Eternal Sites" (including Palmyra)

PALMYRA WATCH: As Palmyra falls, Paris heritage show looks to the future. Inaugurating an exhibit on endangered Middle Eastern heritage sites Tuesday, French President François Hollande called the show “a militant act”. But the curators are looking ahead to peace and reconstruction. (Leela JACINTO, France24).
These days, the city is being seized, liberated and seized again at such a dizzying pace, it’s hard to know what’s going on in the eastern Syrian desert city.

But now, in a museum thousands of miles away from the Syrian desert and a world apart from the ravages of war, the stones of this ancient city are telling a different story.

It’s a story that tends to get lost in the speed of modern life, with news cycles spinning out jihadist propaganda and politicians vowing to annihilate terrorists from the face of the earth.

A new show, "Eternal Sites: From Bamiyan to Palmyra," at the Grand Palais in Paris aims to highlight the indestructible legacy of endangered heritage sites. Inaugurated by Hollande and the UNESCO chief, Irina Bokova, on Tuesday, the free exhibition runs from December 14 to January 9.

Opening the show before a select audience Tuesday night, Hollande said the exhibit was dedicated to protecting world heritage. "This exhibition is a militant act for visitors who will come not because it’s free, but because they want to be actors, not just spectators, in protecting heritage," Hollande said.


Images of giant, sun-washed stone walls and crumbling mud bricks greet visitors as they enter three cavernous rooms at the Grand Palais. "Eternal Sites" offers viewers an immersive exploration of four inaccessible sites: Palmyra, the Crac de Chevaliers crusader castle, the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus, and Khorsabad, the ancient city in northern Iraq that was the capital of Assyrian King Sargon II, who ruled from 722 to 705 BC.
Meanwhile, I can find no certain news on the current situation in Palmyra, although there is a report that a counter-offensive by the Syrian Army is planned. And here's a statement from the Russian Government: Moscow: Fall of Palmyra is “Blow to the Entire Civilised Humankind” (Taha Abed alWahed, ASHARQ AL-AWSAT).

Background on Palmyra, its history, the ancient Aramaic dialect spoken there (Palmyrene), and the city's tragic recent fate in the hands of ISIS is here with many, many links.