Abed Al Kadiri

Today, I Would Like to be

Pencil on paper
30 x 23 cm (closed); 137 x 23 cm (open); leporello

Artist’s Statement

[Text translated from Arabic]

“Today I would like to be a tree” … a wish, a desire, that accompanied me since the beginning of the pandemic.

Nature was my refuge and revelation, and trees were the silent witness to my life in a city whose social and economic structure were cracking, and in which the dream of a revolution was fading when isolation and social distancing became its bad omen.

When we created the “Cities Under Quarantine” project at Dongola, I started my own book. I wrote the phrase, “Today I would like to be.”
I was intending to draw a tree on the flipside of the book, but the August 4 explosion in the port of Beirut took with it every color and shred of meaning from my native city, which I loved.

Today I would like to be a tree became a full-fledged project as a response to the destruction and a means of restoring the approximately fifty houses in the gallery’s vicinity. The tree became a mural and took over the walls of the hall that housed my exhibition, which was destroyed by the explosion.

I then left Beirut, and the background of my book remained empty. After about a year, I visited my city and my book again. Time and experience were enough to make me view what I had drawn differently.

I kept the blank white background of the book, which was waiting for me to draw a tree on it, open to many ideas, scenes, and dreams of a more peaceful tomorrow. I know that my trees were assassinated along with the people who died in the explosion, as if something inside me had been assassinated as well.


Abed Al Kadiri (b. 1984, Beirut) is a multidisciplinary artist, publisher, and curator currently based in Paris. His work focuses on the notion of translating violence, investigating repressed personal and collective traumatic experiences, while emphasizing the destruction of cultural heritage, migration, and belonging. He has had recent solo exhibitions at Galerie Tanit, Munich; Cromwell Place, London; and Galerie Tanit, Beirut. His work can be found in private and public collections such as the British Museum; Institut du monde arabe, Paris; the World Bank, Washington D.C.; Arab Fund, Kuwait. In 2017 he was awarded the Sursock Museum’s Jury Award at the 32nd Salon d’Automne. Apart from his artistic practice, he worked as an art critic before becoming the Director of Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait from 2012–15. In 2017, he cofounded Dongola Limited Editions, a leading publishing house that positions artist’s books as an artistic contemporary practice from the Arab world.

Abed Al Kadiri – Today I Would Like to be… , 2020

Quarantined in Beirut; For Cities Under Quarantine – The Mailbox Project

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