Syria Off Frame opens in NYC

“Syria Off Frame”, the exhibition I curated last year within the Imago Mundi Project that features 141 Syrian artists, just opened last monday at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NYC.

 

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Meanwhile, we launched the catalogue of the exhibition in three languages (Italian-English-Arabic). For those who are interested, you can find it here.

These are some of the amazing review articles that we’ve got so far (we hope to have more, and more than everything we hope that other countries will host “Syria Off Frame” and feature the beauty and the power of contemporary Syrian art):

La Siria oltre la guerra in centoquaranta opere d’arte

“Syria Off Frame”, 140 artisti interpretano il dramma del Paese

“Syria Off Frame”, la Siria degli artisti che non si lascia incorniciare 

La fuga, il dolore e la resistenza. Geografia dell’arte siriana di oggi 

“Syria off frame”. La Siria che resta: artisti tra testimonianza, resistenza e speranza

“Syria Off Frame”

“Syria Off Frame”, contemporary artists beyond the cliches

Syrian vision, Venetian view

Syria in sight 

 

 

 

 

Syrian parody on Daesh

Syrian activists and filmakers Youssef Helali, Maen Watfe and Muhammad Damlakhy have just released “Daya al Taseh”, a series of sketches lampooning Daesh (ISIS).

Check this out, and think of these brave guys when you say “I am Charlie”. There are so many “Charlies” in the Arab world going unnoticed (luckily the WSJ has noticed them and reported about their work here).

 

 

 

Syria Untold at Ars Electronica

Syria Untold, the web aggregator on Syria`s creative resistance, has just been awarded by the prestigious Ars Electronica festival with the honorary mention in the digital communities category.
This is a very important award in the domain of digital arts and creativity, and it`s an acknowledgment of the hard work that the Syria Untold team has been doing since the beginning of our journey in 2012.

I`m extremely happy and proud to be one of the co-founder of this project which is run on a daily basis by a team of talented and brave Syrians who work very hard to collect stories of creative resistance inside the country.
Above all, I am humbled by those Syrians who are still defiant and continue working on creative resistance against all odds.  This award symbolically goes to them.

Syria Untold focuses on this very aspect of the Syrian uprising which is often forgotten by mainstream media. For those who would like to stay updated on the topic, you are welcome to join the Syria Untold weekly newsletter by clicking “Subscribe” on the top left side of the screen here http://us3.campaign-archive1.com/?u=0956443ee9d6593ea29f2aa57&id=7e6c89ea10

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Syria: elections in defiance

Tomorrow is Syria`s election day.

Bashar al-Asad has launched his “Sawa” (together) campaign with a strong online presence both on Facebook and on Twitter ,

 

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(Pics from Sawa Facebook page)

and also on YouTube, where many famous Syrian actors such as Bab al hara`s hero “Mootaz” aka Wael al-Sharq and Syrian movie and musalsalat star Dureid Laham have encouraged people to go vote

-Intakhab, Vote, is the slogan of another (pro-Assad) campaign called Suriya Tantakhib-.

 

Activists have immediately reacted, using creativity and dark humor to highlight the absurdity of these elections happening while millions of civilians are displaced, bombed, and forced to starve.

Here you are some of the most interesting artwork and parodies created by Syrian artists and activists.

From SyriaUntold:

Syrian elections and parallel realities

Syrian dark humor and the elections

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Intakhab (Vote) artwork by Wissam al Jazairy remixed by SyriaUntold

From Wissam al Jazairy`s Facebook page:

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Elections, by Wissam al Jazairy

Lots of creative works and parodies on elections can be found on Dawlaty:

 

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Picture from Dawlaty Facebook page

 

Other popular anti-elections anti-Asad Facebook pages are Blood Elections (Intikhabat al-damm), Sawa Crimes, and For Humanity Only.

Hilarious video parodies of the Syrian actors encouraging people to vote can be found here and here and here.

 

 

 

 

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Syria Speaks in tour

Syria Speaks is an anthology of uprising literature, art and culture, showcasing the work of over fifty artists and writers who are challenging the culture of violence in Syria with creative resistance.

The book is edited by Malu Halasa and Zaher Omareen (with whom I co-curated two exhibitions about Syria`s creative resistance), and Syrian journalist Nawara Mahfoud, and is published by Saqi books in English and Arabic.

Dan Gorman and Yasmine Fedda at Reelfestivals have put together a great event to launch the book and showcase the incredible amount of creativity coming out from Syria since the beginning of the uprising. The Syria Speaks UK tour will feature, together with the book co-authors Malu Halasa and Zaher Omareen, writer Khaled Khalifa, videoartist Khalil Younes, writer Robin Yassin-Kassab.

Dates are published here.

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Arts and culture from Syria`s uprising

An update on what`s new on arts and culture coming out from Syria these days, despite the ongoing bloodshed and the brutal armed conflict.

Several Syrian artists are gathering at the Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA) in Paris for the art exhibition Syrie: Cris-Action (22 May- 22 June 2014).

Among them, filmaker and visual artist Khaled Abdulwahed, author of the amazing short movie Tuji; visual artist Dino Ahmed Ali, whom I have been knowing since my Damascus days and have recently met in Paris, where he now lives and works on very cool stuff;   and visual artist Hamid Suleiman, who does amazing illustrations and visual art (we had the pleasure of hosting him in Italy for an art exhibit two years ago).

Another Syrian artist who is around these days with exhibits and talks is Tammam Azzam -whom I was happy to host last year in Milan with Festival del Cinema Africano for “Creative Syria”-. Tammam, who became internationally known for his series Syrian Museum, is now exhibiting in Dakar, Budapest, and in New York where he will be part of an event focused on Syria and Iran.

On the filmaking side, probably the biggest event is happening next week at Cannes Film Festival where acclaimed Syrian director Osama Mohammad is is premiering his new documentary, Silvered Water Syria self-portrait, entirely filmed with a mobile phone by a female filmaker based in Homs, Wiam Berdixan.

Also several Syrian TV-drama makers are filming short-movies and TV drama (musalsalat) dealing with the current situation in Syria. Abdelhakim al Qutfan, a very well known Syrian actor who also starred in “Wilada min-al-Khasira” part three (the TV series broadcast last Ramadan whose plot revolved  around the Syrian uprising and how it turned into an armed conflict), is presenting today in Amman “The night of the fall”.

 

The short movie, directed by Nawras Abu Saleh, tries to imagine the night before the fall of Assad`s regime; a hope that several Syrians, including artists and drama makers, still cultivate, despite the dire situation in the country.

 

 

 

Syria, time passes…but not youth, beauty, hope

This video came out yesterday from Yarmouk, the Palestinian “camp” in Damascus, which has been bombed and put under siege by the Syrian regime forces.

You just have to watch it and, even if you don`t understand the words (its pretty meaningful title is ( الساعه عم تمشي )”Time goes by”), you will understand what it is about.

 

 

You see these guys playing piano and singing in the middle of the destruction and devastation, alone in the middle of nowhere…yet, there is life in there, plenty of life…

 

Not by chance, I had another powerful life lesson last week when I was in Jordan for the Arab Bloggers meeting #4. There were amazing people, from all across the Arab world; friends that I hadn`t been seeing for an year or more and I have to say that I really, truly enjoyed to spend quality time with them, exchange thoughts, have fun.

But the most striking, powerful thing was to meet Marcell. She came all the way from Aleppo. I guess it was a long, super stressing and difficult trip to get to Jordan. She came with a beautiful smile, tired, wearing masculine clothes. But when I saw her the day after she had her nails done and painted in red, her hair were dark, she was wearing a skirt and a necklace. She was singing and dancing, as if she were going to a party to celebrate her youth.

Marcell doesnt have an easy life in Aleppo. Her neighborhood is controlled by ISIS, she recently lost her mum who was shot “by mistake” at a checkpoint. She is Christian and she is a woman. With a group of friends, all of them activists from the peaceful resistance movement, they managed to rebuild and take care of some schools in the neighborhood.

When I look at Marcell`s eyes I see life. When I look at these guys from Yarmouk, singing with their piano outdoor in the middle of nothing, I see life and hope for Syria. And I wonder why others — international media, diplomats, the people who come at gatherings and conferences saying that “what is happening in Syria is just an international conspiracy” and “Bashar al-Asad is the only one who can guarantee a multicultural and multi-religious Syria”–  cannot or do not want to see people like Marcell or these guys from Yarmouk…

 

*But if you think that it still makes sense to talk about people like Marcell or Yarmouk`s youth, please have a look at Syria Untold, the web portal which tells about creative resistance and civil society in Syria, both in English and Arabic.