Art in destruction; how Syrian activists use art as a ‘weapon’


This exhibition is a celebration of the extraordinary creativity coming up from the streets of Syria. Spread on the internet, protest art takes on a powerful role of rebellion as it strengthens solidarity, breaks the barrier of fear and offers hope.


‘Movement of the people’ exhibition takes place in the University of Essex’s Art Gallery. This monthly exhibition is sliced in three parts which form the work of internationally renowned artists and street activists.


The aim of these people and such exhibition is to raise awareness among young people, adults and to focus on the unfolding civil war in Syria. Furthermore, to highlight the effect of conflict on a displaced population.


When you hear the word “Syria”, what are the first pictures that pop up in your mind? It’s war, blood, wreckage, disadvantaged children, refugees, isn’t it? That’s right, there is a terrible civil war going on in Syria, which affects dramatically its population.


Not only they became homeless people, but they also get imprisoned and tortured. There was a very thought-provoking video projected, in a thematically designed room- lots of shoes without shoelaces.


The video showed a victim, whose story was projected on his own back presenting the horrible situations he went through. Such as several serious beatings, famine, being closed in a room for many months, not knowing the date or time. He explained that he was left naked, every clothing item was taken away from him, except the shoes. However, they removed the shoelaces, to avoid any suicide attempts.


The paintings showed bits and pieces of the war’s results: bombed flats, ruins, group of homeless people, however the artists added overlays of famous masterpieces, such as: Matisse’s dancers, Goya’s The 3rd of May. Adding colour to the darkness, a drop of happiness in the sorrow; it is a way of rebellion. Widely spread on the internet they emphasise their will of escaping those circumstances, that they want to be freed, to live a normal life again.


The posters also forward compelling ideas. For instance, there is a picture with a lion shooting a caged bird. President Bashar al-Assad’s name in Syrian means ‘lion’, seen here as shooting an imprisoned dove of peace. Another one presented a huge fingerprint, however somebody has stolen a part of its identity. What is more, a men dressed in black represents the ISIS, with an immense smile on its face, and with a petrol pump in its hand suggests ISIS’s strength through controlling oil supplies in Syria.


The most emotional part of all this, was a collection of photographs, taken about the demolished, bombed streets of Syria, where blood is flowing in the streets and children are playing around tanks. The saddest part is that children got used to such circumstances- they just got used to living in war and are happy playing around dangerous weapons in perilous areas.


This exhibition is put together by one of Syria’s best known and loved artists, Ali Ferzat, animation of satirical puppets by Top Goon, protest posters from the Alshaab Collective, prints by artist Ibrahim Fakhri and cell-phone cinema by Zaher Omareen.



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