We leave Syria accidentally, I call my friend Ahmad, whom I shared with my studio in 2019. He told me he learned to play ” Oud” by himself after he settled in Turkey, along with his father, he was in Jordan before and they left the country in a legal way.
Ahmad is still the same, his only concern is the painting, almost all the time, and then came a few additions, paper, flutes, Oud…
There is something delicate and very elegantly Syrian surrounding this artist, even the instruments he chose to use imply that. Loneliness also surrounds him, us, once we leave the country.
This is a complaint about the inevitable price we pay either way, whether we stay or leave. this is a complaint that is so close to my heart because it sounds like my country from far away and also from the inside.
There was a video, then I decided there won’t be a video, and I believe it is enough to share screenshots of some collected videos which I did not produce, one of our humanitarian organizations did.
The infographics show the major complaint vividly, if not, a lot of families were forced to displacement after the war, some of those unlucky families who lost everything and were left with nothing settled in newly freed areas, where a lot of weapon remnants were left planted around.
Now I leave you with a small video,
Children at The School
“They want a school, they want a pitch, balls, they want windows, they freeze, we want a school, to feel that we are studying, because we cannot feel it. we are cold, rain, no heaters, no fuel..”
The approved annual schedule for electricity, according to the people’s expectations, is as follows: During the spring and fall seasons: moderate cut-off hours ranging from 3 or 4 hours of electricity to 1 to 2 hours cut throughout the day. Sometimes it gets better depending on the weather. During the winter and summer seasons: As we approach the two virtuous seasons, the cut-off hours gradually increase, ranging between 4 or 5 hours, to 1 or 2 hours of electricity throughout the day. When it is very cold or hot, the cutting hours may increase to 6 or 7, 8 hours or more in exchange for an hour or half an hour of electricity…. For days….. and more….. Damascus is the spoiled city of course, and those were the expectations of its people unless they live in the fanciest neighborhoods.
Two weeks ago my parents told me that the electricity would shut down for 30 continuous hours in the village. comes back for half or one hour.
“The official “Tishreen” newspaper had published a report, on July 3, in which it explained that house rents have increased by more than 75% in the capital, Damascus, and recorded record numbers ranging between 200,000 and 300,000 Syrian pounds.
The newspaper said that the majority of homeowners ask the tenant to pay a full year’s rent, and a few ask for six months.” 1 (Enad Baladi newspaper, 2020)
This case is about an artist who lives in Damascus. She goes to her studio, far enough from her house and the city, she finds out that someone broke in. A small unprotected room on the roof of a building in one of Damascus’ suburbs. Paintings were on the ground, the thieves stole some little things and a bag of friends, tools that have been accompanying the artist since she started painting.
Taya once again returns to the studio to document her long trip there for us but you can only see the roof from the whole video, you can see the gray city from there.
I sink into her short documented memories and mess with the tools on my cellphone to edit this low-quality video, like the rest of them. I sink into her videos and remember all of the studios she rented and her stories about them, then I remember the only studio I rented in 2019, for a year and a half, being there endlessly.
We speak and treat this matter – having a studio- as if it were a house.
To have a studio means having two jobs, one to provide your art, and one to create your art. Yet imagine doing that in Syria where unemployment rates in the country among the entire adult population reached 50%, while it reached 78% among the youth. That is without getting into the details of the poverty and exploitation of the Syrian art market which barely exists except for a few. Also without mentioning the prices of materials and the generally very low income.
Above in the quote and the text lies the reason why renting a studio is a hard job for an artist in Syria, and why Taya could not get a secured place. Below, in the video lie memories of a young artist who needs a place to create, otherwise, she has no place in this world.
“This faithful man is a soldier with a monolog in the desert.
Men Men Men
Tell me about being a man in Syria”
In this collaborative work between me and the Faithful, we are not presenting the real drama, but trying to reflect on how hard it is to be a soldier in Syria even if the man is not serving in a dangerous area. We know it can last for years, and it can be a lot uglier than our peaceful visual piece.
We developed this work together remotely, facing the normal obstacles… everything…
“Compact” is the obvious name I called this short documentary, composed of documentary footage from Damascus’s biggest bus station located beneath “The Bridge of The President”, and the surrounding streets and other three short films.
Majd who is an instructor at the faculty of Fine Arts documents some minutes of his trip to the University. Later a very important addition came, three videos made by the street photographer Mohammad Nammour showcasing what is happening inside the public transportation.
The importance of the material is simply because raising a camera or a cellphone in public places in Syria is not an allowed activity, therefore to do it, while walking in the streets as Majd did, or sitting at a very close distance from other strangers as Nammour did, may have severe consequences. Without this kind of inside observation, no matter how short or reduced it is, the real suffering of the Syrian street will always be lost and unacknowledged.
In one of these videos, we see a very awkward argument between a passenger and a microbus Driver reflecting the heavy impacts of the economical catastrophe in Syria. Witnessing how the Syrian lira value is dropping continuously until it is treated like an old piece of paper that everyone is trying to get rid of.
In this video three artists based in Damascus attempt to present to you some of what it feels like, not just the traffic, but everything else we guess.