A new generation of Syrian artists, cartoonists, photographers and writers has emerged from the region's bitter conflictby Malu Halasa / July 14, 2014 / Leave a comment
An alternative revolution is taking place in Syria, while the three-year long conflict between rebel forces and President Bashar al-Assad rages on. Its weapons are not sectarian violence or chemical warfare but spray paint, cameras, pen, ink and digital illustration. For Syrian artists, filmmakers and writers, creativity has become the first line of defence against violence and tyranny.
Since the civil war began in 2011, there has been an outpouring of art and expression across all levels of Syrian society, from small towns to its war-battered second city Aleppo. This work challenges the increasing violence on all sides, which has left more than 162,000 people dead and nearly half the country’s population displaced.
A new generation of underground Syrian dissident artists, writers and thinkers has emerged—a movement that is gaining international recognition for its aesthetics of resistance. The British Museum recently announced the creation of a new archive of Syrian art at a discussion entitled “Behind the Headlines: A Revolution in Syrian Art.” And this month, graffiti stencils of Syrian martyrs will be included in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s exhibition Disobedient Objects, a history of protest through objects.
“The artistic response” to the Syrian conflict, as my collaborator Zaher Omareen and I wrote in the introduction to our new book Syria Speaks, “is far more than a litany of turmoil; it illustrates the accelerated experiences of a people, many of whom have been fighting for their survival. It shows their innate ability to overcome, and their dreams for the future of their country.”
Five works from this new creative frontline appear below:
Across Syria, citizen photographers have been risking their lives in order to document their country’s destruction, posting their findings on Facebook. The online group is known as Lens Young, with sub sections named after a city, its inhabitants or some other moniker. For example Lens Young Homsi, Lens Young Dimashqi [Damascus] and Lens Young Idlib, are made up of young men and women, some of whom are teenagers. They use whatever photographic equipment is at their disposal, from mobile phones to DSLR cameras, to…