The Middle East Institute’s latest exhibition features 14 Syrian artists who now live elsewhere and are trying to tackle the fallout of the decade-long civil war through their art.
The Middle East Institute’s (MEI) newest exhibition, In this Moonless Black Night: Syrian Art After the Uprising, focuses on Syrian art 10 years after the Syrian civil war began. The exhibition showcases leading Syrian contemporary artists “whose work explores the conflict, trauma and hope of the past decade through the experiences of ordinary Syrians.”
The exhibition, curated by New York-based writer and researcher Maymanah Farhat, features 14 artists. The artists use the experiences of ordinary Syrians to mirror their reality in art, “explor[ing] conflict, trauma and hope of the past decade”.
The artworks reflect on the rampant destruction Syria has experienced, as well as how the millions of displaced citizens are faring by making use of painting, multimedia, photography, video and installation. With their guidance, the viewers’ get a better understanding of the civil war, “from the peaceful start of the revolution to the resulting humanitarian crisis,” as the press release puts it.
“The exhibit features some of the most prominent contemporary Syrian artists working today. Their works offer a range of perspectives around themes of dissent, loss, trauma, survival, memory, displacement and migration,” says curator Farhat. “But what is perhaps most powerful is their emphasis on the lives of the people affected by the conflict, for in their stories, and in the artists’ stories, one sees that ordinary Syrians are committed to building a better future, and that culture is where hope resides.”
The 14 featured artists are Azza Abo Rebieh, Hiba Al Ansari, Ammar al Beik, Nour Asalia, Tammam Azzam, Khaled Barakeh, Bady Dalloul, Oroubah Dieb, Osama Esid, Lara Haddad, Mohamed Hafez, Nagham Hodaifa, Essma Imady and Kevork Mourad.
According to the MEI, half of the featured artists “left Syria during the revolution,” while the other half “emigrated prior or were born abroad.” The 14 artists are currently based in France, Germany, Lebanon and the United States. They are working with an array of imagery and media to communicate the “magnitude and complexity of the past decade”.
“The show transcends Syria. Through their work, the artists are telling a universal story of struggle and hope and of the human cost for the pursuit of justice and freedom,” says Lyne Sneige, Director of MEI’s Arts and Culture Center.
The title of the exhibition is inspired by a poem by the late Syrian poet Da’ad Haddad (1937-1991).
According to the press release, the exhibition will also be supported by panel talks with the artists and the curator, in addition to film screenings of Syrian films and documentaries in collaboration with the Syrian production house, Bidayyat based in Beirut, Lebanon. MEI’s Syria program will be hosting “policy programs to mark the anniversary, including a major policy conference on March 15, 2021.”
The Middle East Institute Art Gallery will be admitting visitors to its galleries by booking timed appointments online. In this Moonless Black Night: Syrian Art After the Uprising will be on view between March 5, 2021 and May 26, 2021. It can also be accessed online.
Thumbnail image: Azza Abo Rebieh, The bed and the white pillow became my new home, Plate 26, 2018. Etching, aquatint on Hahnemuhle paper. The multimedia artist and printmaker lives in Beirut, Lebanon. (Courtesy of the artist)
Headline image: Tammam Azzam, Untitled Diptychon, 2020. Photography and paper collage. The artist has been living in Germany since 2016. (Courtesy of Galerie Kornfeld)