Create Syria: The Future Constellation
22 September – 2 October 2016 at House of Vans, London (Website)
We are all storytellers. Lying on our backs, listening to each other’s whispers, we look up at the night sky. This is where stories begin, under the aegis of the multitude of stars which gives us hope for the future.
Create Syria – a multimedia installation exploring how arts can help build a better future in the wake of the Syria crisis. It was inspired by a joint art project run by International Alert, Ettijahat – Independent Culture and the British Council. It was the main highlight of the “Talking Peace Festival 2016” which celebrated Alert’s 30th anniversary.
The five-year crisis in Syria and the resulting influx of over a million refugees have impacted social cohesion across Lebanon. The exhibition follows the inspiring stories of eight displaced Syrian artists living in Lebanon. They are playing an active role in building long-term resilience and recovery with Syrian refugees and their host communities.
In the face of the Syrian conflict, the featured artists have been running workshops for both their host communities and displaced Syrian children and young people. Working in refugee camps and other communications they use diverse art forms – from theatre, film and painting, to choral singing and animation – they have been constructing a vision for a more peaceful Syria, where creativity and collaboration prevail in spite of the crisis.
Syria was once renowned as a creative and cultural hub. But for those displaced by the violence, this has been lost. Create Syria has given artists and communities an opportunity to dream again, to paint a picture of how their future and their home would look like, and to make their voices heard.
All the artists in the show want to show that Syria is not merely about destruction and crisis, but also regrowth and creativity. In other words, the artists are not just building resilience or a home, but in fact, a collective future – a future that they can envision. A future worth striving for; a future without violence.
The exhibition represents a “constellation”. Each artist is a star connected by hope. Together they create a vision of peaceful future of Syria. Imagining the constellation cannot change the stars, nor can it alter the black emptiness that surrounds them. What it changes is the way we read the sky.
Engaging with divided communities, these artists have inspired children and young people to dream again. For them there are many reasons to reach for the canvas, the brush, the guitar, the camera… instead of a gun.
Artists: Karim Qabrawi, animator; Raghad Makhlouf, theatre and television actress; Ossama Halal, director of Koon Theatre; Hannibal Saad, music festival director; Abed al Aziz Aidy, film-maker; Hussein Taraani – film director and writer; Barkev Taslakian, musician and choir conductor; and Mohamed Aloosh, painter.
Find out more on International Alert – Create Syria
The exhibition launched with a packed private view on the UN International Day of Peace, 21 September 2016:
Press response to the exhibition