Snapshot of 'Skype Call with Mum' Video, 2016
Conversations in the Midst of the Syrian Conflict:
A Visual Response to the Syrian Conflict via the Domestic and Personal
The news shows us what we already know about the war in Syria and, in fact, any conflict in the Middle East, insofar as it resorts to familiar forms of news reportage. Typically, this can be a stream of constant violent war imagery, which in turn creates a distance between the viewer and the tragedy itself,
thus producing a feeling of detachment and indifference - the familiar ‘compassion fatigue'.
The research looks at developing a counter-point to the mainstream media by bringing to light some
of the hidden histories of the affected Syrian people. Small histories are told by way of monologues, testimonies, and informal interviews with a known circle of participants. People who lived or are living with the conflict day-to-day, a group consisting of my mother, sisters, nephews,
nieces and a few friends.
My experience as a Syrian living outside the conflict, my relationships to the participants, and my travel to the country during this time of war are all considered as inspiring material, which both constrain and focus the topic under discussion. This participant-observer methodology incorporation with gathering material from inside the conflict enriched the research findings and pushed it towards an informing exploration of the ever-changing distance between myself and the topic. The project refuses to be another Middle Eastern art cliché. It enjoys qualities of inventive, and at once truthful, documentary practice. It embraces a personal and domestic perspective,
looking through the eyes of those whom are living the conflict.
At the same time, I adopt a compassionate response that seeks to engage the viewer’s sympathy, not their anger. Consequently, I investigate the ethical issues of war images and argue against the use of violent images. To inform and inspire the practice, I investigate relevant Syrian and Middle Eastern art to position the project within the contemporary Middle Eastern home-related art.
These research steps led to a number of hybrid mixes of documentary and experimental short videos.
The practice is supported by a number of illustrations – as additional material - which has been created when it wasn’t at all possible to gather material from Syria. The written thesis informs and supports
the creative component, while the practice stands as a creative version of the written research and findings. The thesis also provides a reflective commentary on how the practice came to be,
the difficult circumstances behind its production and the passage it took before it was finally realised.
In 2016, the thesis was published in:
The British Library - London, University of Brighton and at The University for the Creative Arts.
E-publication can be found here:
To see some of the artwork produced as part of this research, please go to:
Sample of Arabic hand-written diary
Post Doctoral work-in-progress, 2016
Having been interested in socially and politically concerned art for years, I have developed a series of paintings and illustrations to question the unusual social and civil conditions Middle Eastern women and specifically Syrian women live in. Between 2011 and 2012, I investigated the psychological effects on women resultant by polygamy. Together, raising awareness of Arabic women rights to be fully active members of society and inevitably promote their right of freedom of choice.
In parallel, my MA research investigated ways of creating connotative illustration practice in response to the positive impact of the cultural and natural shock of leaving Syria and living in England. The project followed observational methods to create life-illustrations in response to landscapes, cultural aspects as well as architectural ones around England and places around Europe like Paris and Prague. This research led to self-published book ‘Graphical Reality: Renovating Visual Figures’ in 2011.
To see paintings and illustrations of these research projects, please check my profile on Saatchi Art.
The current post doctoral research is exploring the potential of the handwritten word and particularly Arabic hand written calligraphy in response to the Syrian refugee crisis and their immigration towards Europe.
Through following a number of refugees’ journeys leaving Syria until they reach and live for a sufficient amount
of time at their destination, I am looking at the
human-home relationship and the emerging relation with their new residence. In contrast to the Ph.D. project of working
with a close circle of family and friends, the further research is outward-looking, concerned with the larger community of unknown people, which will open up the research inquiries
in a diverse way. Methodologically it is distinct from anthropological or sociological approaches, instead it depends on quality research bringing provoking samples
of narrative to the project.
For instance, collecting inspiring personal diaries of
refugees during their journey and correspondences
written in Arabic enthuse a creative multi-media practice in response.On a human level, the project will contribute to our understanding of the Syrian refugees’ situation post their immigration to Europe. On an artistic level, it will lead to
a creative response that unlocks the potential of Arabic
calligraphy, which grew over 1400 years. It will also explore its rich and complex artistic forms, spotlight its heritage and its exciting relation to Sufism, while looking at its modern involvement towards free contemporary script. In this way,
I open up inquiries about the discipline prospective
as a spiritual and traditional but constantly-evolving type
of art, which is also close to my heart.
Painting from 'Four Women' series
Acrylic on Canvas, 50 x 70 cm
Passion Solo Exhibition