Syrian Statement of Life: Art in the Face of Demise

 

Syrians always used art as a tool of resistance against death, celebrating life and hope, using either unconventional themes or traditional ones. Since the revolution started Syrians tried to turn the ugliness and pain of war and destruction into art as a powerful tool for the manifestation of life. It is the art of survival.

In this article, I am writing here about one beautiful face of Syria.

 

Massasset Matteh

When the revolution started, a group of Syrian actors activists formed a company called Massasset Matteh (Mate Straw). They brought back into life a traditional art of storytelling by using puppets. The idea is developed from the historical shadow puppetry in Syrian that is well known by Karakoz & Iwaz, which are the two main characters (puppets) in the show that usually dealt with social and political situations. In the past it was performed in cafes and streets. The modern Syrian puppetry show revived by these activists who set and shot their shows in secret location then uploaded their shows online. The online shows, like its old ancestors, talked about the political situation and the ruling junta. Sadly, the shows stopped. One of my favorite episodes is called: The Last Chapter in Hell, when the actor tells the crazy dictator: In the name of Tomorrow: Go.

 

The Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution

“The revolution created a space for creativity that astonished us as Syrians, and made us ask ourselves: Where all these talents were hidden?” Wrote the patrons of the website The Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution, about their vision behind starting their initiative. For this, they decided to start a website for collecting and documenting all creative works by Syrians that are scattered all around the cyberspace and display them in one place, whether these works were: Photography, graffiti, caricature, Arabic calligraphy, comics, stamps, music, pamphlets and any form of creative work. The project is an act of resistance, and according to the creators this is an attempt to participate in writing the modern history of Syria.

Mural:"We Will Starve But We Will Not Kneel."According to source: The graffiti is in Masraba; it is the work of an unknown person who was impressed by Al-Sahra’s idea and adopted their name.

Mural:”We Will Starve But We Will Not Kneel.” According to source:
The graffiti is in Masraba; it is the work of an unknown person who was impressed by Al-Sahra’s idea and adopted their name.

 

Comic4Syria

A group of graphic designers and animators gathered to create comics and publish them in a special Facebook page created for this purpose. In the Arab World comics are usually target children, but the artists in this project took incidents in the daily life of the revolution and turned them into visual anecdote that suites all ages. In one of the group’s contributions, 1000 copies of short comic magazine was distributed in Za’tari camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan.

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Dawlaty

Dawlaty (My State) is an organization designed to teach and spread civil and political education by using different methods including art. The main subjects taught by Dawlaty are human and women rights, citizenship, transparency and accountability, transitional justice and dominance of law. One of the most important methods used by Dawlaty for education is caricature. The organization encourage artists and activists to send their works and ideas to be published.

Who is driving UN vehicle?  Painting published by Dawlaty.

Who is driving UN vehicle?
Caricature published by Dawlaty.

 

Abounaddara Films

An independent film production company from Syria that gathered a group of documentary film makers. This company mainly specialized in producing short films about certain ideas and concepts in the current lives of Syrians. Abounaddara is a nickname for a man wearing eyeglasses. Personally, I like an interview with a well-known Syrian woman activist called Marcell Shehwaro talking about her refusal to waste her energy in hating those who are killing other Syrians.

 

Kafrnabel Signs

Kafrnabel is a small town located in Idlib Governorate in Northwest Syria. Since the revolution started, this town which was rarely heard of by Syrians shined worldwide with its creative talents in making eloquent signs and witty drawings to send their messages to the world. The creators of the signs take all ideas and suggestions from their local community, and the artists and calligraphers working on this activity say that the source of inspiration is the revolutionary meetings of the people as their rural lives facilitate the exchange of ideas during their night gatherings with the people. One of the artists called Ahmed Jalel stated that one of the messages they wanted to deliver to the world is that Syrians knows exactly what they want “and we have the right of freedom and dignity like other nations around the world.”*

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ISIS is an offspring of Assad regime

ISIS is an offspring of Assad regime

Yarmouk Piano

Mukhayyam al-Yarmouk (Yarmouk camp) for Palestinian refugees is a district in Damascus was established in 1957 to host Palestinians that were displaced from their homes. Through time, the camp also hosted Syrian families. Like other areas in Syria, Mukhayyam al-Yarmouk has its share of the ongoing crisis. In September 2013 the camp became under a savage embargo by regime forces preventing any food or aid into the camp leading to many deaths caused by starvation. In the camp a group of youths decided to play music and sing in the face of hunger and cheer up the starved civilians. So they formed a group called Shabab Al Yarmouk (The Youths of Yarmouk). Their piano’s stage is the streets of their beloved camp and they write and compose their songs. 

 

Street Art and the Culture of Resistance

This burst of creative works in Syria did not just included professional artists, actors and graphic designers, but it also included many ordinary people chose to express themselves and their vision in some form of art. One man from besieged Duma took the leftovers of death tools like bullet shells and missiles, and recycled them into objects that can be used in people’s lives.

It is called the Art of Survival.

 

Finally, here is one of the artworks of the Syrian painter Wissam Al Jazairy, a well-known artist and painter for his contributions in the Syrian revolution and one of my favorite artists.

In this work he present how he sees the destruction of historic Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo.

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* Enab Baladi Newspaper: http://enab-baladi.com/archives/2652

 

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Introducing Anarchadia: Let us all unite

A while ago I discovered the Syrian extreme rock ‘n’ roll band. Though I prefer alternative rock, but they are really really good.

They say that the main concept to the album ” Let Us All Unite ” is a manifestation of realistic issues the world is going through, thus defining the constant struggle of mankind against all forms of injustice, and inequality pertaining to everyday experiences.

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If Assad Goes, Al Qaeda Goes

Originally posted on مدونة الدكتور سمير التقي:

Dr Samir Al Taqi

David Ignatius wrote in his Washington Post column of December 2nd that ousting Syrian President Bashar Al Assad may be only the beginning of a serious effort to confront Al Qaeda in Syria. I cannot agree more. Naturally, Assad cannot disagree more. But who is getting it right in this simple equation?

The main point that rises from the two conflicting views is this: Al Qaeda in Syria, and its reemergence in Iraq, has reached an extremely alarming level. Therefore, it must be confronted. But who are the forces that can counter those radicals?

The simple answer is that the Sunni majority in Syria is the only possible force which can adequately confront and break Al Qaeda. An anti-fundamentalist position taken by the majority of Syrian Sunnis will bring double defeat to Al Qaeda. First, a Sunni offensive will deprive Al Qaeda of any control of…

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‎الجبل وناطحة السحاب

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مزاج الغرفة ساكن والوقت مفقود. كلما مد الهواء يده وحرك الستائر تسلل النور داخلالغرفه يتلاعب بجفون نوّار. تفتح نوّار عينيها وكأنها وُجدت للتو. لامعنى للذاكرة ولالقادم الأيام، هي الآن هنا وهو أنفس قيمة تحملها. لاشيء تسعى إليه، لامدرسة تتنافس فيها ولاأوامر تلزمها ولاواجبات تؤديها. كانت دائما تقضي الصيف في منزل جدها الذي بناه بيديه على أطراف ضيعة غافية فوق جبل التين والزيتون المنسي.

 تقفز نوّار من فراشها وتفتح الباب المودي إلى ترّاس عريض ليظهر لها يوم صيفي مشمشي دافئ ككل يوم في هذا الموسم، على إحدى حوافه مصطبه مزروعه نعنعا بريا وزعتر وريحان، تتجه أولا نحو الريحان لتأخذ عبقا عميقا من عطرها. تضع يداها على حافة التراس وتترك الرياح الأبدية التي لاتتوقف عن الهبوب بنفض مابقي من غبار المنام. تتحرك بسرعة لتنزل الدرجات نحو البئر الواقع تحت درج السلم، ترفع عمّتها الماء بسطل جلدي مربوط بحبل طويل وتسكب الماء القارس في جرن كي تغسل نوّار وجهها، ثم تخطف نوّار جزء من تنورة عمتها العريضة وتضعها على وجهها لتمتص الماء ثم تفرُّ مقهقة بعد أن تجذب عمتها تنورتها بحزم متمتة بتوبيخ لم تسمعه نوّار بسبب ابتعادها نحو المطبخ. تقف جدتها قرب الطاولة المفتوحة يدويا لتعد طعام الإفطار. ابريق الشاي يزمجر على البابور، هناك صحون جبنه ولبنه صنعت من حليب بقرة المنزل، وزعتر، وزيتون من شجرة الدار العجوز، وتين مجفف. تُناولها جدتها سلة من القش وتطلب منها احضار البيض من قن الدجاج في منزل عمتها المجاور. تركض نوّار داخل المنزل نحو القن الصغير وتمد يدها تحت الدجاجات الراقدة على بيوضها، استلّت عدة بيضات وتراجعت فرحة بغنيمتها. تناول جدتها السلة فتسألها الجدة.

بيض مقلي ولا مسلوق؟

نوّار: مقلي عيون تيته

 حاضر تيته

تسرع نوّار نحو غرفتها في الطابق العلوي لتغير بيجامتها الغير المتناسقة، فالقميص والبنطلون ينتميان لمجموعتين مختلفٌ ألوانها ورسوماتها. لكن في هذا الوقت من العام وفي هذا المكان بالذات، قلّما اكترثت نوّار بما ترتديه فهي في إجازة من أي اعتبارات أو اهتمامات أو نوازع داخلية.ترتدي قميص أبيض فوقه أفرول جينز بحمالات بجيب عريض على صدرها تضع فيه ازهار بريه وأحيانا قطط صغيرة. تنزل للطابق السلفي لتتناول طعام الإفطار، لكن خلال مرورها بالردهة تمسك والدتها بأذنها على حين غرة وتشدها.

اليوم مافي شطح برا البيت، فهمتي؟

تجيب نوّار بألم: حاضر حاضر. إلا أنها لم تكن صادقة تماما في إجابتها، وتعلم أمها ذلك. تنهي نوّار إفطارها وتأمرها والدتها بالموث في الغرفة. تجلس في الطابق العلوي على حافة الترّاس قرب أعشابها المعطرة تنظر إلى الأفق الزيتوني الجميل. بالكاد تستطيع كبح جماح نفسها كي لاتعدو بأقصى سرعة خارج البيت وأمها تعدو ورائها لاهثه تعدها بالعقاب عندما تعود. الرياح الأبدية تكلمها وتغريها بالخروج واللعب معها في الطرقات. فكّرت نوّار بطريقة للتسلل دون أن يلحظ أحد غيابها مقنعة نفسها بأنها ستغيب لساعة واحدة فقط، عندها خطرت لها الفكرة وحزمت أمرها. تنزل نوّار الدرجات بخفة وتتجه للطرف الخلفي من حديقة البيت، تزحف خلف حديقة الخضروات الصغيرة حتى تصل إلى حائط الزريبة. تتسلق الحائط الحجري نحو السطح، تتخفى خلف أكياس الخيش المملؤة بالحنطة نحو الجدار الواصل بين بيت جدها وبيت الجيران. تنزل على شجرة التين وتصرخ جذلة بأسماء أصدقائها الذين يحضرون فرحين. ينطلقون معا نحو منزل أحد أقربائها من أصحاب المواشي. هناك يلعبون بين الخراف التي تتهيأ لرحله المرعى، تستلقي نوّار تحت معزتها التي تحبها وتحاول عصر الحليب من ضرعها دون جدوى. تأتي زوجة الراعي إليهم بوعاء مملوء بحليب طازج، فتشرب نوّار وأصدقاؤها وينطلقون معا نحو المطحنة التي يعمل فيها جدها. أصدقاؤها يفضلون اكمال طريقهم نحو أرض التين والعنب بينما تدخل نوّار المطحنة. تجد جدها مغطى بطحين أبيض من رأسه حتى أخمص قدميه، تجري إليه لتعانقه.

 نوّار: كيفك جدو

الجد: منيح جدو، ماقالتلك أمك لاتطلعي من البيت؟

نوّار: بدي شوفك

الجد: يالله روحي ارجعي عالبيت

نوّار: مابدي.

تنطلق نوّار نحو الطرف الآخر من المطحنه لتهرب من باب قصير يفضي إلى ساحة الأعراس. لايوجد اليوم عرس لكن بعض الناس كانوا يسلقون قمحا في قدر هائل الحجم. ناولها أحدهم صحن معدني مملوء بالقمح المرشوش بالسكر. لفت نظرها صوص صغير في وسط الساحة فركضت نحوه لتمسك به، ركض الصوص حول الساحة وركضت نوّار وراءه غير مدركه بأن أمه الدجاجه كانت تلحق بها لتنقرها نقره مؤلمه عند كاحلها وتفر نوّار نحو الطريق الزراعي لتلحق بأصدقائها. تعبر مقابر القريه نحو الطريق الفاصل بين أراض مختلفة محددة بأسوار حجرية بناها الفلاحون، هذه الأسوار كانت تجتذب نباتات بريه شوكيه صفراء تنمو على أطرافها تكرهها نوّار لأنها كانت تلتصق بثيابها عندما تتسلق هذه الأسوار. تصل أرض التين فتجد أصدقاؤها فوق أشجارهم، وشجرتها المفضلة تنتظرها فتهرع نحوها وتتسلقها وتبدأ بتداول المزاح والحكايات وقطف ثمار التين. قررت وأصدقاؤها النزول نحو شجيرات العنب الأخضر وقطف بعد العناقيد، ينزل صديقها حسن أولا ويتجه نحو العناقية ويقطف أحدها، كان البقية يقفون وراءه، فجأة يظهر ثعبان من تحت الشجيرة فيولّون الأدبار جميعا صارخين نحو الطريق الزراعي، وفي منتصف الطريق توقفوا من الانهاك وضحكوا وتشاركوا عنقود العنب اليتيم عائدين أدراجهم نحو الضيعة. يصلوا إلى دكانة أبو نبو، يشترون الكازوز الأحمر الذي يعبئه لهم البقّال في أكياس شفافه ويضع المصاصات بداخلها ويوصيهم بإمساكها جيدا من المنتصف. تنزهوا نحو بيت قريب ملحق به مغارة يضع بداخلها أصحاب المكان مؤونتهم، لكن لم تكن نوّار تجرؤ ولا أي من أصدقائها على النزول إلى الأسفل ويبررون خوفهم برواية قصص مخيفة ينسجها خيالهم عن العفاريت التي تسكن في المغارة.

 اتفقوا بعد ذلك على التسابق حول الضيعة، وعندما عبرت نوّار من أمام بيت جدها أطلقت رجليها للريح بعد أن هُيء لها أنها سمعت صوت والدتها ينادي اسمها. بعد أن عادت إلى بيت أصدقائها وجيرانها، عاد ادراكها بالوقت وكان أغلب النهار قد انقضى وعليها أن تعود قبل أن يتضاعف العقاب بعد غياب الشمس. ومع علمها بما ينتظرها من والدتها إلاّ أن نوّار كانت سعيده وحره لدرجة أن كان ماينتظرها لن يعكّر صفوها ولن يمنعها من إعادة الكرّه غدا…

 نوّار..نوّار وين التقرير؟

يعود ادراكها بالزمان والمكان، السماء السمراء اللانهائية استبدلت بسقف واطئ من الاسمنت والحديد، ورائحة التراب استبدلت بمعطرات الجو الكيميائية والعطور المصنّعه. كل شيء يبدو من الجنس النفسه، أطنان من الرتابه والإنكفاء تسحق نوّار تحتها. موسيقى الطبيعة استبدلت بفوضى حديث النميمة وكلام عمّا يجب فعله ومالايجب فعله، وضجيج أبيض يقودها للجنون. أوراق بيضاء مرمية في كل مكان كانت يوما شجره تشبه شجرتها المفضلة. وروح غائبة ومغيبه.

نوّار: نعم خلص التقرير، رح ابعته بالإيميل.

تجلس نوّار لساعات طويلة كي تنهي عملها وكأنها ضريبة كل الأيام التي كانت تجري فيها إلى كل مكان. تتخيل الوحشه نباتات غامقة متسلقة تعربش على الجدران وعلى جسدها. لاشمس مشمشيه هنا ولارياح أبدية. تعيش على ضوء النيون الكرب الذي يمتص طاقة الأرض ليلا نهارا داخل ناطحة سحاب متوحشة تعج بالحركه تمتد وتتطاول ولن تكون أبدا بجمال جبلها البعيد.

 

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Begging Memory to Regain its Forgetful State

For few days now, I couldn’t stop listening to the song I am posting here at the end of this post that is so beautiful and so cruel. It is a torture as it exhumed memories buried so deep in the dark abyss of my mind that will never see the light of my electric signals moving through my brain cells. There is something about music that can lift up the cover over ugly wounds, then leaves you in shock and pain. Music think that it can heal, but for me this is not true, it only can expose me to a vulnerable shaky state. I was depressed and anxious in the middle of the night. And night can conspire with music to free the bestial memories that were long defeated and forced to retreat. Material borders disappear in the dark, maybe this is why we fear the dark, no obvious or tangible boundries. The loss of limits released images kept me speechless.

So as a defense mechanism, my tears fell generously to wash my tainted mind and refresh my presence in current reality, to bring me back. I was terrified and to escape from me, I slept while begging my memory to regain its forgetful state. But my mind ran wild in my dreams. It was a wrecked morning.

Then I started listening to the song again. My mind insisted.

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Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: Two Nations in One Tragedy

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On the 3rd of April 2014, an 18 year old Syrian young man called Yehya from the old city of Homs became the one millionth Syrian refugee in Lebanon. According to United Nations, this is the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world, and half of them are children. The total number of Syrian refugees is about 10 million out of 22.4 million the total Syrian population, this means that half of Syrians are refugees. The war also killed 150,000 humans according to official data and I believe the number is much higher, 250,000 detainees, thousands of missing Syrians from all ages, thousands of injured and those who will continue their lives with disabilities.

Lebanon is already suffering from unemployment and sectarian struggles. The war in Syria has negatively affected one of the most vital sectors for the Lebanese economy: Tourism. It also affected investments and wages as Syrians will work with much less wages than the Lebanese. The increasing numbers of Syrian refugees also place pressure on water, electricity, education and sanitation services. Many children are out of schools and in the streets working to support their families. Many Lebanese showed generosity in helping the refugees by distributing aid and arranging residents. They also showed courage in helping the fleeing families cross the borders safely while regime forces shell civilians as they escape.

The large number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon impose huge challenges of UN and local Lebanese NGO’s. Several months ago UN announced cuts in aid given to Syrian refugees in Lebanon that are already not getting enough to sustain them with dignity as only %13 of the amount of humanitarian appeal in Lebanon is funded. About two weeks ago, a Syrian woman called Mariam Al Khouli set herself on fire in front of a UN aid center to protest the decision of stopping the aid it was given to her and to her 4 children as 3 of them need medical care. In hospital, Mariam said that UN aid workers made fun of her and they “burned her heart before she burned her flesh.”  Many Syrian refugees are living in dire situations, they are renting places unfit for living like abandoned huts and yards. Many of them depend on charities for living, some face discrimination and assaults, there are reports of kidnapped Syrians especially activists. In an interview with BBC, Fadi Halisso founder of The Basmeh & Zeitooneh initiative said that “People are afraid to register with UNHCR as some names are leaked to Syrian authority and they afraid of retaliation if they go back home.” One Syrian refugee said that Lebanon is not safe for refugees because at this stage it is part of the regime.” Till today Lebanon refuse to recognize them as refugees, and in my opinion this is due to the fact that Lebanon is not totally free from the Syrian effect as Syrian regime’s well armed ally Hezbollah is in a struggle to tighten its grip on Lebanon. Adding insult to injury, on the 7th of April 2014 UN announced that it has to cut food rations to Syrians by %20 due to lack of donors funds.

Hearing this makes one wonder what to do if UN is unable to respond effeciently to this tragedy! There is still faith in the goodness of people.

I will end my article by the words of UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres when he said that Syria had become “a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history.”

 

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Picture: NY Times

 

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Hope Springs: Spring in Syria تباشير الأمل والربيع في سوريا

New photos of spring announcing its arrival to Damascus Countryside – Syria. Despite all the ugliness and despair, hope somehow finds a way.

الربيع يعلن عن قدومه ناشرا عبق الأمل في هواء غوطة دمشق. وعلى الرغم من اليأس والبشاعة الا أن الأمل يحشر نفسه بينهما.

 

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#Save_Aleppo

Yesterday, about 30 people were killed in TNT barrels attack frenzy by the Syrian regime in Aleppo, the biggest second city in Syria and used to be an industrial hub. The inhuman attacks by barrels, filled with TNT and metal scrap, take place daily targeting innocent civilians. Although all Syrian cities are shelled by different means of weapons, but Aleppo’s share are TNT barrels and cluster bombs. Damascus countryside’s share are poisonous gases and airstrikes.

Syrian activists started a campaign on twitter with hashtag #Save_Aleppo to show solidarity with the distressed city. You are urged to use this hashtag, just to show the world that we are not giving up.

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A mother watching flames eating her son as the place caught on fire after a TNT barrel attack

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Angelina Jolie visits Syria refugees

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMCpy_UeRYc

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Did You Ever Asked Yourself: How to Live?

Living like this is the worst reality nightmare I could stuck in.

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