Syria Speaks: Art And Culture From The Frontline
Presentation of the book "Syria Speaks: Art And Culture From The Frontline" by leading Syrian writers and artists including Khaled Khalifa and Khalil Younes.
"This extraordinary collection says more about Syria than many months of newspaper reading has told me. It's a profound look into a dynamic and exciting culture in painful transition – a culture where artists are really stepping up to the plate and making a difference. You need to read this book." (Brian Eno)
Syria’s artists are leading the country’s resistance against tyranny. Rappers and chanters who lead the mass demonstrations, photographers, artists – working with diverse media from chalk and charcoal to digital media and installations - film-makers, cartoonists and writers are finding new voices to challenge the culture of violence in Syria.
Syria Speaks is the first book to provide a window on Syrian creativity since the uprising, showcasing the work of over 50 artists and writers. Syria Speaks includes internationally renowned artists and writers, such as Ali Ferzat, Samar Yazbek, Khaled Khalifa and Robin Yassin-Kassab. As Malu Halasa and Zaher Omareen write in their introduction, ‘Creativity is not only a way of surviving the violence, but of challenging it’.
These artists are giving a voice to a society that had been silenced by forty years of dictatorship. Just as during the first year of the uprising, walls which once bore pictures of Bashar and Hafez al-Assad, were transformed by graffiti artists. Here we see artists carving out an area of life - expression and imagination – one that is not controlled by the state or other factions. And increasingly citizen journalists (who have posted over 300,000 videos online), amateur artists and ordinary villagers have been joining Syria’s cultural frontline.
Syria Speaks shows how these artists and writers have been finding new and creative ways to spread their ideas, often relying on a mixture of lowtech (such as chalk drawings, posters, even finger puppets which are easy to smuggle through checkpoints) and social and digital media. Art is not without its risks. Many artists pay a tragically high price. Ibrahim Qashoush, the chanter-songwriter of the revolutionary anthem, ‘Come on Bashar, Get Out!’ was brutally murdered. 17 out of the 35 works in this book are by Syrians still living in Syria. Many within the country act anonymously, for instance as the citizen photographers working under the umbrella ‘Lens Young’ photographic collectives that take their name from the cities they operate in, for example, ‘Lens Young’ Homsi – Homs – or ‘Lens Young’ Dimashqi – Damascus.
Syria Speaks is a celebration of the cultural flowering of a people who are determined to reclaim their dignity, freedom, and self-expression. Moving, often harrowing but always inspiring, Syria Speaks opens a window on the courage, creativity and imagination of the Syrian people. With its black humour, expressive creative writing and acute memoir and observation, the anthology is a testament to the power of culture during conflict.