Bemojake is pleased to invite you to Calm Before the Storm, a discussion with photographer Tim Smyth, artist Ibrahim Fakhri and writer Malu Halasa on Wednesday 25th February at the P21 Gallery.
During the 2011-12 Arab Spring, Bashar al-Assad’s tyrannical reign over the Syrian people came to a head. Through media coverage, albeit restricted, it was made clear to the world that Syrians were being oppressed by a dictator, under the guise of a reformation. The conflict in Syria has instigated writers and artists to create literature and visual culture that challenges preconceptions of freedom and self-expression under the al-Assad regime. Smyth and Fakhri will present and discuss work that was created during their time in Damascus between 2008 and 2011.
Calm Before the Storm will address how the public landscape in Syria is subject to the al-Assad regime’s propaganda images, which have been appropriated by Syrian artists and citizens in order to undermine the violent regime. Mediated by Halasa, the event will intend to open a dialogue around the conflict whilst introducing work created during these turbulent years. Smyth and Fakhri will reflect on their individual practices whilst considering the future of cultural aesthetics of defiance in Syria.
Tim Smyth is a British born photographer who graduated from the London College of Communications. His work The al-Assad Campaign, Damascus 2008, (Bemojake, 2014) is a collection of photographs taken one year after al-Assad’s re-election. They document street scenes and everyday life in Damascus from an outsider’s perspective. His work was exhibited in the Publish / Curate exhibition at TJ Boulting in London, 2014.
Ibrahim Fakhri is an Oxford-based Syrian artist and curator, he is primarily concerned with civil activism in Syria and the Middle East. His work directly references the protest slogans and political graffiti used by the Syrian people in order to undermine the brutality of the regime. His stencil work was commissioned as part of the Disobedient Objects exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Malu Halasa is a curator and writer and has recently co-edited Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, (Saqi Books, 2014). She has co-curated three exhibitions of Syria’s art of resistance in London, Amsterdam and Copenhagen in 2012 and 2013.