Syria off Frame, contemporary art beyond the clichès

Work by 140 artists collected by the Benetton Foundation

11 March, 23:35

    Syria off frame - Osama Diab Syria off frame - Osama Diab

     ROME - Fares Cachoux paints the face of Isis in a militiaman whose dark features appear to combine human and animal similarities together. The painter is one of the best known Syrian contemporary artists and one of 140 from his country, devastated by five years of war, who took part in the collection "Syria off Frame," Syria outside of picture frames but also outside the more usual 'narratives,' that is part of the Imago Mundi project of the Benetton Foundation.

    The artist, like the others, sent through an informal network of friendship and contacts between Syria, Lebanon and Italy, his artwork measuring strictly 10 cm x 12 cm, exactly the format of work commissioned by Luciano Benneton for his project to create, with around 18,000 artists from nearly 100 countries, "a visual map of human culture".

    But Syria is a special country. The curator, Donatella Della Ratta, knows this very well after spending four years in Damascus as a researcher before the repression of the 2011 revolt led to an endless tragedy. She patiently set up the "human chain" that reached the artists and brought back their works.

    They are artists who still live and "resist" in Syria (about 30 of them), or who have left it a short time ago to join the diaspora of refugees and Syrians in exile in the Middle East and Europe. Their work, collected between March and May 2015 and in part exhibited at the recent Imago Mundi show at the Cini Foundation in Venice, is now part of a catalogue just presented at the Foreign Press Association building in Rome at a conference attended by former Italian foreign minister Emma Bonnino.

    The former EU commissioner described the collection as "a very powerful hymn to the wish to live". She noted the disgrace of the conditions many of these artists are in as "refugees" and the current European policy on the migrants crisis -- a policy that, with the agreement being defined in detail between Ankara and Brussels, violates the Geneva conventions, she underlined, and forgets that the EU was created on the pillars of the state of law, that it now is betraying with the result that it is losing credibility completely.

    But the black theat of Isis hardly appears in the creations of the other Syria off Frame artists, on the contrary.

    There is a creativity that wants to "get out of the picture," extract itself from the dominant images of the Syrian drama to recount "other" -- in particular the permanence of a civil society that in some cases, the chronicles recount, celebrated the precarious cease-fire of these weeks by going on the streets and repeating the old slogans of the brief 2011 revolt.

    But on whose side are these artists in the chaotic fighting between armies and Jihadist millitias that is recounted in Syria today? "They are part of civil society like us that is neither on one side or the other," replies Donatella Della Ratta. And she outlines some of the authors of the collection -- from Khinda HIbrahi, who recalls the 2013 chemical attack in Damascus, to Randa Maddah, who tells us about the occupied Golan Heights and Mohammed Orabi included in the list of the most influential arab thinkers, but "who like all the others never asked who else was taking part in the project".

    Evidently there are no ranks or venerability that count for anything in the Syria that still resists with the language of art. 

    © Copyright ANSA - All rights reserved

    Business opportunities

    The information system of business
    opportunities abroad

    News from Mediterranean