Arts & Culture: Syrian Painters Fight a 'Culture of Emptying'

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We accept all forms of art: plastic art, painting, sculpture, photography, contemporary art, video art and installations. We have a workshop for interactive theater, workshops for etching, and host art performances that bring people from all around the world to Alley to teach our artists. We have had artists come from Spain, New York, Germany.

One artist was Tunisian. His performance was held on the streets of Lebanon. He called it “Screaming”. He talked about how a person can be freed from his chains through colors and art. Another upcoming Syrian artist is from the Golan Heights, who will send us his videos from there because he can’t enter Lebanon with his passport. We are also coordinating with the refugee camps and are inviting the children to spend the day with our artists in Alley.

It is hard to integrate into society in Lebanon, but the Syrians came as a creative power and have created a big wave on the Beiruti scene. Many galleries are now opening featuring Syrian art, and our artwork has helped to breakdown the barriers of resentment so that the Lebanese, who have experienced their own conflicts, no longer only see Syrians as workers, soldiers, refugees and a burden on society.

In that way, we provide an intermediate place where we introduce Syrians into the Lebanese art scene. We help get people connected to galleries, organizations and people interested in their art, establish studios, help them make a new life for themselves, and shield them from the traditional barriers and exploitation of working for profit.

We have a lot of Lebanese friends who support us: four of our board members are Lebanese, we are now officially an NGO registered in Lebanon, and have received grants from several organizations.

I’ve seen a lot of misconceptions about Syria. People associate Syria with statistics: numbers of coffins, refugees, the displaced. I want the world to see Syria as a living nation, as people who have lots of talent and creativity, people who are resilient despite the difficulties. We need to keep showing the real talent in this generation that has lost everything.

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