With devastating allegations that the Syrian government was responsible for chemical attacks on more than three hundred of its own citizens this past August and nightly news reports detailing the atrocities of civil war, the world casts its collective eye on Syria. Political pundits and laymen alike argue whether the US should step in and take military action.
Syria is more than a land of strife. Its capital, Damascus, is reportedly the oldest continuously inhabited city in the entire world.
From the bible, we know Damascus as the place where Paul was converted to Christianity. By the nineteenth century, Syria significantly contributed to the literature of the Arab world. Today, Damascus has an influential music scene. Syria’s contemporary art speaks to this rich culture as well as its atrocities.
Art preserves history. It is a visual lens through which we can better understand the socio-political milieus that have gone before us and that we live through today. Artists are particularly tuned into the world around them. They interpret what they see through paintings, photography, sculpture, cartoons, and collage, and in turn we may come to understand issues pertaining to religion, the economy, gender, and power through their civilian eyes. Their images may reach us in ways that words—particularly that of news reports—cannot.
Read more of my art post “8 Contemporary Syrian Artists to Know” on Burnside Writers Collective.