The news shows us what we already know about the war in Syria and, in fact,
any conflict in the Middle East, insofar as it resorts to familiar forms of news
reportage. Typically, this can be a stream of constant violent war imagery,
which in turn creates a distance between the viewer and the tragedy itself,
thus producing a feeling of detachment and indifference - the familiar
‘compassion fatigue’.(Moeller, 1999)
The research looks at developing a counter-point to the mainstream media
by bringing to light some of the hidden histories of the affected Syrian people.
Small histories are told by way of monologues, testimonies, and informal
interviews with a known circle of participants. People who lived or are living
with the conflict day-to-day, a group consisting of my mother, sisters,
nephews, nieces and a few friends. My experience as a Syrian living outside
the conflict, my relationships to the participants, and my travel to the country
during this time of war are all considered as inspiring material, which both
constrain and focus the topic under discussion. This participant-observer
methodology incorporation with gathering material from inside the conflict
enriched the research findings and pushed it towards an informing
exploration of the ever-changing distance between myself and the topic.
The project refuses to be another Middle Eastern art cliché. It enjoys qualities
of inventive, and at once truthful, documentary practice. It embraces a
personal and domestic perspective, looking through the eyes of those whom
are living the conflict. At the same time, I adopt a compassionate response
that seeks to engage the viewer’s sympathy, not their anger. Consequently, I
investigate the ethical issues of war images and argue against the use of
violent images. To inform and inspire the practice, I investigate relevant Syrian
and Middle Eastern art to position the project within the contemporary Middle
Eastern home-related art.
These research steps led to a number of hybrid mixes of documentary and
experimental short videos. The practice is supported by a number of
illustrations – as additional material - which has been created when it wasn’t
at all possible to gather material from Syria.
The written thesis informs and supports the creative component, while the
practice stands as a creative version of the written research and findings. The
thesis also provides a reflective commentary on how the practice came to be,
the difficult circumstances behind its production and the passage it took
before it was finally realised.
|Date of Award||May 2016|