Conversations in the Midst of the Syrian Conflict: A Visual Response to the Syrian Conflict via the Domestic and Personal

  • Hala Georges

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


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 AwardMay 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton

Cite this