VIRTUAL AGORAS: Artistic Video Activism in Syria
Location: IMPAKT Centre for Media Culture
On 26 June Impakt presents a reading and film program on the turbulent situation in Syria, seen from the perspective of political activists in artistic film productions.
In March 2011, at the peak of enthusiasm over the successful overthrow of Tunisia’s Zine El Abedine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and the so-called Arab Spring, Syrian citizens started taking to the streets to claim their freedom and civic rights. They were soon met with brutality and violence by the regime of Bashar Al-Assad.
Soon after the uprising against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, the government decided to seal off the country for foreign journalists. To keep the public inside and outside of the country informed, citizen journalists and activists began to document, reflect and comment on the unfolding events in the country through videos uploaded onto the Internet. These videos soon developed into an “informal news channel,” that often remained the only source of information about the unfolding events. Alongside videos documenting protests and the violent crackdown by the regime, creative videos comment on events, mock the state-controlled media, and reflect on the dreams and goals of the revolutionaries.
As the confrontation increased in violence, more and more artists began using their art as a means of activism and started uploading artistic declarations of solidarity with the uprising onto Internet platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. Using only the most basic technical equipment, the videos show a mix of different techniques, found footage, image distortion, animation and performance, the necessity of fast reaction being a distinctive feature of the final works. Due to repression, many artists have been forced to leave the country and now continue their artistic and activist projects from outside Syria.
Virtual Agoras is curated by Charlotte Bank. She is an independent researcher, curator and writer and lives in Berlin and Damascus. In 2010 she organised the Visual Arts Festival in Damascus, which now has a nomadic character. Bank collected and preserved videoworks of Syrian artists who are often forced to life in exile. On 26 June Bank will show various films and explain the relationship between the artistic and activist film productions and the political situation in Syria.