Syrian Artists Fight Assad Regime With Satire
With horrors emerging from Syria’s civil war with numbing regularity, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that the uprising has not been waged only with guns.
A creative and resolutely non-violent form of opposition to Bashar al-Assad’s regime has taken hold in Syria, as the country’s artists respond to the crisis with newfound boldness and purpose, despite the clear dangers in doing so.
“Since the uprising, the artists have broken through the wall of fear in Syria and are thinking in another way,” said Syrian journalist Aram Tahhan, one of the curators of an exhibition on Syria’s creative dissent — Culture in Defiance — currently on display in Amsterdam.
“The uprising has changed the artists’ thinking about the task of art in society, how they can do something useful for society,” said Tahhan. “They have rewritten everything.”
Since the uprising, the artists have broken through the wall of fear in Syria
Syrian journalist Aram Tahhan, one of the curators of “Culture in Defiance”
With works spanning from painting to song to cartoons, puppet theater to graffiti to plays, the exhibition traces the way that Syrian artists have used a range of creative techniques within traditional and new media to create political, populist art that that both brooks “the red line” of dissent and engages the public in unprecedented ways.
The regime is well aware of the power of visual images and art to mobilize public opinion, says Tahhan. After all, the uprising began when schoolchildren in Daraa were arrested for painting anti-government graffiti on the walls of a school last year.
“From the beginning the regime has known it’s dangerous to use the image, to use art,” said Tahhan. “The camera is the equal of any weapon from the point of view of the regime.”