Exhibition – Maps on our backs: Syrian stories

From Friday 14 til Sunday 16, April 2017.
Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), 234 St Kilda Rd, Southbank, Victoria, Australia 3006.

‘Maps on our backs: Syrian Stories’ will tell the stories of Syrians; both those who have been internally displaced and those who have been forced to flee.

Four artists, Miream Salameh painter and sculptor Firas Abdullah, Louai Barakat and Mohammed Abo Khaled photographers, reveal through their work the struggle and humanity of the many thousands of brave Syrians who are surviving through the wreckage of their country.

About the artists:

  • Miream Salameh

Born in Homs, Syria in 1983. When the Syrian Revolution broke out in 2011, Salameh was persecuted both as a revolutionary and visual artist.
Miream, with her friends, founded a magazine called العدالة (The Justice) in which they documented Assad’s abuses in the city of Homs. Due to her involvement in anti-government activism, she was forced to leave her homeland after regime forces made threats of rape, arrest and murder against her, looting and destroying most of her artwork. With her three remaining artworks, she travelled to Australia in 2013.
Miream’s artwork addresses issues of social justice, freedom and the suffering of the Syrian people, who are being violently oppressed for resisting dictatorship. She studied at the Fine Art Institute in Syria and practiced with the well known Syrian sculptor, Wael Kasstoun, for seven years. Miream has participated in many exhibitions in Syria and overseas, including four in Australia.
As well as her artwork and activism during the Great Syrian Revolution, she also studied interpreting and translation, and was finally able to receive her Advanced Diploma here in Australia.

  • Mohammed Abu Khaled

Mohammed is from the northern countryside of Homs, Syria.
Mohammed is a photographer as well as a student of English Literature in Homs, although he has been unable to complete his degree due to security issues at the university.
Since the Syrian Revolution began, the Assad regime has used all its power to try to crush it. In the face of this, Mohammed chose his camera as his weapon in order to document everything happening around him, both the bombs and the human suffering they leave behind. On one occasion, an air strike hit his house and destroyed it completely.
Through his photographs, Mohammed tries to tell the many stories of the Syrian people and make their voices heard across the seas and above the sound of the bombing.

  • Louai Barakat

Being forced to flee his city of Aleppo, Louai works as a photographer with the Live Images Agency in Turkey. He holds a degree in photography and is currently a student at the College of Commerce & Economics.
From the beginning of the Spring Syrian Revolution he has worked as a photographer, documenting life in his city – the peaceful demonstrations against Assad’s regime and the military’s violent response of gunfire and shelling.
He has been arrested three times in one year by the Syrian security forces on charges of attending demonstrations and distributing pamphlets. He was released in an exchange of prisoners. He was also arrested for 15 days by ISIS for carrying the Free Syrian flag?
Louai has been wounded many times since the beginning of the revolution as his city has been a primary target of air strikes by pro-government forces. Throughout this, he has continued to document the horrors and the life that continues in Aleppo and elsewhere throughout Syria.
“The phrase that I love and always repeat is this: my pen, my voice and the lens of my camera are more powerful than your gun.”

  • Firas Abdullah

I miss that Firas I was
A totally Normal high school guy, back to my house in Douma every day after study hours with parties and hanging out with friends and cousins with soccers in weekends…
I didn’t know then.. These were the last normal days in my life
In the beginning of 2011 all scenes over around us appears to the end of something, or something is gonna changing..
Revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Disturbing events in Libya and more iron hands by Syrian Government over us…
In 25-03-2011 the first anger fire flame had began by us in Douma.. all people who feel about that we must cut all unjust’s ropes..
The time of justice and dignity has began, It’s freedom call..
Ut’s The Revolution
And as usual..
We faced regime killers by using all weapons in that, but my weapon was my mobile phone camera trying to show the world what is really going on and how we got killed by Assad’s forces..
By the years our life has changed, my life so too.
2012, I have graduated from high school and registered electrical engineering in Damascus university, I was out of Douma, I have emigrated to the capital because of bombing on Douma and the Syrian army had broken in the city and killed who decided to stay inside there…
2013, I couldn’t stay in Damascus because of continuing arrests cases there, I back to Douma to help with defense of it, In Douma all my life has completely changed like the city and its people, it has been under control of FSA, I completely deppended on myself in everything and faced missiles and bullets in the firefronts against regime army who was always trying to get in Douma after it has been free in latest of December in 2012..
I used to see bloody scenes and whole destruction neighborhoods in reality as you used to see it on TV or social media sites, I used to hear airstrikes and bombs dropping, People say that if you see some scenes every day, it must be turn to be usual scenes for you.. that what I went through and get over that trying to continuing being able to train myself to be patient on that and on hard situations like siege..and also in sadly, I used to see and hear about losing my friends and cousins after I lost 20 members of my cousins and a lot of friends, who doesn’t dead, have left the country and little decided to stay like me
2014, I left FSA because I felt like I am a chess stone in hands in big bloody sneaky game, I back to my original way that I find myself on it in began, I back to media activity Iike I was in the middle of 2011 and developed myself for helping humanity in my city, until now I’m on this way and my camera is my weapon…
You can take our lifes, but you will never take our Freedom
This is a shortcut of my story of changing my life

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Exhibition, From Friday 14 til Sunday 16, April 2017

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