Beyond the Now: Socially Engaged Art in a (Dis)Connected World

Create Syria: A Space to Explore Arts and Social Change | Fourth Edition Result


Participants in the Digital Workshops

Juan Delgado | Samer Ibrahim | Abeer Sanyour | Ghaith Hasan

Fawaz Hassoun | Noura Alsouma | Maya Rihawi & Salwa Arsalan 

Ward Alkhalaf | Yara Amayri | Yassin Almsallakh


Commissioned Projects

Art Tent - Samer Ibrahim

The project seeks to be an artistic, cultural, and social platform targeting those wishing to develop their artistic tools and display them to the audience of the Art Tent. The project not only works with talented artists, both professional and amateur, but proposes to engage people who believe in the role of the arts in creating spaces for communication, encounter, and dialogue. This is not only a primary project objective but a fundamental component. The fragmentation that communities suffer because of the multiple tragedies impacting humanity, which have enriched the world with tools for both real and virtual communication, all the while creating a very disconnected world, is what led us to think of the Art Tent as a space without restrictions or walls. Our house allows the fresh air of the arts to penetrate our souls and minds before reaching our bodies.

My Grandmother's Quilt – Noura Alsouma

There is always a strong bond between grandmothers and grandchildren, and the stories told before bedtime are always the most beautiful and well-kept in people's memory. This scene of the voice of the person closest to the child's heart and the beginning of a new journey through the imagination creates life's simplest and most cherished moments. The idea of the project is to build this experience anew to preserve the inherited repertoire and honor all the grandmothers who encouraged child imagination and those who have never felt this pleasure. The project is to choose, visualize, and photograph a story and then weave it on canvas to become a canvas of inherited tales.

Prova: A Scene From Memory – Maya Rihawi and Salwa Arslan

The rehearsal (or "prova") is a moment/place to start, an invitation to work with a group of artists with different and diverse views and artistic tools within safe spaces of experimentation. Through this, we share our human experiences and the images preserved in our memory, specifically those associated with violence we have witnessed, through a methodology based on the re-composition, analysis, dismantling, and criticism of these images to alleviate their impact as a source of tension and an obstacle to action, and transport them to a situation worth contemplating aesthetically, and thus becoming the seed of an artistic project shared between the project author and those who participated in rehearsals. Rehearsals are also specific to the community surrounding the group and initiate a fundamental question about how these memories and images bring us together and encourage/unite us as human beings and as artists and artists against the violence that created them.

I am the Conscience of the Speaker – Fawaz Hassoun

"Torch Children" is a popular term used by the media to describe groups of street children addicted to smelling fluids used to light torches, among other drugs. The project works with a group of these children and a community aiming to find new ways of living. By transporting the street into an enclosed space through movement and sound, the performing arts and interactive theatre approach are utilized to change this community, hopefully to a new phase in which dignity and freedom are more prevalent.

Return to Tenderness – Juan Delgado

A creative project with a group of young people from Raqqa. Through collaboration, we will trace this city's musical and intangible heritage by the Euphrates. We will establish trustful relationships with local musicians and singers from the old generation using digital technology and inclusive methodology. We will interview and record their music and stories, what inspired them, and how they connect their music with the oral heritage of their community. The project aims to create long-term intergenerational relationships, with young people becoming actively engaged in the recording of the stories from the elders, and through the use of digital technology, provide an opportunity for this community to change the perception of how others see them.


Projects Participating in a Residency with Arts University Plymouth - UK

Urban Tableaux – Yara Amayri

A peculiar and interactive space, reviving its celebratory memory and historical significance. The idea of the project is to highlight the identity of the space and the role of art in social development, as it calls for the preservation of cultural property and the urban characteristics of the modern era by reviving the authentic image of the targeted area, documenting it, and highlighting it as a local art school, and a reflection of the shift between the social life in the old city and the modern urban context in its various elements. The project also aims to protect this style as one of the identifiers of the city of Damascus and to consider it as a base for the contemporary identity of the city that reflects its cultural and societal values. By transforming its walls into a work of art and an interactive incubator for cultural and social activities, the city's tableaux revive the concept of the festival and the social implications of seasonal celebrations by activating the spaces utilized for various events and organizing them to accommodate various events and artistic performances.

Public Baths – Abeer Sanyour

Souk Baths - an interactive space is aiming to document the oral history of daily life in Syria before and after the war in a series of videos documenting encounters inside public baths. The baths were chosen as an interactive space that has been known since ancient times to contain narratives and tales and has welcomed all people and embraced the country's musical heritage. This concept is revived through an interactive video series that includes a flashback approach to revive this heritage within an urban-social space and transmit it to future generations through the older ones.

Jury Committee Statement

Following the first online workshop designed within the fourth edition of Create Syria, participating projects authors completed a second application form for an advanced selection round which aims to identify five projects to be commissioned for implementation, and receive mentorship and financial support, and two projects to participate in a residency with one of this year's programme partners, Arts University Plymouth in the UK, which is an independent, arts university run by artists and designers. The application form focused on their relationship with the artistic practices of their choice, the key questions brought about from the experimentation process, the artist’s own position within the project and their team, and the more practical steps towards achieving the project. These axes were highlighted in the second application in connection to the concepts and exercises outlined in the workshop, and the discussions that were brought up during the sessions in relation to the development of socially-engaged artistic projects. With this in mind, the selection criteria in the second stage looked at the artistic potential of the project as a creative outcome, its feasibility on the ground and budget, and its relationship with the targeted community. The three remaining projects will continue their participation in the programme alongside their peers through a second online workshop designed in partnership with Mozilla Festival, and receive specialized support for the partial development of their proposals.

About Create Syria

Create Syria seeks to increase the capacity of artists interested in arts and social change, to develop stronger, more cohesive communities through the design and delivery of community arts initiatives that focus on experience and artistic quality. Create Syria supports individuals and initiatives to build new skills, grow their experience and network with creative practitioners interested in the relationship between arts and community practices.

Throughout three editions, Create Syria supported more than 47 artists and cultural practitioners (39 Male and 8 Female) in producing and developing more than 20 socially engaged creative interventions in Lebanon, Syria, France, and Germany. The programme also hosted several forums and webinars, gathering programme participants and more than 300 creative practitioners around the questions of communities and the roles that art can play in times of crises.

See links to Create Syria and Arts and Uncertainty

*The Beyond the Now partners are based in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Lebanon/Belgium and Amsterdam. Comprising small to medium arts organisations and educational institutions: Ettijahat Independent Culture (Beirut and Brussels), co-culture (Berlin), CREATE (Ireland), and Counterpoints Arts, (UK) in addition to individual researchers working at the Open University and Plymouth College of Art (UK) and the Mozilla Festival (London/Amsterdam).

Websites of project partners:

Ettijahat – Independent Culture
Counterpoints Arts
Plymouth College of Art
Mozilla Festival

* Beyond the Now is a syndicated online platform, founded by partners working in locations across Europe and the Mena region. It aims to open new creative, cultural and political affinities for a post-pandemic world; and to amplify the necessity for and experience of solidarity in a time of crisis. Beyond the Now was established during Covid-19 (May 2020) with the goal of creating greater solidarity and collaboration between organisations and individuals working within the interdisciplinary field of social art practice.

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