Laboratory of Arts / Artists Support Program – 5th Edition

About The Programme

The  Artist Support Programme - Laboratory of Arts is a programme being launched by Ettijahat- Independent Culture, in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut. It directs its focus at artists and cultural organisations, and seeks to create a supportive and free environment for creative practices, responding to new possibilities as they emerge. It also aims to empower artists and organisations, enabling them to accomplish and develop their creativity through a substantial grants scheme, within the following artistic formats:

  • Cinema and Animation
  • Theatre, Dance, and Performance Art
  • Creative Writing
  • Visual Arts, including Fine Arts, Installations, and Graphic Design
  • Music

The programme is aimed at artists and existing initiatives in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and Turkey, as well as countries of refuge and exile in Europe; responding to the developments of the cultural landscape and the current locations of artists. This will be achieved through the provision of 15 grants, each up to $10,000 in the cinema and theatre categories and $6,000 in other categories.


Fifth edition grantees

Cinema and Animation

Amer Matar – Plastic Flowers

A documentary film about an ongoing search for a journalist kidnapped in ISIS jails since August 2013. His family is trying to know his fate, living with the bitterness of enforced disappearance. The family uses a set of cameras during its search to depict the stories it witnesses in the Syrian city of Raqqa and ISIS prisons there. The family also depicts its escape to Turkey first and then to Germany, and its later search inside Raqqa after ISIS left the city.

Nadim Suliman – Family at War

A documentary about the life of a young Syrian expatriate who falls in love with an older Polish lady and plans to marry her. He is faced with his family's rejection of this marriage and is forced to return to Syria to confront his relatives, only to discover that the family is still living under old conflicts. The young man makes the same choices made by his father and grandfather in the past, which had led to these conflicts and divided the family.

The young man is forced to choose between making an eternal bond with the woman he loves, or refraining from doing so to avoid an escalation of the war in the family, which runs parallel to the war in the country.

Zeina Qahwaji – Crystal House

A long documentary film that records the diaries of an elderly couple during seven years of uprising and war in Syria. It is an observation of the diaries of this couple who are deeply rooted in the place where they live and are trying to continue their same routine of life despite the daily great challenges that are going on at the threshold of their home.

Mohamed Aref Haj Youssef – Al-Maari's Head

A documentary film accompanying the journey of the Syrian plastic artist Asim Al-Basha as he sculpts the head of Al-Maari for the second time, after he had previously created the same head in the early eighties as a gift for a doctor who treated a member of his family. The film also documents the artistic and personal journey of the Syrian artist who lost his artworks in Syria, witnessed the killing of his brother under torture and experienced exile from his country, which he may never see again.

The two previous projects received the grant jointly.


Visual Arts

Randa Maddah – Restoration

A visual installation that is trying to answer the question: How can I understand the destruction? This work is an attempt to look at memory and its relation to a place and its changes. It sheds light on how the ruins, borders, walls and checkpoints that have changed the map and shape of a place and transformed the lives and language of the people have become semi-normal walls that try absurdly to restore what cannot be restored. It exposes how memory fails to retrieve pre-ruin memories, where all that is left is fragile breakable shards in an attempt to find the self.

Samer Roumani – Survival Struggle

An exhibition of sculptural works in an expressive style executed in different materials and sizes (wood, stone, bronze, metal formation). The buffalo is the main element in this collection, on which the artist bestows expressive movements to indicate the conflict with reality as part of an attempt to survive and cling to life and place. This creates balance in the work and its movement in the space where it exists.

Fadi Alhamwi – White Gold

A performance work and installation, White Gold is based on the re-creation of cement bricks produced in Syria, using white sugar instead of cement. The concept of "sugar bricks" expresses the psychological, moral and material dilemma that many Syrians face in their countries of asylum. It is also linked to the organic formation of the human body, which is exploited by capitalist and industrial countries. Sugar and its use in "construction", aesthetically show contradictions in the essence of sugar as a material, i.e. the harshness of its form and the sweetness of its taste. This "sweetness" expresses a sublime past due to the history of sugar itself.


Creative Writing

Hanan Kabreteh – Madam Izoglin

A collection of stories shedding light on the experience of integration into Turkish society and the attempts to build bridges with the new society. The stories shed light on the different, diverse, and convergent traditions and customs of the two societies based on historical documents and events. It highlights the forms of new relationships that may have been formed from the simplest resources available, which might be as simple as a warm soup dish.

Reber Yousef – Voice of the Absent

A literary book that takes the form of testimonies documenting the life of a group of deaf and mute who were born in Syria and lived there until the revolution and war. Each member of this group faces their respective fate separately. Finally, they emigrate to Germany. The book sheds light on some of the questions and answers that pass through the minds of the deaf and the mute in revolutions and wars. It is an identity through which they know themselves and present themselves to similar people in the world. Finally, we come to the question of: How do those who have no voice or cannot hear live during revolutions and wars?

Waseem Alsharqi – Black

A novel that deals with the life story of Mohammed Aswad (Mohammed Black), a sewing worker who lived in Damascus until he was forced to flee Syria for criminal reasons at the end of 2010. In his new country, the memories he left behind chase him as a burden that is impossible to escape. The news of uprising in the country overlap with his memories to create a special psychological world that turns in some moments into an unrealistic world.



Eyad Osman – Shamaliyat

A musical album that presents diverse works inspired by the folk and cultural fabric of the northern region of Syria, where Bezek instrument is prominent in performing the melodies on the background of rich rhythms made by the Bezek and the diversity of different styles. The album highlights the popular instruments of each region and contributes to introducing Bezek in a new light, away from solo performance only. In this album, Bezek is accompanied by different and diverse harmonies. The album also contributes to the integration of the Syrian folk music in international music.

Ali Asaad – Nabatie

An album of contemporary Syrian poems that are sung by the Syrian singer Basma Jabr. The poems are by poets Adnan al-Oudeh, Hani Nadim and Mousab al-Numeiri. The name of the album is inspired by the Arab peoples that inhabited the Petra region and who spoke a language that links the ancient Semitic languages ​​with the present Arabic language. It is a journey to explore rhythms and instruments inspired by oriental music. The songs cover many of the dialects of the Greater Syria region, in harmony with the various styles of oriental music, all of which speak the single oriental musical tongue.

Youssef Kekhia – Monologue

An album of Arabic songs that combines Western folk music with electronic music. The album reflects the artist's perspective on his own life and on global themes on this earth. It discusses and poses questions about the idea of ​​nationalities and borders on this earth that is supposed to be for everyone. Monologue is the artist's monologue with himself as he struggled with the experiences of illness, hope, love and happiness.


Theater and Performance Arts

Rama Haydar – People of Love

A play that examines the crisis of identity and alienation by addressing the story of the dull life of Dr. Nabil and his wife Nada, which lacks any interesting events. The couple remain alone in their new sanctuary after being displaced from their city of Damascus during the war. The project seeks to shed light on the current social reality in the countries of asylum and to portray the state of misery and intellectual slack that has affected us all. The play seeks to address social issues, including unconscious conflicts between social classes, through polarizations that we observe among the characters.

School of Dramatic Arts – Harsh Lesson

A play which aims to transform the stage into a psychological laboratory, in which viewers face a vivid experience to detect the source and causes of violence and cruelty. Four characters from the Faculty of Psychology (a professor, an assistant and two students) subject themselves with cold nerves to an intense experience that examines the relationship between loyalty and obedience and justifying the inhuman acts of man. The play put to the test new/old questions such as: Is obedience that causes the pain to others justified? Can crimes committed in the name of values, religion or humanity be justified?! All these and other questions are raised by the play on the backdrop of a maze of love relationships that bind the characters.

Koon Theater – The Other Side of the Garden

A play based on the novel "The Story of a Mother" by the novelist Hans Christian Andersen, which tells the story of a mother who goes behind the king of death to retrieve her son, and loses her voice, hair, and eyes during the trip. All this sacrifice comes to no avail, and she cannot save her son. We see this radical transformation of the mother in her journey, which is similar to the transformation of man in war. The play focuses on loss, sacrifice, and the story of death or the story of man as a creation destined to die.

Omar Bakbook – Kordelo Shadow

A multimedia play that seeks to transcend the geographical boundaries of theater by combining two artistic forms: the shadow theater and selfie video. The show simulates the isolation that the Syrians live wherever they are, whether in prisons or in the besieged areas inside Syria or even the isolation of exile countries imposed by borders and papers.

The two previous projects received the grant jointly.


Jury Committees in the fifth edition:

Cinema and Animation: Raed Andoni (Palestine), Talal Derki (Syria), Hala Lotfy (Egypt)

Visual Arts: Sulafa Hejazi (Syria), Issam Kourbaj (Syria), Najlaa El-Ageli (Libya / England)

Creative Writing: Rasha Al-Ameer (Lebanon), Taha Adnan (Morocco), Adel Mahmoud (Syria)

Music: Racha Rizk (Syria), Issa Boulos (Palestine), Hisham Gabr (Egypt)

Theater and Performance Arts: Jalila Baccar (Tunisia), Hala Omran (Syria), Khaled Bengharib (Morocco)


For the third year, Ettijahat is collaborating with Mamdouh Adwan Publishing House, which will support the printing and publishing of literary texts of projects supported in the creative writing category.


To read the Frequently Asked Questions about the program, please click on the file below:

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