Bucharest Art Week 2017 was this year one of the few major international events from Romania, designed to promote the contemporary visual art that was accessible to the general public. Structured around the need of experiment, cultural exchange and dialogue between artists from European countries, especially from Central and Eastern Europe, Bucharest Art Week was intended to be a mix of artistic events that could be integrated in the tradition of other European capitals as Berlin , Basel, Vienna, Budapest , Lisbon and London that have already initiated and promoted by this type of art weeks.
Photography: Cristian Munteanu
The war correspondence theme is based on a series of questions about the role of the artist and the significance of the contemporary art in the current context of the war that shakes the Middle East and affects politically, administratively, socially and culturally all the countries in Europe.
The evening of 21st of October was dedicated to film and documentary photography and enjoyed the presence of Syrian filmmaker Abo Bakr of Haj Ali, Al Jazeera and Vice News collaborator.
Abo Bakr al Haj Ali is a Syrian photographer, cameraman and editor working in Jordan and southern Syria. His work focuses on the war in Daraa and Quneitra, both from the frontlines and looking at broader humanitarian issues.
He came in Romania to present to the audience in Bucharest, his documentary “The Boy who Started the Syrian War”. The Boy who started the Syrian Civil War offers a glimpse into life in Daraa since the start of the conflict.
We meet Syrians trying to lead normal lives through the chaos as well as those who have taken up arms against Assad’s forces.
Mouawiya Syasneh was just 14 when he sprayed anti-government slogans on his school wall in Deraa, Syria. It was February 2011, and he could never have imagined that such a minor act would spark a full-blown civil war.
More than half a million people have been killed in Syria since the start of the war. Mouawiya’s home city has been ravaged by street fighting, shelling and barrel bombing. The war has left scars that may never heal.
His life has been transformed. He has lost friends and relatives, including his father. Syria has been changed for ever. The documentary is not only a radiography of the tragedies that these people have to fight every day, but is a fight for the everyday life that became a continuous street of blood since 2011.
Abo Bakr al Haj Ali filmed in Syria more than half a year and risked his life every day to show the real life of the Syrian people. He presented to the journalists in Romania his life as a war journalist and also everything that he faced during the filming.
Abo Bakr al Haj Ali made films and features in several areas of war, especially on Syrian territories, at the beginning of the war and later in the years that followed. He currently lives and works in Jordan and has been a guide and interpreter for the trip made by the Romanian artists to Jordan and the Zaatari camp as part of the Bucharest Art Week 2017 Production, Documentation and Mobility Program.
Photography: Cristian Munteanu
From the Zaatari trip resulted the two exhibitions presented on the 21st of October at ARTHUB in Bucharest. Photographer Cristian Munteanu selected 12 photos from the Jordanian trip for the exhibition “Casa de langă Casă” (The House Near the House), while the rest of the artists presented the travel recordings in a documentary micro-exhibition called “Near Syria”.
“Casa de Lângă Casă” Exhibition – Cristian Munteanu
The exhibition included also photos and videos shooted by Cristina Iacob, Mugur Grosu, Nona Șerbănescu and Andrei Șerban, entitled “Aproape de Siria” (Close to Syria).
A day after the Photography Exhibition, on the 22nd of October 2017, Știrbey Palace in Bucharest hosted Syrian Sounds, Music for Peace, an event included under the same theme “War Correspondence” that intended to bring to the Bucharest public two nights of contemporary Syrian music.
The organizers wanted to support peace and to let the music be the voice of the Syrian people who, even though are going through a horrible tragedy, they don’t let their traditions and heritage be dimmed.
They showed to the public in Bucharest that, beyond their refugee status, the Syrian people are doctors, engineers, construction workers, business people, artists, first class musicians, people who were forced to leave their country because of a ruthless war, but they haven’t abandoned their professions or their dignity.
Feras Sarmini and Hasan Nasser closed Bucharest Art Week 2017 at Știrbei Palace with an evening of electroacoustic music mixing electronic music with violin, oud and lyra politiki. Voice: Noma Shkeir.
Isabel Allende once said that “We don’t even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward. In times of tragedy, of war, of necessity, people do amazing things. The human capacity for survival and renewal is awesome.”
They are the Fairytale People who make us to go forward, no matter what. Their tough, difficult, brave and fascinating stories about life, war, death, love, family, kindness and survival, change mentalities and destinies for ever.
The beautiful and emotional stories about these wonderful people, soon on www.fairytaletraveller.com.
Abo Bakr of Haj Ali, Cristian Munteanu, Nona Șerbănescu and the artists who performed during Bucharest Art Week 2017.