Third Space: Syria will showcase the work of artist Zaher Omareen, in an attempt to raise awareness of those affected by conflict
A Syrian artist will depict the horrors of war in his debut Belfast exhibition.
London-based artist Zaher Omareen will bring his work, Third Space: Syria, to the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s this week (Wednesday, January 13).
Featuring 11 short films, the exhibition aims to show the effects of conflict both in Syria and elsewhere, and demonstrate the role that artists play in supporting recovery and resilience.
The emotive short films are based on footage found on YouTube or from Zaher’s friends in Syria, and are interwoven with stories, poems and music, to give a voice to those affected, as well as give a glimpse into the day to day life of people in war-torn countries. Shown on loop, the films leave the viewer with different opinions depending on when they start watching.
Explaining the exhibition, Zaher said: “The show compiles a collection of stories, including mine, from living in Syria under a dictatorship. I am trying to show through the films, the experiences which people are living through in Syria right now.
“The exhibition is not only about Syria, it is about the effects of any war and dictatorship on the people who live through it. Something I hope the audiences in Belfast will relate to.”
The exhibition is part of a wider British Council project, co-curated by Lois Stonock and Alma Salem, which through 30 works of films and photography, explores the roles that artists play in responding to conflict and displacement. This exhibition is the third in the series and has been created as part of ‘Artists in Recovery’, British Council Culture and Development programme.
Speaking about Third Space:Syria was curator, Lois Stonock.
She said: “Zaher’s show presents differing viewpoints from Syria and the consequences of war on people living in the country. Artists provide important and alternative views to that we see in the press and help to build a nuanced understanding of the effects of war. Zaher’s films give us an insight into his experiences and the experiences of others.”
According to Graham Sheffield, Director of Arts, British Council, these exhibitions are vitally important for the long term stability of Syria.
He recently said: “The overall aim of this work is clear: through arts and culture, civil society is strengthened from the ground up; marginalised people are able to express themselves freely and advocate for their rights successfully.
“Nowhere is this work more valuable than in the responding to the Syrian crisis - during which over 40% of the Syrian population has been displaced: over 7.6 million people inside Syria and 3.7million in neighbouring countries - making Syrians the largest refugee population in the world.
“Whilst the British Council cannot have a physical presence in the country at present we are committed to supporting the people of Syria through the provision of schemes such as this, as well as through access to English language learning and civil society projects. “
Third Space:Syria runs at the Naughton Gallery from January 13 until Wednesday, February 10. Admission is free.