RELOADING IMAGES Damascus: Work in Progress 2008
- RELOADING IMAGES Damascus is an interdisciplinary artistic research platform. It invited artists and scholars from Syria and abroad to discuss and explore ways of artistic practice and collaboration, based on an interactive exchange of experiences, ideas, know-how and tools of production and self-organisation.
- RELOADING IMAGES Damascus explores and questions the roles, potentials and results of artistic production and approaches its questions with a vocabulary that goes beyond the generalities of divisions and polarisations. As a project based on the cooperation of artistic groups and institutions on an international scale, RELOADING IMAGES Damascus provides an open platform and network for an interdisciplinary dialogue, as well as for future collaborations to emerge. RELOADING IMAGES initiated a similar project in Tehran and Berlin in 2007, taking place as a work-in-progress, three-week workshop in both cities. RELOADING IMAGES Damascus builds up on these previous experiences and is developed through the collaboration of Syrian and international participants.
- RELOADING IMAGES Damascus is a 10-month long project: starting in March 2008, the participants work collectively on the form and content of the project. In October 2008 they came together for a 3 week workshop in Damascus. In April 2009, the results of the project are published in printed form.
- RELOADING IMAGES Damascus does not have one single theme. Instead, it aims to reflect on the complexity of the circumstances and interrelations in which the project is located: the cultural, social, and economical aspects – as well as the location of the individual – within these structures. The following questions are a starting point for discussion:
(1) Art and social relevance: under which circumstances is art an option? In what forms can art initiate and participate in social discourses?
(2) Image and representation: how can concepts of visual culture be re-thought – through images?
(3) Urban space as a subconscious system: how do the historical layers, the narrative traditions, and the social affiliations of daily life interact and create a sense of cultural identity?
(4) Beyond exoticism and xenophobia: in what ways does a system based on categorisation lead to (potentially unnatural) polarizations – for example, east/west, inclusion/exclusion, centre/periphery? Where are the subtler points of transition in between?
- Starting in March 2008 the Syrian participants met and exchanged ideas, personal interests, experiences and interpretations based on these questions. Through an online community website, they engaged in a continuous discourse with the participants from abroad.
- Throughout the course of the project, the participants formed working groups in which they researched and collaborated on self-initiated, specific themes, hoping to find a means of expression that goes beyond the gallery context, while exploring alternative, sustainable forms and approaches to contemporary art practices.
- During the workshop, the working groups presented their intermediate results in artistic and theoretical presentations to each other and at times, to the public. A final publication will conclude the project.