MEI Art Gallery Presents In this Moonless Black Night: Syrian Art After the Uprising

By Editorial Team on March 1, 2021
Khaled Barakeh, I Haven’t Slept for Centuries, 2018 Digital print on paper, aluminum frame. Courtesy of artist.
Timed Visits and Online Opening: Thursday, March 4 2021

The Middle East Institute (MEI) Arts and Culture Center is proud to announce the opening of In this Moonless Black Night: Syrian Art After the Uprising on Thursday, March 4, 2021. Marking the 10-year anniversary of the Syrian uprising, the exhibition, which runs through Wednesday, May 26, 2021, showcases leading Syrian contemporary artists whose works explore the conflict, trauma, and hope of the past decade through the  experiences of ordinary Syrians.

Curated by New York-based writer and researcher, Maymanah Farhat, the exhibition’s 14 featured artists reflect on the wide scale destruction of the country and the plight of its displaced through painting, multimedia, photography, video, and installation. In the process, their work helps shape our understanding of the conflict, from the peaceful start of the uprising to the current humanitarian crisis.

“The exhibit features some of the most prominent contemporary Syrian artists working today. Their works offer a range of perspectives around themes of dissent, loss, trauma, survival, memory, displacement and migration,” said curator Farhat. “But what is perhaps most powerful is their emphasis on the lives of the people affected by the conflict, for in their stories, and in the artists’ stories, one sees that ordinary Syrians are committed to building a better future, and that culture is where hope resides.”

The 14 featured artists are Azza Abo Rebieh, Hiba Al Ansari, Ammar al-Beik, Nour Asalia, Tammam Azzam, Khaled Barakeh, Bady Dalloul,  Oroubah Dieb, Osama Esid, Lara Haddad, Mohamed Hafez, Nagham Hodaifa, Essma Imady, Kevork Mourad.

Half of the featured artists left Syria during the revolution. The other half emigrated prior or were born abroad.  Based in Lebanon, Germany, France and the U.S., the presented artists have experimented with diverse imagery and media to convey the magnitude and complexity of the past decade. In doing so, they have taken a long and rich history of Syrian art in new directions that were unforeseeable before the start of the uprising.

“The show transcends Syria. Through their work, the artists are telling a universal story of struggle and hope and of the human cost for the pursuit of justice and freedom,” said Lyne Sneige, Director of MEI’s Arts and Culture Center.

The exhibit will be accompanied by panel talks featuring the artists and curator, as well as film screenings of Syrian films and documentaries in collaboration with the Syrian production house, Bidayyat based in Beirut, Lebanon. MEI’s Syria program will be hosting policy programs to mark the anniversary, including a major policy conference on March 15, 2021.

The title of the exhibition is adapted from a poem by the late Syrian poet Da’ad Haddad (1937-1991)

The show will be on view from March 5, 2021 through May 26, 2021 via timed appointments at the MEI Art Gallery at 1763 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20007 and online.

For more information visit: www.mei.edu/arts-culture . Join the conversation with @meiartsculture on Twitter and @middleeastinst on Instagram using the hashtag #MEIArtGallery.