Culture in Defiance

defi_333Continuing Traditions of Satire, Art and the Struggle for Freedom in Syria is an event organised by the Prince Claus Fund, Netherlands, 4th June to 23rd November. The event features a conversation with the cartoonist Ali Ferzat and one of the exhibition’s curators Malu Halasa, and a performance by Syrian dancer and choreographer Eyas AlMokdad.

In a season of Arab springs, the pointedly perceptive cartoons by the Syrian artist Ali Ferzat have greater relevance than ever before. His drawings and caricatures transcend barriers of language and nationality and encourage new insights into the abuse of power, corruption of state control and aspirations for freedom.

In 2002 Ali Ferzat was awarded a Prince Claus Award in recognition of the way he fused artistic creativity with courageous commitment to moral principles. Three months before the mass street protests began in Syria on 15 March 2011, he broke what he called the ‘barrier of fear’ and started drawing the president, a revelatory act in a country where defaming the leader can result in a prison sentence lasting up to five years. These caricatures of Bashar al-Assad lead to a vicious assault. Since then, the cartoonist has become an unlikely hero of a revolution.

Like the political art taking place inside and outside the country, many of the participants in the exhibition Culture in Defiance: Continuing Traditions of Satire, Art and the Struggle for Freedom in Syria are anonymous.

The exhibition is curated by Malu Halasa, Aram Tahhan, Leen Zyiad and Donatella Delle Ratta.



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