CLAUDIA NEBEL

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STYRIA MEETS SYRIA

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The Project


The socially complex background of Syria is used to represent the artistic work in seemingly plain symbolism involving the religious pluralism and the connective civilised humane as a mirror to contrast this with growing archaic segments.


The artist fabricates a series of photographic self-portraits that all contain a self-altering accessory – the scarf – as a common constant. Constant and yet remarkably altered.

The scarves, embroidered with the artist’s own hair, give each portrait its individual notion.


The scarves are embroidered with the symbols of the three monotheistic religions – Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

Once as a bandanna, another time as a neck scarf or as a shawl the scarves are coded with different religious symbolisms that obliterate the apprehended differences and invite to perceive unexpected associations and admonish the urge for a commitment to tolerance.


This tolerance should be regarded as instruction for the future without hiding the fact that many times it is a dangerous and challenging tightrope walk between tolerance and arbitrariness. 

By the use of the own hair, the individual uniqueness auf each individual in the existing religious and general social interactions is accented through the concurrence with the portraits.

The individual steps in front of the background of tradition and socialisation.

I regard Syria as an artistic challenge.

Against the background of the frictions between Orient and Occident, the growing mistrust of western societies against the Islam and everything Arabian in general, Syria seems to be a particular hot spot.


Denounced as a member of the axis of evil by the USA and yet a quasi-laicist bastion against Islamism; ancient cultural traditions and yet enlightened social trends; Sunnite-majority country, Alawitic elite und Christian minorities – a truly excitingly vivid and partly contradictory picture.


All my sojourns in the Arabic word have exercised an immense fascination over me.


Now I was focusing on „catching“ the kaleidoscope-like hodgepodge as well as the differentiated portrayals of the complexities in that part of the world.

On the grounds of the cultural abundance in one of the oldest continually populated cities in the world, Damascus, it was all about creating something new, asking questions and attempting to find answers.


In my works, I attempt to decode the complexity of social and cultural phenomena by making portraits of individual persons or deliberate or seemingly accidental gatherings of people. 

Contexts are being split up and reassembled or newly interpreted.

At the centre of these actual works were the challenges of an intellectual translation and

the establishment of a link of understanding between East and West.