The Limits of Representation. The Transformation of Aesthetics in Syrian Artistic and Social Discourse

in La rivista di Arablit, a. V, n. 9-10, dicembre 2015, pp. 106-113.

The conflict that followed the uprising movement in Syria is the second deadliest since the Second World War. As Susan Sontag has written: «In an era of information overload battles and massacres filmed as they unfold have been a routine ingredient of the ceaseless flow of domestic, small-screen entertainment. The ultra-familiar, ultra-celebrated image – of an agony, of ruin – is an unavoidable  feature of our camera-mediated knowledge of war». Much has been said about the role of the new generation media in the Arab Spring in general; but in the Syrian scenario, their usage assumed a specific function, becoming soon a mere echo of the witnesses of the rough, unfiltered horror while reproducing and generating a huge amount of footage, pictures and documents that will circulate forever in all forms of media  and reach an extremely wide audience. «Pictures of hellish events – indeed – seem more authentic when they don’t have the look that comes from being ‘properly’ lighted and composed, because the photographer either is an amateur or –  just as serviceable – has adopted one of several familiar anti-art styles». Meanwhile, it is also true that the creativity of Syrian literature and art in general has increased exponentially in recent  years. A common feature in this production is the continuous representation of an impasse concerning the expressive ability of individuals in the face of the unspeakable collective tragedy of enormous proportions. This reflection proposal intends to investigate how the role of artists, writers, intellectuals changes when violence and its exposure exceed the limit of imagination while the ability to represent is reduced and reality is shown  without filters.

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Fatima Sai |