Kobanê is a city in the predominantly Kurdish populated areas of northern Syria. It had more than 50000 inhabitants before the civil war in Syria. A siege by the terrorists of the so-called "Islamic state" made the city known in 2014 outside the country's borders.
Following the proclamation of his caliphate in June 2014, the so-called "Islamic State" launched an offensive in northern Syria in the following months. The goal was the capture of the city of Kobanê by the Kurdish People's Defense Units (YPG). The YPG had established regional self-government in the north of the country, as a result of the Syrian civil war. At first, it seemed as if it was only a matter of time before the city on the Turkish border was captured by the terrorists. With international support the tide turned. After months of war and conflicts, the fighters of the "Islamic State" were finally beaten significant at the end of January 2015 and retired from Kobanê. Thereupon, Kobanê was synonymous with the Kurds' war against repression by Islamist terrorist organizations.
Many parts of the city were completely destroyed by the attacks of the "IS", which made a normal life almost impossible. Nevertheless, many of the refugees who had fled as a result of the fighting returned. They were not influenced by the circumstances and tried to rebuild their city. At the same time, the residents of the city want to commemorate the victims of the IS offensive by preserving the ruins of destroyed houses as an official memorial site in a neighborhood and establishing it as the site of artistic processes.
The project "Pots" aims at an intercultural cooperation of visual artists from Switzerland, from Syria and Iraq with young people and adults in Kobane (Syria). It is prepared in Switzerland by a core group and carried out in Syria. The project responds to the need of Syrian Kurds, in cooperation and in exchange with artists from other countries, to counteract the devastation in their homeland with aesthetic experiences. Working together with clay - from digging up local occurrences to designing simple vessels and to firing - is moderated as a joint process with the local community. It is planned to cooperate with Aramaic ceramists. During the final installative exhibitions of the resulting objects in the ruins of a destroyed quarter in Kobane, care is taken to ensure that the composition of the participants reflects the heterogeneity of the local population groups (Arabs, Kurds, Aramaeans). At the same time, strong images will be developed together for aspects of reconciliation, trust in existing resources and reconstruction.
The Yezidis, one of the ancient peoples of the region, have been massacred to this day dozens of times for their faith and their way of life. Previously, they were attacked by forces such as Iraq and Turkey, suffered massacres and genocide. These call the Yezidis 'Ferman' (massacre / destruction). This time, the terrorist militia IS, known for its inhumane practices, committed the 73rd genocide of the Yezidis. Thousands of Yezidis were killed and captured. Tens of thousands were deported from their home in Shengal.
The streets of Shengal still bear the traces of the 73rd genocide. While fighting for the unknown fate of the 3'000 lost Yezidi, in some places the objects of the Yezidis, who had to suffer the massacre of the IS, are scattered around. On the one hand, they try to eradicate the destruction caused by the IS, on the other hand, to rebuild the burned and destroyed living spaces.
We Are Visible
An intercultural art project in Sulaymaniyah
A joint project of the association Mesela and the MS Gallery
The project "We Are Visible" aims at an intercultural cooperation between visual artists and youth and adults from Sulaymaniyah. The project group consists of local residents and refugees from Rojava, Afrin, Shengal, and Iran.
A core group in Sulaymaniyah will prepare and implement the project.
The project responds to the need of the Kurdish population together with artists to oppose the current events in Rojava and the consistently recurring genocide against the Kurdish people with aesthetic experiences meant to develop a proper form of memory.
Through a joint process, the project group develops a community sculpture. The working process is largely identical to that of traditional clay construction, which is still practiced in rural Mesopotamia today. In this common process, not only will cooperation take place, but they will also cook, eat, make music, dance and celebrate together.
"We Are Visible" is intended on the one hand to encourage the creativity of the project participants - and on the other to provide a visible, vital sign of community and togetherness for the region, which has been shaken by a history of destruction and expulsion. more information