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Design: Nearest Neighbour

“When I joined the revolution in 2011, I never imagined the situation as it is right now. I am sad. I lost everything I had in Syria. But I have to move on. I must take care of myself.”

27 November – 3 December
Your Voice was open to the public in Sweida, As-Suwayda, Syria. Aktham Abu Fakher asked Academie voor Beeldvorming to organize the open call for this exhibition with him. 20 artists from all over the world responded and thus showed a work in the south of Syria. What was the effect of this? Did it make sense? I Skype with Aktham on a Tuesday evening, February 2017.

Sweety home building

Aktham fled Syria in 2014, because of his activities in human rights. Through Brazil he came to Curacao, to ask for asylum in The Netherlands. But the island is an independent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands,  and has no law related to refugees. Currently Aktham illegally lives in Willemstad, waiting for help from UNHCR.

Akthams wife, with their son still in Syria, runs UMA, an organization on Women Rights. The office of UMA was the location for the show. To get there, walk ‘in the “Moltaka al-mojtamaa al-madani” hall, next to the haram office, sweety home building, 4th floor’, the exhibition poster explains.

How do you feel about the open call and the exhibition?
“It was a new idea in Sweida: an exhibition. People were thrilled, because during the war they suffered and for a long time there was nothing to do for them. So many payed attention, talked about it and came to the gallery. They shared about it on social media. Because of this UMA became known as active on the streets: UMA found some partners and got a big project. I am grateful to the artists who responded to our call.”

“UMA now is working on peace culture. You know what war does to the minds of the people? End of March, they will do this project for six months and train people in Syria: How to live with peace? How to refuse the culture of war? How to push away the things that happened? Because no one can image what happened in Syria.”

How is your situation now?
“Many people know my story. But not so many people tried to do something. Even the government of The Netherlands pushed my case away. They sent it to UNHCR. I can’t do anything. I have to be patient.”

How about UMA? They don’t need you anymore?
‘UMA is a big group now, so people will take care of the organization.’