Open Call for Syrian Artists
through solidarity, we survive

hrough Solidarity, We Survive is an initiative aimed at raising awareness of the social, political, and cultural effects that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on communities, while supporting Syrian artists in exile.

You are reading the full open call in English now, which is available in Arabic, too. As another part of the initiative we have launched a crowdfunding campaign.

Active now!

Announcement date:   6 May 2020
Extended Deadline:   14 June 2020


The rapid and unexpected spread of COVID-19 has affected every detail of our contemporary life, challenging everything that we thought of as being stable, continuous, and unchangeable. While humanity has managed to unite in the face of a hidden common enemy, the viral emergency has also strengthened a sense of profound crisis in our social and political systems. In the long run, the social, cultural, economic, and political challenges that will arise from the physical distancing, will have a more evident impact on society than the temporary presence of the virus. Even if we manage to beat the invisible “enemy,” nothing in our lives will go back to what and how it was. If this crisis has revealed essential flaws in our systems, what is happening today is more than just a test of our defense readiness - it is an opportunity to fundamentally question who we are and where we are going.

It is neither about what we need to remain alive, nor about how we can think of reorganizing this life following the emerging situation. Instead the crucial question is about our collective cultural and moral values and our ability to express them. All of this reflects the central interrelationship between art/culture and all existing systems. Culture is the essence of who we are as human beings: it establishes our collective social lives, binds us together, and nurtures our sense of belonging. Without a blatant recognition of the urgent need for the cultural dimension, it is difficult to envision the future as a joint endeavor of human civilization. Therefore, we believe that artists and cultural producers play a critical role in providing “alternative spaces,” which will be a cornerstone in navigating the ongoing transformations in the coming months.

The initiative

The open call invites Syrian artists to produce a digital artwork (in the form of a poster) based on a dialogue. More specifically, the artist should reach out to a person from their surroundings (a neighbor, relative, friend, or other) to develop and produce a visual artwork with a thematic focus on shared experiences, thoughts, concerns or feelings, as such translating their dialogue into an artwork that serves as a visual document. Vice versa, anyone can get in contact with a Syrian artist to invite him/her to participate in this initiative together. This process focuses on building bridges within communities at the current time of physical distancing and isolation, while highlighting the impact of the current epidemic on all aspects of our daily life. This is done to highlight the major role that creativity, imagination, and storytelling play during times of uncertainty and upheaval.

coculture will work with the successful applicants to use public spaces (e.g. windows, balconies, billboards, walls, etc.) as open galleries to exhibit the submitted artwork as part of a public campaign in Berlin. When the lockdown period is over, coculture will also exhibit the selected artworks in its gallery space in Berlin upon an agreement with the participating artists. Through Solidarity, We Survive is partnering with Oslo World, who will create a second city campaign with the submitted artworks in Oslo during Oslo World Festival Week from the 27th of October and 1 November.

In parallel to the open call, the initiative Through Solidarity, We Survive has also launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the participating artists. The total amount raised from this campaign will be divided equally between all the artists participating in the initiative, because it is literally through solidarity that we survive. coculture is contributing 5.000 EUR and Oslo World is contributing a further 3000 EUR as initial support for the campaign:

To further promote the approved artworks and increase the community’s participation, a social media campaign will be established where everyone can vote for their favorite artwork. The work with most votes will subsequently be used as the main PR image for everything related to the campaign.

Evaluation and selection process

Following the submission deadline of June 5, 2020, coculture will conduct an administrative check to ensure that applications are complete and adhere to all guidelines. Afterwards, a committee of art professionals will review the artworks themselves. Inclusivity is of utmost importance for this campaign, and the professional review is only to ensure a minimum level of effort, quality, and good faith in the submissions.

Eligible criteria

  • Applicants must be Syrians, Syrian-Palestinians, from a Syrian origin, or the like.
  • Applicants must be residing outside Syria.
  • Applicants can submit multiple artworks; however, they will be considered as one submission.
  • Applicants who do not submit the required documents will not be considered.

Application documents

  • Digital visual artwork (must be A2 in size, minimum of 300 dpi resolution, and preferably vertically oriented).
  • Description of the process of reaching out to others to create the artwork (maximum of 500 words).
  • Written acceptance for coculture to use your submitted artwork in all media and in the city campaign.
  • CV and biography.

How to apply

Please email your submission to by midnight on June 5th 2020 (using a link to WeTransfer or other sharing services such as Dropbox if necessary). The subject line of the email should read “TSWS Submission + Your Name.” You will receive a confirmation email once the application has been received.


Following the close of the parallel crowdfunding campaign at the end of June 2020, the successful applicants will be emailed regarding payment. Payments should be finalized by the end of July 2020.


Please find the campaign on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as well as on and share it using the hashtags #throughsolidarity and #coculture.

Want to know more about the initiative?
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