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. The project’s goal is to publicly highlight the major role that creativity, imagination, and storytelling play during times of uncertainty and upheaval, while supporting artists in exile.
The initiative, supported by Oslo World and The UdK Artist Training, consists of 16 posters, an exhibition, two city campaigns, an open call, and a crowdfunding campaign.
This year, the rapid and unexpected spread of COVID-19 has affected every detail of our contemporary life, challenging everything we thought of as stable, continuous, and unchangeable. While people all around the world have sought 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 arising from physical distancing are likely to have a more substantial impact on society than the temporary presence of the virus. For even if we manage to beat the invisible enemy, nothing in our lives will go back to what and how it was.
If the current crisis has revealed essential flaws in our systems, what is and has been happening is more than just a test of our defence readiness - it is an opportunity to fundamentally question who we are and where we are going. The crucial question should neither be about what we need to remain alive nor about how to reorganise life following the crisis. Instead, it should concern our collective cultural and moral values and our ability to express them. Artists and cultural producers play a critical role in providing alternative spaces, which are cornerstones in navigating the ongoing transformations of a crisis. Indeed, 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 beyond borders. Without a blatant recognition of the urgent need for the cultural dimension, it is difficult to envision the future as a joint endeavour of human civilization.
The 16 posters that are part of the Through Solidarity, We Survive initiative stem from two separate sources: 14 are from the initiative’s open call for Syrian artists in diaspora to create a dialogue-based artwork reacting to the pandemic, and the remaining two are made by artists participating in the Fine Arts Artist Training Program for Artistic Collectives by the UdK Berlin Career College.
The participating artists are: Ala' Hamameh, Ammar Hatem, Ammar Khattab, Diala Brisly, Fadi Aljabour, Fahed Halabi, Michael Daoud, Nada Ali, Nagham Hamoush, Nour Safadi, Razan Sabbagh, Ruba Salameh, Tamer Mallak, Yaser Kassab, Yerevan Hassan, and Zena El Abdalla.
As part of the initiative, all the artists were offered a one to one mentoring session with Sarah Boris, a graphic designer who has worked with organisations such as Phaidon, ICA, the Barbican and the Tate, to further develop their posters.
Through Solidarity, We Survive - Oslo City Campaign
Exhibition opening: Oct 25 2020, Youngstorget, 0181 Oslo, Norway
Exhibition period: Oct 25 2020 - Nov 1 2020
Youngstorget, Sørenga, Sankthanshaugen, and the Jakob Culture Church
Through Solidarity, We Survive - Berlin City Campaign
Exhibition period: Jul 17 2020 - onwards
Throughout Berlin, Germany
Through Solidarity, We Survive - Exhibition
Exhibition period: Jul 16 2020, 4-10pm; Jul 17 2020, 10am-4pm
UdK Konzertsaal Berlin, Hardenbergstr. 33, 10623 Berlin, Germany
Part of the UdK Berlin demonstration KUNST RAUM STADT
Through Solidarity, We Survive - Artist Interventions
Jul 16 2020, 7-9pm
UdK Konzertsaal Berlin, Hardenbergstr. 33, 10623 Berlin, Germany
Artists: Fahed Halabi, Nour Safadi, Razan Sabbagh, Ruba Salameh, Zena El Abdalla
The Through Solidarity, We Survive exhibition featured all of the selected posters and was on view at the UdK Konzertsaal, Hardenbergstraße 33, 10623 Berlin, on July 16th, 4 – 10 pm, and July 17th, 10 am-4 pm, as part of the Universität der Künste Berlin demonstration “Kunst Raum Stadt.” The UdK demonstration was part of the UdK Artist Training program, which is funded by the Governing Mayor of Berlin / Senate Chancellery - Science and Research. On July 16th from 7 – 9 pm, there was a series of interventions by a number of the artists at the exhibition.
Alongside the exhibition during the UdK demonstration, coculture and UdK also presented all of the posters in a Berlin city campaign. For this, the posters were distributed among the visitors to the exhibition and other volunteers in order to be hung in public spaces throughout the city.
The posters were exhibited in a city campaign in Oslo, Norway, during the Oslo World Festival from the 25th of October to the 2nd of November, courtesy of Oslo World and SPACE. Here they will be exhibited in open spaces at Youngstorget, Sørenga, Sankthanshaugen, and in the Jakob Culture Church. Thanks to a collaboration with Fotogalleriet, a limited edition of the Through Solidarity, We Survive artworks are available to buy in their webshop throughout the exhibition period and beyond.
The open call is now closed.
The open call invited Syrian artists to produce a digital artwork in the form of a poster that was to be based on a dialogue. More specifically, the artists were asked to reach out to a person from their surroundings 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 served as a visual document.
Afterwards, the artworks were reviewed by a committee of art professionals, consisting of Adam Broomberg, Professor of Photography at Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg, and Marianna Liosi, an academic, researcher, and curator. Inclusivity was and is of utmost importance for this campaign, and the professional review was only to ensure the connection to the theme and open call. A total of 25 artists submitted work, out of which 14 were selected to be a part of the initiative.
The campaign is now closed.
In parallel to the open call, the initiative Through Solidarity, We Survive also launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the participating artists. As initial support for the campaign, coculture contributed 5.000 EUR and Oslo World a further 3.000 EUR. The crowdfunding campaign closed on the 26th of June 2020, and the total amount raised was divided equally between all the 14 artists selected from the open call, with the other 11 applicants also receiving a small honorarium for their contribution.
Through Solidarity, We Survive is supported by Oslo World and the UdK Artist Training.
Oslo World is one of Europe’s leading venue festivals, presenting a global outlook on today’s music scene, with a special focus on music from Africa, Latin-America, Asia and the Middle East. The city campaign in Oslo is in collaboration with SPACE (Syrian Peace Action Center) and Fotogalleriet. Supported by Oslo Municipality.
The UdK Artist Training is a qualification program offered by the Universität der Künste Berlin Career College aiming at the qualification, consulting, and networking of artists in exile.
The Project Artist Training Berlin is funded by the Governing Mayor of Berlin / Senate Chancellery - Science and Research.
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