Netherlands / 2016-2018 / spacial installation / wood, shelves, roller shutter, neon. light bulbs, Arabic groceries, cassette player, tea and cups / 300 x 350 x 250 cm but size may vary
Into The Great Wide Open festival (ITGWO) 2016, Vlieland , curated by Nienke Korthof, Maire Haverkort, Peter van Hoof
Assisted by Reem Saouma, Amer Assaf, Muhammad Soubhi Tabakh and supported by VSBfonds
Winkel is an installation based on interiors of several shops that I had photographed in Syria in 2006 (first image) and 2008-2009. The installation was managed by two Syrian men who fled from Aleppo in 2015. Nothing was for sale in Winkel; it was a display as we know from an ethnographic museum. Hence the contact between the Syrians and the audience was not limited to an economic transaction, the work acted as a catalyst for many conversations: about the installation itself, their escape from Syria, their future. On Vlieland - next to the camping shop of Sytse and Anneke - the work seemed surreal, and within the art program of the festival it was a stranger in our midst, which was also my intention.
ITGWO invited me to realize a new work and I visited to the 2015 edition to do my research. The news at the time was dominated by the influx of boat refugees from the Mediterranean Sea. When arriving at our tent at the relatively white festival on the (rainy) island Vlieland, with our daughter of two years old, after a long trip by foot, train, boat… the similarities and contrasts could not be bigger! For me there was no escape to engage with the current events.
When the two Syrian assistants arrived at the installation of 2x3 meters that I had been building up with assistant Reem Saouma, one of them told me: "It's like real". Because after a bombardment people build up tiny new shops. To quote film maker Heddy Honigmann: "Life starts always where it has been destroyed: on a small table in what has been a street, a man starts again to sell: some candy, more candy and a few biscuits (…)".
Press: VPRO’s Vrije Geluiden and video documentation by ITGWO
Two years later the installation Winkel was on show again in the group exhibition Works of Mercy in the exhibition space CBK Zuidoost in Amsterdam. The show was curated by Renske de Jong. Works of Mercy opened April 12 and lasted until June 30, 2018. During the finissage that day the Syrian shopkeepers sold products from the installation. The final four photographs show the installation in CBK Zuidoost.