Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Allepo and Syria
We loved Syria-for one I am besotted by textiles and it is still possible to find textiles worn as part of costume in various parts of Syria but mostly because the people are warm and friendly and incredibly helpful. It was nothing for a waiter who had served us coffee ,once, to walk50 metres out of the cafe where he worked to help us explain to a taxi where we were going ( though we had not asked him when having coffee)- plus negotiating a very good price for the fare which were incredibly cheap in any case.The souq in Damascus was amazing and the Souq in Allepo whilst not as captivating as the one in Damascus was also a delight.I am looking forward to returning to Syria next year .
Due to commitments with the exhibition we did not travel out of Damascus much or Allepo- but that is what curating is all about- being the public face of an exhibition and because people were so very interested we needed to be there all the time to talk and explain about the work and to stop touching- because of course these are textiles and like all viewers looking ( even those ones where there are white glove police on guard) at textile the instinct to touch is reflexive as far as I am concerned- to hold between your fingers and rub. So for future exhibitins I curate i think I will ask artists to make a small touch piece- for textiles is all about touch and to prohibit touching is like an act of denial.
We did see one small village of beehive domed buildings- but as this was on the outskirts of Allepo and the people favoured the more modern ( but very ugly) cement brick constructions it was in a state of dilapidation. I hope the pictures give some indication of the method of construction and some of the delight of their structure- they are entirely built of mudbricks without support apart from the mudbricks themselves- which means of course they are subject to the vagaries of the weather over time. We did visit one that was still inhabited by a family of 8 with mattresses neatly piled against the wall ( these are one room constructions) and otherwise furnished with that piece of equipment with which modern life can't seem to function- and I don't mean the fridge or washing machine- but the TV- the utter uselessness of the western propaganda and colonisation that this piece of equipment feeds into the daily lives of poor people whose cultural and social structures are so different to ours , leaves me feeling sad-it destroys so many things that are unique and wonderful and warm by the homegenisation of what tv moguls consider appropriate.
The installation photo of Across Australia is in Teeshereen Gallery in Allepo replete with a working fountain with soapie bubbles.