Berlin. Contrast Syria. Photographs by Mohamad Al Roumi


Mohamad Al Roumi: Arc de pauvrete (Detail), Damaskus 2008 © Mohamad Al Roumi

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

29.07.2016 to 30.10.2016

Syria: destruction, suffering, death. Nowadays if you were to ask German people what they associate with this war-torn country, they may very well come up with these words.

The Syrian photographer Mohamad al-Roumi, whose pictures of his native country constitute an extraordinary life’s work, is now showing a different side to Syria in his exhibition “Contrast Syria” at the Museum für Islamische Kunst. Here visitors can see pictures taken in Syria’s north-eastern provinces during the 1990s, showing the region’s nomadic population and the working conditions to be found in its poverty-stricken towns. Many of the people currently arriving in Germany call these parts of Syria their home.

Mohamad al-Roumi invites visitors to share his highly personal view of his homeland, mediated through a sophisticated and authentic visual language. There is nothing left to chance; rather, each picture seems to convey some actual essence of reality. Al-Roumi seeks to craft a special expressive idiom, directing our gaze both to the beauty and ugliness of everyday life. Contemplation is accorded a particularly significant role in the photographs, which were evidently not created spontaneously. A profound sense of reverence characterizes his portraits of people who, despite often being engaged in exhausting work, still radiate tremendous dignity.

It is precisely this highly personal perspective that allows Mohamad al-Roumi to show what Syria really is: a home to people from a variety of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. By offering a Syrian’s perspective on his own homeland, the photographs lend a view of the country distinct from the image that we have recently become accustomed to seeing. This helps provide a better understanding of Syria’s significance for its inhabitants and a clearer sense of their actual everyday reality.

The exhibition is organized in cooperation with the Syrian Heritage Archive Project and supported by the German Foreign Office.




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