Nelida Nassar 11.03.2013
We, the several thousand refugee Syrian children living in challenged and fragile Lebanon for the last three years, have been forgotten by the international community. Our life is bleak revolving around an axis of greed, power and exploitation and our hope is getting smaller every day. Our lives, filled with scenes of abuse and terror, have become unbearable. We lack the most basic human rights: food, shelter, medication and schooling. A group of generous Lebano-Syrian individuals and few organizations have responded to our plight by organizing Syri-Arts. (This group includes Nora Joumblatt, May Mamarbachi, Aida Shawwaf, Nada Al Assaad, May Makarem, Safa Saidi, Amelie Beyhum, Wassim Rasamny and Me. Louay Ghandour in association with the Republic of Lebanon’s Ministry of Social Affairs, the Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA), and the NGOs’ UNICEF, Save the Children International, Action Against Hunger and SyriArts Paris as well as private companies and donors). The show, which has been a year in the making, is curated by Dr. Kathy Battista of Sotheby’s Institute of Art New York and Director of Contemporary Art Program.
One hundred forty artists of Middle Eastern origin, some working locally and others abroad, some emerging and some more established have heard our plea. The works of art reflect their makers’ specific ethnic and geographic characteristics while confronting universal issues. All of them have generously donated their paintings, sculptures and photographs individually or through their galleries. Some have cynical motives of self-promotion through philanthropic causes. We recently learned that the First Lady of France, Valerie Trierweiler, will demonstrate her support by visiting Lebanon and the Syri-Arts exhibition.
How can the world continue living without peace and harmony? Why is Syria,
that cradle of ancient civilizations and art, being left to face destruction?
The international community might be deaf to these calls, but there are
individuals with wealth and political influence who are acquiring artworks for public institutions for the express purpose of advancing cultural diplomacy in
the Middle East.
They are the Medici patrons of our own day and could – if wanted to – alleviate
our suffering with one bighearted and generous stroke by purchasing all the
Syri-Arts pieces, which are valued at 1.5 million dollars – not as a commodity but
for the art itself. Dare we dream?
The Middle East, in fact, has an untapped wealth of artistic and innovative talents they may wish to promote. They could instill pride in the region through art, maintaining a degree of cosmopolitanism away from colonialism while re-establishing a semblance of cultural parity with the West. Hasn’t the time come for them to acquire at Syri-Arts the Middle Eastern art works that might challenge “Western preconceptions about Muslim societies” where “Art becomes a very important part of our national identity.” We call upon all art patrons, along with all citizens of the world, to help us keep our human dignity by participating in this auction.
“The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter,” said the Roman philosopher Cicero. We have become faceless to the world, but we keep on asking these questions: Can art bridge the divide between cultures? Why has the international community forgotten how to care for its children?
All the works of Syri-Arts will be for sale at an auction to be held on November 8th
at the Beirut Exhibition Center, which has been offered by Solidere, “The Lebanese Company for the Development and Reconstruction of Beirut.” Art collectors from around the globe will be able to place bids on-line. The auction will benefit the Syrian Refugee Children in Lebanon.