From one moment into another, in a split second, life changes irrevocably, sometimes in a most disturbing way. A series of animated line drawings portray children caught in the violence of Syria’s war. Their portraits are traced verbatim from news report clips. The rendering into drawing strives to translate terror’s destabilising impact. The drawn portrait underlines the unknowing complex of trauma and impact of violence so graphically encountered by these children, impelling their unfathomable experience of loss into a shared one. It is not possible to get the full picture. What we see are fragments.
Two years ago, Razan Ibraheem and I first talked about a way to bring these stories of intense human suffering to a greater audience. Observing images of atrocity, witnessing the hurt in these young people solicited an immediate emotional response. Is the guilt we feel affective? As a human being and particularly as a mother I felt implicated watching the footage. The way I work as an artist called for an ethical and empathic response. These five children represent thousands of children victimised by Syria’s ongoing war. Their portraits reach out to all those children in our world, who likewise have become trapped, displaced and scarred through political, religious and economic brutality, inflicted on them by a growing collective, disparate and intolerant attitude.
Anita Groener, Dublin, Ireland, September 2018
Reporting on Syria’s war for the last three years, I have read stories and watched raw videos that have forever touched me deep in my heart and conscience. I have come across people who left a deep impression on my memory, a powerful mark that I cannot remove. I have watched mothers kissing the wounded head of their dead children to say goodbye. I have seen fathers– broken and fragile– carrying their children to their grave.
I have witnessed children covered in blood and still asking for a lollipop. I have seen children dying with their eyes open. I have witnessed my homeland die.
We Syrians, when we lose our loved ones, we don’t only wail and cry, we spontaneously speak in poetic words, words that live and die in that same moment. Our agony, our despair and frailty along with our dignity, pride and decency during the brutal war, haunts me wherever I go. More importantly, the words haunt me. The words we say in a moment of loss and death are poetic, innocent and honest.
To honour our Syrian moments, to remember the words of the distressed mothers, fathers and children, to understand the human suffering and to feel their pain, I translate their words into English so that you, too, might remember their moments.
Razan Ibraheem, Syrian Journalist, Ireland, September 2018