Berlin-based photographers Daniel Sonnentag and Kai Wiedenhöfer portray the human impact of the Syrian conflict. Their works, which approach the subject from different points of view, were exhibited at Gallery Al-Quds and the Goethe-Institut as a way to highlight this urgent humanitarian crisis. Images from both artists will be exhibited at Gallery Al-Quds and the Goethe Institut.
accompanied by Helen Zughaib, Necessary Things
Artist Helen Zughaib has been engaged in reminding her viewers about the price of conflict since before the Arab Spring. “I think of myself as somebody who’s talking about the people who end up paying the price for war. It’s women and children.” For this exhibition, she has created objects in mixed media– plates, shoes, tiles, wooden boxes, recalling the ways of life left behind or destroyed by war.
Panel: The Growing Role of Empathy in the Arts
This panel conversation explored the power of the arts to foster understanding and build empathy was held in coordination with the Gallery Al-Quds exhibition THEY HAVE NAMES and the Goethe Institute’s exhibition FORTY OUT OF ONE MILLION. Panelists included Rashwan Abdelbaki, Syrian visual artist, awarded a 2016 IIE – Artist Protection Fund Fellowship, Elif M. Gokcigdem, Historian of Islamic Art , scholar and editor, Fostering Empathy Through Museums (Rowman-2016), Dagmar Painter (moderator), Curator, The Jerusalem Fund-Gallery Al-Qud, Daniel Sonnentag, Berlin-based photographer and videographer, Kai Wiedenhöfer, Berlin-based photographer, and Helen Zughaib, Washington, D.C.-based visual artist.
Daniel Sonntaneg was born in West Berlin in 1982. He grew up in one of Berlin’s neighborhoods with the highest population of migrants, mostly from Turkey and several Arab countries. At age 17, he began working as a photo assistant, and then briefly attended the photography school “Fotografie am Schiffbauer Damm.”
His career as a photographer and videographer began in 2007, primarily shooting commercials for big brand companies, as well as actor portraits.
In 2015, Sonnentag began volunteering at the ICC Berlin refugee camp, where he first met the subjects of his recent photography. Since his initial encounters with the children there, he has become a regular force in the camp, accompanying the kids on excursions, teaching kick boxing, and providing a strong “fatherly” figure for many. These experiences influenced his decision to focus his photographic work on the social issues of integration of immigrants and the communication between people of different cultural and religious backgrounds. The social media campaign, THEY HAVE NAMES, sprouted out of this work.
In his exhibition of photographs at Gallery Al-Quds, Daniel’s THEY HAVE NAMES project helps the viewer see the “kids,” as he calls them, as the children they are, first and foremost,and helps people to see behind the ”refugee,“ the “war survivor“ and recognize the similarities to their own children.
For FORTY out of ONE MILLION, German photographer Kai Wiedenhöfer took portraits of forty Syrian war-wounded in towns, villages and refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon between spring 2014 and 2015. By showing the genuine aftermath of this war, he seeks to raise support for people who are really in need. The media summarize the number of casualties on a daily basis, but often ignore the wounded. The war will never end for them, as they will have to endure their injuries for the rest of their lives.
Wiedenhöfer’s project aims to show the suffering of the civilian population in a modern war. Looking back retrospectively in the cold light of the day, the horrors of war become evident. The reality is so gruesome that the media tends to not depict it for ethical reasons. But does this policy help prevent war and suffering, or contribute to additional conflict by making it more palatable to an unknowing public?
Kai Wiedenhöfer (b. Germany 1966) received an MA in photography and editorial design from the Folkwang University of the Arts Essen, and studied Arabic in Damascus, Syria. Since 1989 his work has primarily focused on the Middle East. He has received numerous awards, including the Leica Medal of Excellence, the Alexia Grant for World Peace and Cultural Understanding, World Press Photo awards, the Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography and the Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award. Wiedenhöfer has published four books with Steidl: Perfect Peace (2002), Wall (2007), The Book of Destruction (2010, exhibited as a solo exhibition in the Musée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris), and CONFRONTIER (2013, about walls worldwide). Solo exhibitions include “WALLONWALL,” which covered 364 meters of the Berlin Wall with works from CONFRONTIER, and the 2015 “WARonWALL – The Struggle in Syria,” which is accompanied by Syrian Collateral (2016). In December 2016, the International Human Rights League in Berlin presented Wiedenhöfer with the Carl-von-Ossietzky Medal for citizens who promote basic human rights.
Helen Zughaib was born in Beirut, Lebanon, living mostly in the Middle East and Europe before coming to the United States to study art at Syracuse University, earning her BFA from the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
Helen currently lives and works in Washington, DC, as an artist. She paints primarily in gouache and ink on board and canvas. More recently, she has worked with wood, shoes, cloth in mixed media installations.
Her work has been widely exhibited in galleries and museums in the United States, Europe and Lebanon. Her paintings are included in many private and public collections, including the White House, World Bank, Library of Congress, US Consulate General, Vancouver, Canada, American Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, the Arab American National Museum in, Michigan She was awarded the Artist Fellowship grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities in 2015 and 2016, and is included in the new Washingtonian Collection, and DC Art Bank. Helen was also invited as artist in residence at both George Mason University in 2015, creating a silkscreen with Navigation Press and Wesley Theological Seminary in 2016. Her paintings have been included in several Art in Embassy exhibitions abroad, including Brunei, Nicaragua, Mauritius, Iraq, Belgium and Lebanon. In 2008, Helen was invited as US Cultural Envoy through the US Department of State, to Palestine. In 2009, she was invited to Switzerland and France, under the US Department of State’s Speaker and Specialist Program. In October 2016, she traveled to Saudi Arabia as US Cultural Envoy, speaking to young Saudi women artists. Her paintings have been gifted to heads of state by President Obama and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
A multi-media collaborative project between Syrian poets, musicians and visual artists, featuring readings and art with musical accompaniment.
The exhibition and performance are part of a larger Arts Program on the Human Impact of the Syrian Conflict presented by The Jerusalem Fund Gallery Al-Quds, in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut and the Middle East Institute’s Arts and Culture Program.
Exhibition dates: April 21-May 31