the shop 2006, the ghost 2007public intervention
public intervention midhat basha-street,
reconstruction villa de bank, enschede 2007 (curated by james beckett)
bassel al saady (syria)
kristiina koskentola (finland)
here as the center of the world, midhat basha-street,
The group of artists built an installation in a rented shop in Midhat Basha Street. The installation consisted of three elements: a pair of pillows, a pair of archive drawers and a photo of a door.
‘I found Damascus a living museum of archaeology. The past is contemporary in the present. Like the whole city was turned inside-out. Especially one building at the straight street made me realize that: a façade that is only covering a kind of a graveyard of architecture, a ‘Museum of Human Condition’. An empty wall, build to the front of ruins of many layers of buildings of many centuries.
Like the identity that is build by generation and is relaying on its traditions, like the cultural conditions. For me, the interest in this building came from the socio-political aspects of daily life. I was interested in how to express the movement I found so dominating, Private –Public. By turning the architecture on a platform of this movement I wanted to express the intimacy of these actions. I took the very pillows I was sleeping on and placed one Outside, on the pavement, and one Inside, in the shop. Intimacy, sexual roles and traditions are displayed. I wanted to make a condition related to that in unusual situation. That is signifying emotions and mental issues from the unconscious while been conscious.’
‘The street as it appeared to me was so much contained within its own walls, its own memories, and the endless amounts of black and white pictures. Pictures of the father, grand father, great grand father and the countless other ancestors, all mounted on the very top of the shop shelves with the unavoidable portraits of the president, so strong, so patriarchal, assuring their control and dominance and reminding the people that they are there watching them all the time and noting any mistake or misbehaviour.
The choice of the filing drawers was a kind of visual flirt with all these visual elements that characterised the interiors of the shops and the whole feeling of the street. The act of filing is (metaphorically and not metaphorically) a physical manifestation of the positions of control , of the theoretical absolute right of certain individuals in a system of hierarchies to intrude other individual personal histories, abstract line of thoughts and uncertain possibilities of future actions.
Unlike a full filing drawer which suggests a one sided control over its contents, the emptiness of the drawers suggests a controversial turbulent back and forth relation between the act of invasion, which in itself is a provocative act, and the vulnerability of being invaded. Both drawers were placed parallel to kristiina´s pillows, one inside the shop and the other on the pavement.
This part of the installation questions any form of controlling behaviour within any system, country, group, or self controlling repressive behaviour often created by the fear from that system, country, or individual relationship. It is about the safety that obedience and fear create.’
Bassel Al Saady
‘Out and in, for me the term “inside” means the house, home, any safe place.
Anything else is the outside; the buildings and the infrastructure of the city.
Architecture is home for me as a sculptor.
In the photo we see an open window or door in a bare wall. The wall is above a shop in the middle of Damascus city. We see how the layers of time appear in the construction in a chaotic way. The question is what is the inside and what is the outside…’