Bissane Al-Charif

Artist - Message to Syria

After graduating from the Department of Architecture at the University of Damascus in 2000, I travelled to France and obtained a Master’s Degree in Archaeology from the University of Lyon II in 2001-2002. Later, I continued my studies specializing in the field of Set Designing (scenography) at the Department of Graduate Studies at the School of Architecture in Nantes – France and graduated in 2005. I went back to Syria in 2006 and I participated in many performances and theatre festivals, as designer, director, and costumes’ designer. I worked as a decor designer in many Syrian films. In 2008, I directed and designed Theatre Street project ALKAAR, which will be explained later in this document, as part of the artistic programme of “Damascus, Arab Capital of Culture”. I also participated in many installation projects in Lebanon and Syria. I was a member of several juries for art projects related to set designing and installation in Syria. Later on, I was trained in interactive theatre and interactive plastic art, as an animator and director. I currently live in Lyon – France and work as an independent artist in set design and installation. Since the conflict in Syria has taken place, war, revolution, and destruction became the main issues that consume my thoughts. My cultural questions and requirements are basically related to these themes and emerging from it. Therefore, I am keeping my self busy understanding and analysing these issue through art. My work is divides between participating in performances that deal with different aspects in Syrian Violence, or even organizing an interactive theatre held in Syrian refugees’ camps, not to mention presenting installations and video art. Currently, I am working on an installation and video art concerning Syrian Women who fled to different parts of the world, Jordan, Lebanon, Europe, etc. The work depends on and tickle their testimonies from a new angle and point of view. I am also working on the scenography of a new Syrian performance with the dramaturge Wael Ali, which will present the story of a Syrian political detainee, who was arrested during the eighties, and through his story we will re-read the history of violence in Syria. The performance will be presented in May in Beirut -theatre tournesol. Another installation in progress, is “Dead Buildings”. In co-operation with Mohammed Omran, this art work will rebuild the destruction of certain places in Syria, and it will be presented in Lebanon and Lyon. Furthermore, and using interactive theatre, I worked as a facilitator with Syrian women from Al-Zataari Refugee Camp in Jordan. And with the Syrian dramaturge Abu Sada, we have presented “The Trojan Women” on the stage in 2013. The performance, which I also executed its scenography, presented the testimonies of these refugees about their lives in the camps with the parts of the original texts of Euripides. This performance was presented in Amman. From another side, I conducted, an interactive workshop with children in Sabra refugee camp in Lebanon. With the cooperation of the Syrian sculptor and painter Mohammed Omran we lead a number of activities, mainly artistic, to help children presenting their experience through art. The workshop was held and sponsored by NAJDA Now foundation. In 2011, I worked with the Syrian dramaturge Omar Abu Sada, on the performance titled “Can you please look at the Camera?” This production recounts the stories of young Syrian political activists who were detained by the regime. It was presented in Theatre Tourne sol in Beirut-Lebanon, and Korea: Dossan Art Centre South Korea Lastly, I also lead a workshop organized in 2011 by “Art & Work” foundation. The activities included working with Syrian children to help them expressing their ideas through art.

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