© Victor Sloan
Mais Darwazah is a Palestinian filmmaker based in Amman, Jordan. The core subject of her work revolves around the question of ‘personal’ Arab identity. For her film Take Me Home Mais went to Damascus in Syria where her grandmother lived. There she talked to her grandmother about past times, about how the family had moved from Palestine to Jordan to Syria and how her grandfather and granduncle had left her grandmother there while they traveled onto Turkey to work. This was around the time of the Second World War and the letters sent back from Turkey were censored. Mais is currently working on her new film My Love Awaits Me the Sea.
Issa Touma is an Armenian photographer and curator based in Aleppo. He set up the first photographic gallery in the Middle East in 1992 and presents an annual Women's Festival and an annual Photographic Festival. Later this year an exhibition of his photographs will be shown in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Issa has also lectured at Tate Modern about artistic activity in the Middle East. He is currently restoring an old electricity plant into a large multi gallery space that he hopes will bring Syria onto the international stage. In June this year he did a lecture tour of Europe talking about the situation in the Middle East.
Nora Murad is an actress and Artistic Director of Leish Troupe, Syrian independent Movement theatre company. Nora was born in Moscow where she lived for the first nine years of her life. She also lived in Paris for two years, yet she feels that it is only in Syria that she can create meaningful work. Based in Damascus, she is producing challenging work based on the human body. Muslim art is famous for its abstract and geometric forms but prohibits the depiction of living creatures including humans. Nora speaks about the role of women in Syria and how the west has a totally distorted view, she says, “Gender problems are the same all over the world.”
Nazem Jawesh is a Kurd and was interviewed in the bar of the Baron hotel in Aleppo. The hotel was made famous because people like Agatha Christie and Laurence of Arabia stayed there and also British spies pretending to be archaeologists, spied on the Germans, who were building a railway from Berlin to Baghdad. Oil was important then as well as now. Nazem worked for many years in a factory and during this time he photographed the exhausted faces of his work mates. These photographs have become famous images and have been shown in Europe as well as in the Middle East.