Artists at Risk at Synapse 2 | Athens Biennale 2015-2017 OMONOIA

Athens, 15-17 April, 2016

Perpetuum Mobile at Athens Biennale 2015-2017 OMONOIA:

“Synapse 2: Rethinking Institutional Critique – A View From the South”

Sunday, 17 April 


16:00 Perpetuum Mobile presents AR – Artists at Risk
17:30-18:00 “Risk” Series: Films by Issa Touma and Khaled Jarrar

Perpetuum Mobile presents AR – Artists at Risk

Artists are targets of politically motivated threats in great parts of the world. PM-Perpetuum Mobile’s “Artists at Risk” platform is dedicated to mapping the field of persecuted art practitioners, facilitating their safe-exit from countries of origin and hosting them at so-called “Safe Haven” residencies. AR aims to constitute a mondial platform, establishing new Safe Havens in Athens and Berlin to add to its existing residency-programme in Helsinki. As the only project of its kind dedicated to the visual arts, it is creating an online publication dedicated to the rights and freedoms of visual art practitioners.


“Risk” Series: films by Issa Touma and Khaled Jarrar
As an accompaniment to the “Artists at Risk” platform, PM presents “Risk”, a series of related creative works. At Synapse 2, we include two short films: an introduction to Khaled Jarrar’s new film Destination Berlin (2016) and Issa Touma’s prize-winning 9 Days from my Window in Aleppo (2012). Khaled Jarrar was a participant in PM’s To The Square 2 #TSQ2, and Issa Touma was an Artist at Risk Resident in Helsinki in 2015, and through AR’s assistance, became the first resident in Gävle, Sweden, a city of refuge from 2016.



9 Days – From My Window in Aleppo


On the morning of 19 August 2012, Syrian photographer Issa Touma noticed young men from the Free Syrian Army lugging sandbags into his street and building a barricade under the window of his apartment. The civil war had reached the streets of Aleppo. The following nine days, Touma stayed inside with his camera, filming the situation down the street from his apartment window. 9 Days – From My Window in Aleppo captures the changing nature and dynamic of the situation outside, as T-shirt-wearing partisans gave way to the heavily armed militants of the al-Tahwid Brigade. Touma recorded the start of the uprising in Aleppo and gives an unprecedented glimpse into the conflict.

The Syrian conflict

Now in its fifth year, the Syrian conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and left half of the population displaced. Aleppo, the largest metropolis in the country and one of the oldest human settlements in the world, is at risk of disappearing. Ongoing battles between government forces, opposition rebels and radical Islamist militants have severely damaged the city’s architectural fabric and will soon destroy what remains of this essence of a centre of intellectual activity and cross-cultural dialogue. The original number of inhabitants has shrunk from 2.7 million to an estimated 1.2 million in the Assad-controlled western zone and 200,000 in the east, according to UN officials.

A film by Issa Touma in cooperation with Floor van der Meulen and Thomas Vroege.

9 Days from my Window in Aleppo
by Issa Touma
Video, 12’36”, 2015.


Destination Berlin
(working title)


With forged papers, I crossed with Nadira and reached the European continent by foot, ferry, bus, and train, traveling with a group of the Syrian refugees.

One hundred thousand Palestinians fled to Syria after being expelled from Palestine upon the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Integrating into Syrian society over time, their experience stands in stark contrast to the plight of Palestinian refugees in other Arab countries, leading to a different way of understanding the 1948 Nakba, or catastrophe, in popular memory.

Nadira, now 76 years old, escaped from Nazareth in 1948 to the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria. In 2015 she was forced to escape once more, to a new destination. Still, she is a temporary migrant. Some migrants have the prior intention of becoming permanent residents of European countries for various reasons. The main reason is that they have no home to go back to. But for Nadira, it is different – she is conscious of a home that she has left behind. Most refugees from Syria today are escaping a war zone in search of “heaven”. Heaven for most of them is Germany. It promised to welcome them with open arms

This trailer is an introduction to a film currently in development.
Video, 3’54”, 2016