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NO MORE FLOWERS - Curator Tours

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London College of Communication

Elephant and Castle

London

SE1 6SB

United Kingdom

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Join us for a Curator Tour of 'NO MORE FLOWERS' by Syrian photographic artist Abd Doumany.

The Curator Tours will be a chance to speak with the artist and exhibition curator Max Houghton. Together, they will discuss how Doumany came to document the very beginnings of the war in Syria in 2011, and how life in his hometown unfolded over the subsequent six years, until he had to leave his country for exile in Turkey. Doumany joined LCC as Artist Protection Fund Fellow in Residence in September 2018.

The discussion will centre around how Doumany has worked with his vast archive, and shaped his work first for a group show, Visible Justice, and now for this, his first solo show. The focus of the conversation will be the ethics of representing the dead of war and how it has necessitated new forms of photographic seeing.

Max Houghton is Course Leader for MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at LCC. She is a writer, editor and curator with a focus on the documentary image as it intersects with politics, law and human rights. She is a PhD candidate in Laws at UCL.

No More Flowers runs from 4 November 2019 to 16 January 2020, with a Launch Night on 30 October, 4 - 8pm.

No More Flowers is presented by the UAL Photography and the Archive Research Centre at London College of Communication, on the occasion of the relaunch of the Centre.


About:

NO MORE FLOWERS is the first solo exhibition by Syrian photographer Abd Doumany, which brings together images in different registers that bear witness to the origins of the war, and honour its many dead. The title reflects new realities shaped by the war in Syria: there have been so many funerals that there are no more flowers to adorn the coffins. Floral tributes could only be offered in the early months of a war that has already lasted for eight years. And such observations can only be made by an insider. Here we see war from within.

Through the process of editing his own images since his arrival in London in 2018, Doumany found himself face to lifeless face with people he knew, including members of his family. This encounter necessitated an ethics of seeing beyond the documentary form. His confrontation with so many brutalised bodies has led to a questioning of the violence of the image itself. Using smashed fragments of mirrored glass, to anonymise the dead and injured, at the same time reveals an image first of the photographer, then of the viewer, both broken by sight. Memories of months spent in the Field Hospital crystalised this aesthetic strategy. Formerly a wedding venue, its mirrored walls exchanged reflections of the jubilant for those of the wounded citizens of war.

A further series of images, from an installation work, The Layered Cemetery of Douma, is partially covered by the same brightly coloured fabrics used to wrap bodies when the usual shrouding fabric became unavailable, due to the unprecedented number of burials. With these images, the viewer can choose whether to witness the worst atrocities of the war by moving the silk aside.

For the past year, Doumany has been creating a book of the dead, hand-writing the names of more than 8,000 he has compiled from open source data, in act of commemoration and preservation, after he learned the death register went missing from Douma’s cemetery. A video piece has been created for this exhibition, to mark his performative act of re-writing deaths that have otherwise been obliterated from official records. This work sees the names being inscribed into history.

The fourth series in the exhibition is a wall of images, its title inspired by How to Start A Battalion, an article by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad for the London Review of Books, the likes of which rarely appears in Western press. Photography was not Doumany’s chosen profession; he was training to be a dentist when war broke out. Living through the siege of Douma demanded the creation of visual evidence, as he witnessed destruction, disappearances and deaths on a scale previously unimaginable. He also witnessed hundreds of young men like him starting and joining battalions to oppose Assad’s murderous regime, and was permitted to photograph their clandestine meetings ,training sessions and propaganda performances. During this period, Doumany was injured and was unable to walk for a year. He continued to photograph from his bed, and some personal images of friends and family are shown here, too, as domestic life and the life of war became indistinguishable and forever intertwined.

War shatters meaning, but out of its destruction, new forms are created. With No More Flowers, Doumany offers an aesthetics of a very contemporary battlefield, to be seen and understood as image, from both near and far.


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London College of Communication strives to provide an inclusive and accessible environment for our students and visitors. If you have any specific access requirements for an event or exhibition, please contact us by email (events@lcc.arts.ac.uk) or phone (020 7514 8498) in advance of your visit so that we can make any necessary preparations or adjustments. For full access and route guides for our building, please view our AccessAble accessibility guide.


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London College of Communication

Elephant and Castle

London

SE1 6SB

United Kingdom

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