Installation detail, Koblenz, 2020.

Design of Necessity

2022, Site-specific participatory art project and exhibition at Maria Church, Copenhagen
currently on display

Highlighting humans’ resilience in conflict, the exhibition takes inspiration from stories of Syrians’ survival under siege and starvation, a collective act that forged networks of solidarity and compassion. Syrian activists and refugees in Denmark join Barakeh in the artistic process to express their stories and experiences.

Click here to read the full press release.

Opening Programme

Highlighting humans’ resilience in conflict, the exhibition takes inspiration from stories of Syrians’ survival under siege and starvation, a collective act that forged networks of solidarity and compassion. Syrian activists and refugees in Denmark join Barakeh in the artistic process to express their stories and experiences.

  • 3 pm — Opening featuring the project artwork, alongside the work of twelve photographers who witnessed and lived under the siege in Syria. The photography exhibition is co-curated by Guevara Namer
  • 4 pm — Readings by three Syrian women, assisted by Anne-Marie McManus, head of the European Research Council Grant SYRASP on contemporary Syrian narratives of imprisonment and disappearance.
  • 5 pm — Funeral On The Moon – a concert by Syrian musician and composer Milad Khawam.
  • 6 pm — Food by Ishtar - De Etniske Rødstrømper, a socio-economic enterprise run by staff and women with roots in Middle Eastern countries.

About the Exhibition

“Design of Necessity honors the resilience Syrians used to survive sieges carried out by the Assad regime, which systematically used starvation as a weapon of war and torture against its own people. A participatory artwork, it explores new possibilities for understanding and solidarity among the victims of war crimes, inside and outside, past and present.

The sculptural works in the exhibition depict the creative practices Syrians developed with ordinary objects under siege when they lived in cellars, shelters, and barren hiding places to escape barrel bombs. They learned to grow mushrooms underground and fixed shards of glass to the inside of satellite dishes to harness the sun’s rays for cooking. They recycled plastic to make fuel for electric generators. Like the intertwined networks of the mushroom they grew, they shared this knowledge with each other.

Design of Necessity exhibits satellite dishes installed in Maria Kirkeplads, containers of mushrooms growing in the church space, and a series of documentary materials that will be shown until the end of September. The dishes in turn become artworks, with their fractured reflections provoking spectators to consider the fragmentation of Syrian identities and communities over the past decade. In Danish cities, satellite dishes are often stigmatized objects associated with immigrant areas. Khaled Barakeh’s exhibition transforms them into a sincere image of the search for connection and into icons of Syrians’ resilience – both in the war and in their new, foreign homes.

In Design of Necessity, art is an open platform for sharing memory, practicing solidarity, and reenacting resilience in the name of justice for Syrians, and for all people suffering under siege and starvation. Connectivity will be built into the fabric of Design of Necessity, which will remain dynamic and socially engaged throughout its run. During the exhibition period, Maria church will serve as a meeting point, viewing space, cinema hall, conversation room, and forum for a range of actors working to create dignified conditions and opportunities for Syrians in Denmark.

As formulated in the International Criminal Court Statute, the crime against humanity of “extermination” covers not only the direct, intentional killing of civilians but also intentionally inflicting conditions of life “calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population,” including “the deprivation of access to food and medicine” that results in death. However, until today no independent mechanisms have been established to investigate the siege operations in Syria or support its victims’ pursuit of justice.

The photography exhibition with the participation of Abed Doumany, Ameer Al Halbi, Aref Tammawi, Bassam Khabieh, Bassel Altawil, Diyaa Khattab, Moayad Zaghmout, Mohammed Badra, Mohammed Abdullah / Artino, Mouhamad Abo Kasem, Rami Muhammad ALsayed, Wissam Khattab Shahleh.

Design of Necessity artwork made with the participation of Amer Kazkaz, Dima Sada, Fadia Alokla, Ghazal Shemi, Haya Termanini, Jojo Obaide, Lojain Ajek, Ola Ajek, Rami F MTm, Tarek Kelani, Yasser OM, Yousef Fares.

Design of Necessity is realized with support from Studio Khaled Barakeh, PAX, with great assistance from FX Team - Special effects and production support for Europe, Danchurchaid, Danish Film Institute, Art Week CPH, and through a residency at FABRIKKEN for Kunst og Design

About the Maria Project

Please visit www.mariaprojektet.dk.

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