Homes. Syrian Stories Through Artists’ Eyes

On the 24th of April, World Youth Alliance Europe participated at the launch of the artistic festival “Homes. Syrian stories through artists’ eyes” in the European Parliament in Brussels.

The cultural association L’Art9, designed this project with the intention of giving a voice to the Syrian culture, and understanding their common cultural identity. L’Art9 refers to the 9th article of the constitution, which aims at protecting heritage and landscape.

During this panel discussion, members of the European Parliament, Cultural Diplomacy experts, European External Action Service and artists, debated on the role of art as an instrument of cultural exchange, and on the future of the Syrian people in Europe or elsewhere.

Let’s not forget that before the civil war ravaged the country, Syria was considered as one of the leading centers of art in the Middle-East (Behrooz, 2017). Sadly, over 5 million people have been obliged to leave their homes since 2011, but Syrian artists have continued to place value on the importance of artistic production. Art is actually freedom for a short time for the ones still living there.

As Silvia Costa, a member of the European Parliament, claimed, culture is “one of the pillars of sustainable development along with social, economic, and environmental dimensions. If we do not promote culture, we will never achieve peace (…) because when you kill cultural heritage, you kill humanity”.

During this panel discussion, Manaf Halbouni, a German-Syrian artist, came up to present his work. His work refers to the current situation in Syria by creating links between Europe and Middle East, and hopes for peace and reconstruction. He is really putting a great deal of emphasis on public art, because it brings people together and makes them exchange. As Diego Marani, a famous writer and journalist, once claimed, “it is through arts that we are able to find an identity”.

World Youth Alliance strongly encourages those artists’ work, as they push individuals to move beyond oneself, to connect with a greater community, and to contribute to society and culture.

World Youth Alliance is closely related to this topic, as it organizes each year the European Arts Forum which gathers artists, art critics, scholars, European decision-makers and participants from across Europe for an exhibition, workshops, and conferences, that will examine the relationship between art and the common European values. World Youth Alliance strongly believes that art is the universal language that everyone can understand, as it speaks to the common ground of humanity.

Art ‘provides a window into the complexity, integrity, and beauty of human nature and the natural world. Art is an expression of human dignity and is an important part of the individual’s desire for self-expression in the world. Artists play a crucial role in understanding human life. In art and its transcendent journey, we experience the depth of our human freedom’ (as stated in the WYA Declaration on Beauty in art and Human Dignity).

Written by Astrid Leonet, an intern in the WYA Europe office.