On In Travel & Photography

Dutch Artist Recreates The Effects Of Aleppo War Through Miniatures And It Is Horrifying 

The six-year long battle of Syria has taken lives of hundreds of thousands people while over 11 million Syrians are still on the run. Aleppo, which is the largest city, is also the country's financial hub.   It was on July 19, 2012, when the fighting began in Aleppo. However, in the commemoration of the painful day, a miniature of the totally damaged city was displayed at the Museum Square in Amsterdam, a few days back. The pop-up installation was titled, ‘Living Aleppo' and covered an area of 20 square metres. It is created and developed by Dutch artist Saskia Stolz who is also the founder of Power of Art House - an organisation of artistic designers, producers, socio-cultural entrepreneurs and other creative thinkers who launch creative campaigns and interventions that bring the socio-cultural themes into the limelight. This organisation is known for utilising street art as a weapon in highlighting politicised issues, making it accessible to a wider audience.    

The installation presents life in Aleppo before and during the war. 

The miniature portrays the stories of dozens of people from diverse backgrounds during the bombings and how they survived violence. The small-scale version shows what the life has been like in the city from different perspectives.    

The idea is to present the life in Aleppo.  

It reflects how everyday life goes on in the city, which symbolises distrust and fear. The installation raises the question: "How does one rebuild a devastated city; and not just the buildings made of concrete, but also the trust made out of bonds of humanity?"Designer Bengin Dawod successfully demonstrated his vision on the reconstruction of the city in a provocative manner.    

The war images raise an important question:

"What do we really know about the Syrian culture? Are we capable of looking beyond the ‘refugee' or ‘terrorist' label?" As per reports, organisation spoke to various people about the Syrians, who said, "Men in white dresses on camels" or "Poor bastards here to earn money."   

A combination and a contradiction of hope and despair.

The city also reflects the combination of trust and distrust, love and hate, beauty and destruction, faith and disbelief.  

It is built in different layers with construction waste.

Describing the installation, Stolz said, “Aleppo is much more than a devastated city. Lives were not only been created but also destroyed here. Families were founded here but also torn apart. Studies, careers and ambitions started here or ended here. We have not made anything more beautiful, but also not more dramatic.” 

It was a huge pile of waste from which Alpeppo stories emerged. 

The city is progressive. But it is also a society inflicted with oppression and deprivation.   

The stories were collected from different people. 

The organisation talked to different sections of society in Aleppo to get a complete picture. For instance, Arab student talked about how students gave their exams only one week after the bombings, a Palestinian aid worker talked about his life under the Assad regime, a Kurdish activist about his time in prison, a Christian stewardess talked about the rights of women in Syria.  

The installation received contribution of national and international artists.

Like the Syrian artist Husam Muhajer who created a miniature of Citadel in Aleppo and Syrian architect Bengin Dawod who did the visualisation on the reconstruction of Aleppo. Esther van der Ham painted a number of miniature schools in a refugee camp near Aleppo.