Artwork by Fahed Halabi
Fahed Halabi was born in 1970 in Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights, a district that originally belongs to Syria. Since the Six-Day War of 1967, the western two-thirds of this district have been occupied by Israel. Since 2012 Fahed Halabi has been living in Hamburg, Germany. He studied Fine Arts at the Beit Berl School of Art (HaMidrasha) in Tel Aviv, Israel. The Beit Berl College is a multi-disciplinary academic institution that focuses on education, society, art, and culture. At Beit Berl, education is considered an important means to foster societal change and social justice, hence Israeli Jews and Arabs study side by side.
The print is a part of the Through Solidarity, We Survive initiative by CoCulture, Berlin, and is produced a limited edition of ten prints for Oslo World Festival. The art work is presented in Fotogalleriet's webshop as a part of the institution's collaboration with Oslo World Festival.
About the Artist
As a fine artist/plastic artist, Fahed Halabi gladly received this open invitation, as he likes to have cultural and creative communication with the largest possible number of people, particularly those who share with him common concerns and causes. Fahed Halabi was born in Majdal Shams in the occupied Syrian Golan. However, for private reasons, he studied plastic arts at one of the Israeli universities. He received his first degree in plastic art and an art instructor certification. About seven years ago, Fahed Halabi came to Germany and settled with his family in Hamburg. Here Fahed Halabi is trying to communicate with the cultural artistic community in the city in particular, and Germany and Europe in general.
COVID-19 Crisis affected Fahed Halabi, both his own way of thinking and his psychological state, as the case with many others. Of course, the crisis has affected his art production, and its consequences may last for a longer time. These three months of the ongoing crisis have raised many urgent and less urgent questions and concerns. The urgent major concerns, of course, have been the health concerns and the concern of staying safe from infection, including the concern of death. He had too the financial and economic concerns that one can gradually accommodate to. The concern that has emerged with an increasing urgency is the identity concern. Fahed Halabi has always been occupied with this issue, as he was born and raised in a political conflict region on the border between Syria, his homeland and the Israeli occupier, which he later grew up under their control. This situation was and has been a direct driver of the identity crisis with its dimensions, birth on the borders, growing up in two cultures and two struggling worlds, in addition to other interwoven worlds that deepen the identity crisis such as family, religion, family and others.
The COVID-19 crisis allowed Fahed Halabi to reflect on his own identity apart of the daily routine life concerns. Who am I? Who is the person who was born outside the geography of the motherland and in the heart of the struggle for physical and moral existence against the Israeli authorities? Who am I who decided to voluntarily immigrate away leaving my family, people and the Golan air to a strange country with its strange people and strange air? This isolation, despite the difficulty of familiarizing to it, enabled Fahed Halabi to positively reflect on these issues and other questions trying to find the proper answers. This isolation made him think how equal the human beings, despite the religious, political, ethnic, ideological, and financial differences and backgrounds. This virus, the invisible enemy, has spread and united the people in their fears and weakness. This virus united the entire world in a way that all religions, ideologies and parties failed to do.
The red and white nylon tape that has been worldwide used as a barrier to lock public places and parks as a sign of non-passage and quarantine was the primary raw material that caught Fahed Halabi attention. He made several attempts to use it to express the crisis until he decided that he himself would be the subject of quarantine or banning. This act came as a result of his feeling of imprisonment, restraint and forbidden movement since the beginning of COVID-19 crisis. This tape concealed his changing identity to the point of being unrecognisable, but completely abolished it and transformed him into a subject or something similar to anything else forbidden or suspected of danger. It is also similar to the mask function that suffocates us and eliminates our identity. We are all muzzled/masked, we are all metaphorically covered with the red and white tape, we are all suspected of the disease and the infection, we all are subject to quarantine. We all are equal human beings, so perhaps our solidarity is the only way to survive.