Laboratory of Arts - 2021

2021 Edition Grantees

Cinema and Animation

Amal Mohamad Shehab - A Bird, a Shoe, and a DShK Bullet

The movie is a long documentary accompanying artist Nassouh Zaghloula on his return to Syria and following the loss of his birds, for whom he had built nests during the past few years of the war. The loss inspired Zaghloula to create art. The movie looks into the meaning of home, loss, and the elements that bind us to the place, through the symbolism underlying Zaghloula's relationship with his birds and the tragic fate it has suffered.

Qusay Baz - Absence Blooms

A short feature film addressing human relationships in the modern city by examining the profiles of three characters living in the same city: a security guard obsessed with hygiene, a woman dreaming of her lover and a migrant freelance musician. The only link between the three characters is that they each, either directly or indirectly, meet a female beggar living in the city streets.

Raed Zeno - Asylum in the Ground

A long documentary shedding light on a set of true stories which document the suffering that follows the death of a refugee and the difficulty of finding a grave. The movie follows the relatives of the deceased as they struggle to find a burial spot or to transfer his body to a different country. The stories carry a host of paradoxes and images rich in emotions and questions.

Samer Salameh Abu Qatmeh - Notes of Darkness

A feature film based on author Fajr Yaacoub’s “Note of Darkness”. The movie follows the protagonist Mehyar, a young Syrian man fascinated by theatre and cinema. Mehyar takes the train from a remote station in France only to find himself in a bizarre place where people and events overlap between reality and imagination. These events have commonalities with English author Agatha Christie’s accounts of her experience writing the novel Murder on the Orient Express which she wrote during her stay in Aleppo, Syria.

Visual Arts

Alaa Hmedy - When the Reflections Devour their Mirrors

A series of video arts with inner voices tackle concepts and emotions relating to the universe, the human body, life as we know it and an imagined afterlife. They stem from the living human body burdened with difficulties, memories and ideas related to the original place of birth, whereby any attempts to revisit them would fall no short of a rebirth. The project raises questions on how to deal with one’s self and one’s body under entirely new circumstances that largely differ from what they had known in their previous life.

Fadi Alassaf - Liaison

An art exhibition and workshop aiming to research traditional Syrian motifs and patterns transferred to old textile using Hamawi textile printing techniques. The project also seeks to revive traditional vocabulary by repainting, and reproducing it on textile through manual inscription and printing and presenting them as visual works of art that follow the rules of art production, including balance, control, contrast, and different colours and textures.

Rita Adib - Dinosaurs and Her

A series of digital comics tackling the patriarchal system, inspired by stories and meetings that are engraved in our collective memory as Arab feminists. The project takes on a satirical and visual approach to the challenges that women face on a daily basis vis-à-vis chauvinist characters in public, private, political, professional and social spheres.

Yassen Shikh Alsagha - Expired

An artbook and photography exhibition, this project attempts to reuse a set of photographic material portraying the city of Damascus after the war and pandemic. Alsagha intentionally uses expired films to record fragments of life in the streets of Damascus as a commentary on the city’s residents and intricacies. 

Creative Writing

Emad Mufarah Mustafa - I am Satan

The story addresses the transformation in Syrian identity and the sense of belonging in the diaspora. It follows the course of a refugee’s life and its impact on both father and son’s generations, including behavior, opinions, and emotions, as well as psychological and mental projections about one's identity and others'. The novel is based on real live testimonials by Syrian nationals and transforms real documented events into a literary work of art.

Fatima Alhaji - The Last Letter

A story based on the real testimony of a Syrian woman from Qalamoun whose husband was subjected to forced disappearance in the early eighties of the last century, leaving her to fend for a large family alone. The novel attempts to shed light on her daily human struggle, and on how the family managed to cope with this tragic event, and the vacuum left by a deafening silence, along with suffocating and volatile political and social circumstances.

Rawaa Ahmed Sunbol - Do, Yak

A collection of stories representing life as a game of dice, involving victory and loss based on luck and coincidences. The project includes fifteen stories – the number of pieces allocated to each player. The collection tackles those who have remained. Since everyone here is at a loss, including survivors, live testimonials are the starting point for any story revolving around loss.

Yeser Berro - Song of Harsh Spring

The novel, which takes place between 2019 and 2020, follows a young man fleeing military service and a young photographer fleeing his father's home. Both attempt to escape the past and especially the guilt of their wrongdoings prior to the story. In the novel, the two men meet and try to answer the existential questions irking them.

Performing Arts

Kifah Mahmoud Zaini - The Countryside’s Elderly, Retirees, The Sergeant

A theatre trilogy where the scripts are separate in terms of time and space, yet the characters are from one family. The three acts can be showcased together as part of one show, or each presented as separate stand-alone shows. The scripts attempt to dissect the Syrian family and raise questions around identity and its manifestations by tapping into several problematic issues including old age, succession, and loss of property.

Lara Waled Eilo - Ode to a Lonely Woman

The play follows the story of a lonely woman as she tells her story of her suffering and adventure to a documentary filmmaker, amid the hustle and bustle of a parallel world outside. While the world may take over her voice sometimes, she continues to fight back to make her voice heard.

Muhammad Bitar - Circuit

A sound and motion performance that delves into relationships and the body's mutual interactions with its surroundings, in light of physical and psychological traumas. The performance is an experimental theatre function featuring several artists and will be showcased at the Rachid Karami International Fair Theatre, which has a special sound memory of its own, mainly echoing the war and its aftermath.

Rimi Sarmini - Honey, Sun, and Gold

A theatre performance featuring the story of a man in his thirties, who was forced to emigrate and travel between different countries around the world without any documents proving his nationality or gender. His quest for stability and love led him to theatre, where he compares his journey to that of “Rimi, the homeless boy without a family”, in an attempt to accept others and reject any discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and religious belief.


Amer Adel Ali - The Buzuq: The Science of Small Fingertips

A Buzuq learning manual that focuses on teaching children how to play the Buzuq through illustrated stories coupled with a CD containing exercise and Buzuq performances accompanied by the piano. The book involves a simple illustrated story plot, focusing on the learning process. The book is also addressed to teachers as it provides remarks and suggestions in every lesson.

Basma Jabr - Euphrates

A music album of 8 tracks shedding light on the birth of modern Arab tunes, featuring female singers who have marked Syria and Iraq between 1920 and 1960. The album consists of an eastern yet western, authentic yet contemporary rhythmic journey mixing old and new tunes. The songs, which date back to the last century, reminisce these beautiful female voices and ensure they are forever commemorated in history.

Maria Hasan - Monologues

A music album featuring 3 songs (Jaddef May, Hal ya Toura, Hanin). The name of the album “Monologues” was specifically selected, given the modern impression that the song titles leave on oneself, or between friends and small social circles. The three Monologues summarize the feelings, conversations, and inner deliberations that have taken place over the past decade, by tackling nostalgia and migration, and expressing that contradictory inner voice that is constantly swinging between reprimand, surrender, and the motivation to carry on.

Rami Aljoundi - Fire Painting

A music album consisting of four tracks featuring old Levantine tunes, scales, and musical instruments. The album also includes two songs: "Fire Painting" which mirrors the album title and "Enough intoxication" which tackles the daily struggles of our society.

Disclaimer: Yeser Berro has received the Laboratory of Arts grant, and was selected for this year’s AJYAL programme grant, and according to the internal regulations of Ettijahat – Independent Culture organization that do not support the applicant’s obtaining two grants at the same time in order to expand the opportunities for support, and that the applicant had previously stated during the application that it is preferable to obtain The Laboratory of Arts programme grant over AJYAL programme grant, therefore, its grant in the AJYAL programme will be transferred to the next first name in the reserve list.

Jury Committees:

Cinema and Animation: Amer Shomali (Palestine), Hala al Abdullah (Syria), Mohammad Shawky Hassan (Egypt)
Visual Arts: Rana El Nemr (Egypt), Reem Yassouf (Syria), Yasser al Safi (Syria)
Creative Writing: Adania Shebli (Palestine), Khaled Khalifa (Syria), Raed Wahesh (Syria)
Performing Arts: Ahmed El Attar (Egypt), Khaled Ben Gharib (Morocco), Liwaa Yazaji (Syria)
Music: Dima Orsho (Syria), Kareem Rustom (Syria), Toufic Farroukh (Lebanon)


This edition of Laboratory of Arts is launched with the support of the Ford Foundation, Goethe-Institut, Allianz Kulturstiftung, and the Dutch Lottery Foundation DOEN, in collaboration with Mamdouh Adwan Publishing House.

© الحقوق محفوظة اتجاهات- ثقافة مستقلة 2024
تم دعم تأسيس اتجاهات. ثقافة مستقلة بمنحة من برنامج عبارة - مؤسسة المورد الثقافي