It came as a surprise to me in late 2012, while I was still traveling different regions in Europe; one of my photographs was being exhibited amidst the turbulent war in the Middle East, Syria.
Issa Touma, the courageous curator, festival director, and founder of the Aleppo based Le Pont Organization had selected the ‘The Nowhere Man’ as one of the images to be on display at the 11th Aleppo International Photography Festival.
Title: ‘The Nowhere Man’
Artist´s Interpretation, Photo Caption: ‘The Nowhere Man’ is a staged portrait intended to personify the standstill portrait of a refugee. A victim of war, terror, violence, and discrimination – the state of a refugee is solitary, motionless, blank, filled with anger and frustration with nowhere to go. Human settlements around the world, especially around border regions are witness to these uncertain and tragic times that accompany the life of refugees.
Photographer: Allan Fernandes
CNN covered the photography exhibition and described it as the ´´festival of hope amid Aleppo fighting´´
It is indeed a great moment for me to be one of these select 48 artists from around the world, who have explored many photographic genre´s and created artistic works that are often par excellence.
I must mention here, for the knowledge of those reading this blog – Issa Touma has a long track record of supporting the Arts. In 1996, he opened the Le Pont Gallery, and in 1997, Le Pont hosted AIPF, which is said to be the first event in Western Asia to focus on contemporary international photography.
Since 1999, the organization has also hosted the International Woman’s Art Festival in Syria, an event that features variety of art – music, dance, theatre, sculpture, photography, performance, and video art.
“Art and culture do not need a visa to bring nations to meet each other.” – Issa Touma
Before the war in Syria, these activities of the Le Pont Organization, which include the Gallery, the Photography Festival, and the Woman’s Art Festival in Syria; annually drew more than of 25,000 visitors, including international students, diplomats and the general public.