|The al-Assad Campaign, Damascus 2008|
by Tim Smyth
Publication date: July 2014
Extent: 20 pp
Trim size: 288mm x 420mm
Photographs: 17 colour
During the 2011-12 Arab Spring, Bashar al-Assad’s tyrannical reign over the Syrian people came to a head. Through media coverage (albeit restricted), it was made clear to the world that the people of Syria had been oppressed by a dictator under the guise of reformation.
Looking back now at Tim Smyth’s photographs taken in Damascus, one year after al-Assad’s 2007 ‘re-election’ , one cannot help but see beyond the seemingly casual street scenes depicted in The al-Assad Campaign, Damascus 2008. However, taking a closer look at the images, one can find a visual connotation of al-Assad’s looming presence in the everyday lives of the Syrian people. In each picture a depiction of Assad’s face is materialised in posters, billboards, pendants and wire frame structures, as if watching over all Damascans, keeping them in check.
This newsprint publication is another demonstration of Tim Smyth’s ability to perfectly balance visual entertainment with underlying political and conceptual integrity. The publication is introduced with an essay by writer and curator Malu Halasa:
“Tim Smyth’s early morning forays into the Syrian capital is a walk that many have made, as visitors and journalists. At the time his photographs were taken, Damascus was being feted as a cultural capital. Bashar was spouting lofty ideals about “… freedom is a condition of our creativity and creativity and freedom can not be separated … His speech for the 2008 festivities rings horribly false now” .
Printed in an edition of 1000 copies.
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