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Erasing misconceptions of war through storytelling

by Ana Lucia Londono Flores November 26, 2019
Erasing misconceptions of war through storytelling

Syrian refugee creates exhibition to highlight afflictions of the Syrian War

(Re)viewing the Syrian War: Stories from a member of the Red Crescent presents the work of exhibition curator Abood Hamad, a Syrian refugee who worked as a humanitarian aid worker and an aid trainer in the Syrian Arabic Red Crescent. Humanitarian work  was urgently needed during the war because of the dangerous conditions in the country.

The exhibition reflects Hamad’s experience while working with the Red Crescent between 2010 and 2016. (Re)viewing the Syrian War challenges misconceptions that North Americans tend to have about Syria.

“Misconceptions tend to be heard when I speak to people about daily life in Syria during the war,” Hamad said. “This can be when I speak about the country’s religion, history or the weather.”

This is the first time that Hamad has curated an exhibition. He has been working on it for six months, and is feeling excited.

“It’s a great chance for me to connect with Montrealers around a topic I care about,” he said. “After six months of hard work, I wonder if it will have the impact that I’ve been hoping to obtain.”

Hamad arrived in Canada in 2017; he has only known English for two years.

“I also feel a little bit nervous to present my work in a language that I’m still learning,” he said. 

The exhibition presents a collection of images, videos, objects and personal stories written by Hamad. Preparing all of this was difficult for him. The writing process brought him memories of his time working in Damascus, Homs and other parts of Syria. “I think it’s valuable to share these memories,” Hamad said. He hopes his work will help the public better understand the experiences that some newcomers from the Middle East have lived.

According to Hamad, North American news media have their own ways of depicting war, which has resulted in some distorted perceptions. “To understand the situation in Syria, I think that the public has to listen to those who’ve survived the war and lived it,” Hamad said. “This exhibition is an opportunity for the public to do so.”

Additionally, the exhibition provides insight as to how the war affects Syrian children. “In my opinion, children are the most affected,” Hamad said, adding that he served as a child psychosocial aid worker during the war.

The exhibition is also related to two other events: Syrian Art as Transformative Energy, which will be presented on Nov. 29 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. by Alma Salem, and Two Years in Canada: A Conversation about a Syrian-Canadian Friendship, a discussion that will be held on Dec. 4 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. During which, Hamad will speak about moving to Canada and the way his newly formed relationships have supported him through his journey until the present day.

The events will be held in the Curating and Public Scholarship Lab in the library building, (LB-672, 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W).

(Re)viewing the Syrian War will be open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m as of Nov. 28 until Dec. 13.

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