Lebanon, Syria
Art & PhotographyThe Arts

The Unbearable Lightness of Seeing

In his first solo UK show, “I, the Syrian”, Tammam Azzam translates war’s absurdities into a visual language that uses lightness to convey their gravity.

Its first absurdity–the transformation of home’s familiar shapes into an unrecognizable moonscape of shelling–becomes doubly surreal seen from afar, juxtaposed against the orderly, ordinary life humming along beyond its borders. Azzam’s art one-ups life, bringing these paradoxes into play through unlikely yet telling combinations.

Freedom Graffiti”, which went viral in early 2013, superimposed a Klimt painting of two lovers onto a mortar-pocked Damascus wall. His “Bon Voyage” series takes up another battle-scarred building and ties it to a festive bunch of balloons. Thus suspended, and miniaturized by the balloons, it floats over various peaceful landscapes as a tiny, incongruous exile. Hovering over London and Geneva, it is a vagrant envoy from a Syria still in limbo. “I, the Syrian” runs through January 30 in London and Beirut.

For more info – “I, the Syrian”

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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