September 21, 2021
It’s the most complicated print I have made so far. It consists of two photos I took in Aleppo in December 2016, and a reproduction from the Internet of Michelangelo Caravaggio’s famous painting, The Entombment of Christ which he painted in 1603-1604.
I took many pictures in those few days in Aleppo – see my documentary series here. I was one of a very small number of Westerners who were present when Eastern Aleppo was liberated from 4,5 years of occupation by Al-Nusra, Uyghur terrorists and other terrorist factions, all helped by Turkey which stole everything of value there and brought it to Turkey on trucks to sell and finance more terrorism.
To me, the image of the yellow truck with its thousands of holes signifies the type of warfare – billions of bullets sprayed from windows, flats, street-to-street – that destroyed Eastern Aleppo. Only very little was destroyed from the air as the Western media kept telling you.
But there were many lies back then.
The dark blu image was shot from my hotel room in Western Aleppo toward the Eastern part. Terrorist action lit up the air from time to time with various types of missiles in those last few hours of the war before they ran away to Idlib and Turkey. Rockets and grenades fell as close as 300-400 meters from the hotel.
As you’ll see from the documentary series, the destruction was systematic and left only skeletons standing as monuments to Western full spectrum cruelty in a foreign land where no NATO country had anything to do. The suffering of the people I talked with was heartbreaking. I’ve seen war and destruction in Georgia and all parts of former Yugoslavia but nothing compares for me to Aleppo.
Therefore, I wanted to make something that would process my painful experience and also make a political statement: It was the West that destroyed Syria, Syria was much less a civil/domestic war, it was overwhelmingly an international regime-change attempt. It was yet another onslaught by Christian culture on a Muslim country which was also a remarkable piece of world culture and humanity’s heritage.
Aleppo must have been extremely beautiful, the East in particular, before it was destroyed. It was also, together with Damascus, the last leg of the old Silk Roads.
Here is a short illustration from EuroNews of the before-and-after the war:
And here UNESCO’s page for the ancient city of Aleppo.
Indeed, it is no wonder why you have not heard about Aleppo – or generally about the violence on Syria since the liberation of Aleppo. It is too shameful for the US and other NATO members – and they know it but would never admit it.
I created the collage print in early 2021 for the exhibition “US China & Mona Lisa.” When I say it was complex, it has to do with how the three pieces could be fit into each other. And not only that, I made a lot of digital brush and pencil details, wanted to preserve as much of each image as possible but also let various parts fade into other parts. For instance, how to make those big feet stand on top of what I assume was some shop or restaurant front and make Christ’s – famous – hand/finger just touch the top of that orange truck where it has taken a particular hit? How to make the white cloth fall along the back of the truck? And how to move Caravaggio’s green plant much further down than it is in the original, to the lower-left corner?
Or, how to make the city buildings move down the man’s back while also making the crying women’s faces rather sharp like hovering over the city while being hit by the missiles? How to blur and sharpen tiny-tiny areas until I was satisfied?
No, it’s not just three pictures placed on top of each other and then adjusted with some percentage of transparency; far from it.
And what does it convey? It conveys a surreal, senseless destruction that must, simply, never be forgotten.
It’s a personal memory with as much pain inside as the one can have who is only a spectator, a visitor – but was never living there. It’s a comment on the utter absurdity of war and, in the Gandhian sense, a reminder of the fact that the one who commits violence is also hurt by it.
Thus, the global war on Syria has contributed immensely to the decline of the West itself – as has Afghanistan since October 7, 2001 and the tragic withdrawal from it dated August 15, 2021. The two wars – with that on Iraq, Libya, Yemen etc. are all elements of the mad – yes mad – Global War on Terror, GWOT, that the administration of George W. Bush began with the massive attack on Afghanistan.
But beyond anything else I wanted to say that Christian culture, symbolised here by Christ, was buried in Aleppo too. No one who has visited the destruction of Syria, of Eastern Aleppo, can possibly believe in that Western culture as a force for good.
Parts of the West’s manifest decline is due to militarism, to cruelty and to the lies covering up what we in the West have done to other cultures, peoples and humanity’s heritage. Time and again. We have buried parts of this West in Aleppo, in Syria. That story of destruction can never be deleted, cancelled, covered up.
It’s a major part of world history. It can never be bombed away.
The Christian West lost its soul there.
And I was present. I was a witness with a duty to tell it.
With this work, I did. Also because I could not not tell it.
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