Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Burning

The Syrian Revolution

The Syrian Revolution is the first major popular revolution of the 21st Century. Like most popular revolutions, the erstwhile ideals of its early leaders, a group of secular nonviolence activists, were soon set aside as the violent crackdown unleashed by the Assad regime, with the support of its regional and international backers, most notably Iran and Russia, produced a similar violent backlash among its opponents.

Consequently, the country was plunged into a civil war in which various regional and international players cultivated their proxies along sectarian and ideological lines. The indifference of the international community and the unwillingness of major powers to push for a quick political solution, or to at least back moderate rebels at a time when they formed the majority of rebel fighters, have called into question the very legal and intellectual foundations of the new global order that seemed to be emerging following the end of the Cold War and the formulation of such legal doctrine as the Responsibility to Protect.

The Syrian Civil War has so far claimed close to 500,000 deaths by conservative estimates, dislocated more than half the country’s population of 23 million, with an estimated 6 million becoming refugees in neighboring countries and the European Union, and destroyed the majority of the country’s infrastructure. The result is the worst humanitarian disaster of the 21st Century, so far.

Technical Notes

I used the buildings that can be seen in the background of Delacroix’ original work, and used a tile technique and stark red and yellow colors to invoke the destruction of many of Syria’s towns and cities  under the aerial raids conducted by the Assad regime, and more recently his Russian backers. I chose to insert my own face as well to highlight my role as a witness and perhaps a contributor to the ongoing mayhem. This was one of my early attempts at deconstruction, but, despite its simple technique and more direct message, for me, it remains one of the most poignant pieces I managed to produce.

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