Journeys from an Absent Present to a Lost Past
15 April - 29 May 2022
This Spring, Fabrica and Brighton Festival co-present a series of artworks by the Syrian born, US-based architect and artist Mohamad Hafez, shown for the first time in the UK. These Intricate dioramas of streetscapes and rooms of Damascus reflect on the devastation of the city during the Syrian war. Strongly nostalgic and politically charged they capture the magnitude of the devastation and poignantly expose the fragility of human life. The exhibition will run from 15 April to 29 May 2022.
Mohamad Hafez describes the initial motivation for his work as being a deep homesickness. Having gone to the USA from Syria in 2003 on a single-entry visa to study architecture, he realised that he couldn’t return to his home country. As a way to address his longing for home he decided to conjure it through his art by drawing on the memories and sketches he had made whilst he was there to recreate in tiny but tangible form, the architecture and street scenes of his home city of Damascus.
The exhibition is part of Brighton Festival 2022. Syrian architect Marwa al-Sabouni is one of two Brighton Festival Guest directors in 2022. al-Sabouni has written two books: The Search for Home and Building for Hope. In these she looks at how the built environment directly affects the community that inhabits it and how cities and buildings might be rebuilt in the aftermath of conflict.
Monday - closed
Tuesday - closed
Wednesday - 12pm - 6pm
Thursday 12pm - 6pm
Friday 12pm - 6pm
Saturday 12pm - 6pm
Sunday - 12pm - 6pm
Free entry, donations welcome
Entrance on Ship Street
For more information about visiting us please see our Plan Your Visit page
What is home to you?
In his artwork Mohamad conjures memories of a home he couldn't return to. During the exhibition we’ll be asking visitors to create their own artwork or write on a postcard telling us, 'What is home to you?'. Your contribution will be displayed in the gallery will join 1000’s of others as part of Mohamad’s global research project about home.
Artist Residency: Ghost Homes
Earlier this year, Fabrica and Brighton Exiled/Refugee Trauma Services (BERTS) announced an artist residency opportunity for Spring 2022 to run alongside Fabrica’s exhibition ‘Journeys from Absent Present to a Lost Past’ by Mohamad Hafez. BERTS provide free specialist trauma counselling and psychotherapy to refugees or other local people living in exile.
Artist Tony Gammidge was selected for the residency; a filmmaker/animator and a state registered art therapist. During the residency Tony will be exploring and questioning the idea of home and what it means in the face of its loss and absence. Through personal experience and memories of homesickness he will build on the idea of a ‘ghost home’, one that perhaps survives in some form internally in the body or memory but doesn’t necessarily exist externally or in solid form. He will also draw on his participatory work with people who are asylum seekers and prisoners, all of whom have had different experiences of ‘home’, some good and some traumatic, but all of whom will know what it is to be severed from it.
Tony will be joined in this exploration by participants from BERTS (Brighton Exiled/Refugee Trauma services) and visitors to the exhibition are also welcome to join him on the dates below, when he will be working in the gallery:
Thursday 12 May, 1-5pm
Thursday 26 May, 1-5pm
Sunday 29 May 1-5pm
During Refugee Week, at a public event on 23 June, Tony will share his reflections and some of the work made during his residency. For tickets please see the events page on Fabrica’s website or ask a member of the gallery team for more information.
For bookings and the full exhibition programme of events visit fabrica.org.uk/events
Image: Paul Specht
Co-presented with Brighton Festival
A Syrian-American artist and architect, Mohamad Hafez was born in Damascus, raised in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and educated in the Midwestern United States. Expressing the juxtaposition of East and West within him, Hafez’s art reflects the political turmoil in the Middle East through the compilation of found objects, paint and scrap metal. Using his architectural skills, Hafez creates surrealistic Middle Eastern streetscapes that are architectural in their appearance yet politically charged in their content.
Responding to the atrocities of the Syrian war, Hafez’s recent work depicts cities besieged by the civil war to capture the magnitude of the devastation and to expose the fragility of human life. However, in contrast to the violence of war, his art imbues a subtle hopefulness through its deliberate incorporation of verses from the Holy Quran. At the core of Hafez’s work, the verses offer a distinct contrast between the stark pessimistic reality of destruction and the optimistic hope for a bright future. Scenes reiterate narratives from the Qur’an to affirm that, even during the darkest of times, patience is necessary for the blossoming of life and that, eventually, justice will prevail. - www.mohamadhafez.com