During the Arab Spring in 2011, citizens in Syria took to the streets to demand reforms. The regime of Bashar al-Assad responded with a brutal crack-down by security forces. Peaceful opposition turned into an uprising ten years ago, on 15 March 2011, when large demonstrations were held in major cities. In the following years, the uprising slowly developed into a multi-sided civil war, with ever-splintering opposition groups, supported by weapons and money from Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, USA, and Russia. For years, the conflict featured prominently in the Western news media, but by now global interest has faded away.
The International New York Times ran thousands of articles and photographs of the conflict. In just a handful of these photographs, an individual looks directly into the camera as their likeness is captured: demonstrator, opposition fighter, ISIS follower, government soldier, civilian; children, women, men, seeking refuge from the violence. They look into the camera, skeptical, guarded, tired, hopeful, beaten. These people are well aware of the gaze of the camera and its implications. They know that they are to become an image in the Western news media. Nevertheless, their gazes connect us, the news audience in the West, on a very human level with the street in Syria. They bring the war very close. Their gazes remind us to look, to notice. They urge us not to forget the war in Syria and to intervene however possible.
Ten years after the beginning of the uprising, from 15 March 2021 onwards, the poster series will deliver the gazes from ten years of violent conflict in Syria to the streets of Amsterdam, on the date they were published in the newspaper.