A Conversation with Issa Touma

Authorship & Agency Lecture Series #3
Tuesday, November 21, 2017 at 1 PM – 3 PM
Art House, Lämpömiehenkuja 3

In the third session of Authorship & Agency: Learning from the Middle East, Art, Micro-politics and Everyday Aesthetics, we have invited Issa Touma, a photographer, and filmmaker based in Aleppo, Syria. He will be sharing with us his thoughts about returning home to Aleppo city and his plans and role as an artist in the future of the city.

Issa Touma is a self-taught photographer & Film director based in Aleppo whose work can be found in several international collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London & FOMU Museum in Antwerpen. In 1992 he opened the Black and White Gallery, the first exhibition space dedicated to photography in the Middle East. After its closure in 1996, he founded Le Pont, an independent organization and gallery that promotes freedom of expression and stimulates the local art scene through international events: the International Photo Festival (first held in 1997) and the International Women’s Art Festival (launched in 1999). In 2012, shortly after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, Le Pont initiated Art Camping, for Syrian refugees and citizens of Aleppo. This unique collaborative project, whose participants come from different religious and ethnic backgrounds, attempts to foster resistance to political and religious radicalism through artistic interventions and cultural dialogue. Issa Touma was an Artists at Risk (AR) Resident at AR-Safe Haven Helsinki in Winter 2014 in co-operation with Perpetuum Mobile and HIAP. During the years 2015 & 2016, he opened two photographic exhibitions: stories from Lost Cities and Women We Have Not Lost Yet, the latter tells the stories of those who lived through the crisis in Syria. In 2016, Issa Touma’s short film ‘9 Days From My Window In Aleppo’ won several awards such as European Film Award and London Film Festival for the Best Short Film. He is also the winner of the Tribute Award at the International Short Film Festival in New York. His new movie ‘Greetings from Aleppo’ opened the IFFR (International Film Festival of Rotterdam – Jan 2017) and it won DIG AWARD in Italy. At the moment he is an artist in residence in the Swedish city of Gävle with a scholarship from ICORN.