Aleppo International Photography Festival


An Invitation to the Future - The Future Will Not Stop!

The ancient Syrian city of Aleppo has suffered much from the pain and degradation of internecine war, the destruction of culture and the further breakdown of unity between its people. This article is not the place for exploring or even attempting to understand the complexities of the politics of it all, let alone what is happening on the ground. The news is always bad and being news always seems to seek out the worst.

Our own press in this small East Midlands town of Loughborough recently carried a more positive story of a local resident and restaurant owner who was determined to return to Syria to deliver supplies to people affected by the fighting. I have talked to him about his concerns for the country and for his family there and feel relieved that he has returned to his wife and children, and to us, safely.

I also have a great sense of relief that Issa Touma, founder of the Aleppo based Le Pont Organisation is still safe and well and as determined as ever that education, art and culture, not weapons, political or religious identity will win the war for Syria’s soul and future.

Issa is keen that the world should know that there are Syrians who believe in a non-sectarian future for Syria, who believe in the importance of a free, secular state and freedom of thought and for this reason he is inviting photographers the world over to submit work for the 12th International Photography Festival in Aleppo in September 2014.

Issa has a long track record of supporting the arts. In 1992, he established his first gallery and after its closure in 1996, he opened Le Pont Gallery, which continues to be the only gallery dedicated to photography in the region.

In 1997, Le Pont hosted the first contemporary international photography event in the Middle East, the International Photography Festival in Aleppo. The event has grown from 600 visitors in its first year to more than 7,000 in 2004. Since 1999, the organization has also hosted the International Woman’s Art Festival in Syria, an event that features a variety of art from music, dance, and theatre to sculpture, photography, performance, and video art. In addition, the New Line Art Organization was founded in association with Le Pont in 2009. With the goal of encouraging a broader knowledge, appreciation, and practice of all modern art forms in the Middle East.

The activities of Touma and his group, the Le Pont Organization, which include the gallery, the Photography Festival and the Woman’s Art Festival, annually draw in excess of 25,000 visitors, including international students, diplomats and the general public. Last year the festival still took place despite the fighting, the dangers of snipers and bombing.

A recent post from the Aleppo Photography Festival is a heart rending plea for the ascendency of art and culture above the killing and madness that has invaded everyday life.

“If there is still some one around the world, reading this text and trying to support Art and Life Movements in Aleppo and Syria, the city will not die and war will not be the winner".

People who are brave and courageous are most often the last to acknowledge it. People who are committed and determined to act for good in this world, against the odds and over time have a different sort of bravery and courage - not something in the moment, a reaction but rather a deeply held belief and energy to bring their life and energy to the benefit of humanity. I believe that the arts and cultural work of Issa Touma and the Le Pont Organisation is a beacon of such humanity and hope for this remarkable nation struggling through its pain towards a new beginning.



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Aleppo International Photography Festival 2014

Aleppo International Photography Festival 2014

Thu 30th May, 2013

“The Future Will Not Stop - we in Syria are waiting to see and welcome more national and international photographers and artists to send us their work. Whatever happens, Art and Culture will once .. Read More »


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