The art of war

The art of war
Syrian performance group Dayaah al-Tasseh explores experiences of revolution through music and film in attempt to revive country's culture.
3 min read
04 December, 2014
Several of Dayaah al-Tasseh's productions are on Youtube (screenshot) [Al-Araby]

Many Syrians have found a way to conceptualise the destruction and bloodshed that has blighted their country over the last few years through art. In art, the limits of the world can be transcended. Ideas, feelings and events, good and bad, can be explored and criticised through film, sketches and music.

Dayaah al-Tasseh is an artistic performance group of young Syrians inside Syria and in Turkey that has set out to do just that. Formed about a year and a half ago, their name literally means "the bath pot is lost", an expression used to describe the state of confusion and uncertainty they felt summed up the feelings of many Syrians.

The group has used film and sketches to provide social and political commentary on what has happened and is happening in Syria today.

Maen Watfah, the group's director told al-Araby al-Jadeed that the group hoped that by reviving culture they could help revive a sense of civic life: "We chose the format that is closest to our audience, which is satire of the Syrian regime to begin with, then satire of the revolutionaries, who have themselves made mistakes. Recently, most of our work has been against those who attempted to steal the revolution and divert it from its course."

In part, said Watfah, the Syrian uprising is stuck in what he called a "reactionary stage", one from which the Syrian regime benefits. Opposition sectarianism, he said, has been used by the government in Damascus to "tarnish the revolution".

And the company also tries to include an almost education component.

We shed light on the components of a civil state like religious and intellectual freedom far from extremism.

"We shed light on the essential components of a civil state such as political parties, freedoms, religious freedom, and intellectual freedom away from extremism, in a manner that is appropriate for the reality on the ground in Syria."

Dayaah al-Tasseh has produced a number of satires, documentaries and short movies for children that have been shown on local and regional Arab television channels. It has recently finished an eight episode series criticising the Islamic State group.

Watfah believes that art can resonate louder than bombs and bullets, especially among civilians as armed groups are a transient phenomenon.

The group refuses the depiction of the Syrian revolution as a civil war and dedicates its efforts to countering that view. Watfah blames the inactivity of world powers for the rise of extremism in Syria.

Lack of equipment has been the largest obstacle the group has faced, Watfah said.

The group is currently studying the possibility of establishing a cinema in Aleppo in one of the areas under opposition control for the group to show their work.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.