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Crossing Borders Maa’Bar

Artist:
Tammam Azzam
Year: 2016
Type: 
  • Other
Medium(s): 
  • Cement / Concrete
  • Clothes
  • Plants
  • Steel
  • Suitcases
Status: Decommissioned

Description

This temporary art installation was created as part of the Vancouver Art Biennale. Crossing Borders Maa’bar was a sculpture made from more than sixty suitcases, obtained via a social-media campaign through donations made by citizens and local businesses.

Artist Statement

I associated these suitcases with troubled memories at airports and border crossings rather than moments of pleasurable escape and relaxing vacations. Following the outbreak of violence in Syria, I was forced to flee to Dubai. Having left behind my painting supplies and other equipment, I challenged myself to adapt and expand my practice to include digital media and street art, both powerful tools for public engagement. Remarkably, it took four attempts to secure a visa in order to enter Canada and participate in the Biennale’s 2015 International Residency Program. Indeed, the theme of this Biennale, Open Borders/Crossroads Vancouver, was intimately grasped by me (and my family).”

Tammam Azzam, born in Damascus and currently based in Berlin, is represented by Kornfeld gallery. Graduating from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus in 2001, he honed his skills through workshops with renowned painters like Marwan, who greatly influenced his career.

Initially working in mixed media, Azzam shifted his focus to express the tragedy of his war-torn homeland, creating poignant artworks depicting the destroyed cityscape of Damascus. His acclaimed Syrian Museum series gained viral attention in 2013 for overlaying photos of destroyed buildings with iconic European master paintings.

In 2016, Azzam moved to Germany, where he explored paper-collage techniques alongside paintings, highlighting the physical remnants of conflict and the importance of rebuilding. His works have been exhibited worldwide, including at Ayyam Gallery in Dubai, Art Dubai, Untitled Miami, and Haines Gallery in San Francisco. Notably, his pieces are housed in prestigious institutions like the Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah and the For Site Foundation in San Francisco.

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