When I was in Amman I was watching the news one morning after just having read an article online related to the same issue, and was shocked by the contradicting opinions.
The issue being discussed was about the midnight mass in Jerusalem on Christmas Eve; online it stated that people were calm and collected and the general public were dressed in costumes, giving gifts and music played, whereas on the news channel it stated that security was tightened and the atmosphere was uneasy and they were expecting protests; none of which was true.
This got me thinking about how subjective the media could be about real news but also how media in different countries (in the West in comparison to the Middle East) emphasizes different sides of the story. I decided to focus on this concept in my work and try to explore the uses of different headlines and words to create contradicting feelings in the pieces.
These are some photos of an unfinished piece I’ve done in oil paints with mixed media (collages cut outs from newspaper articles). In relation to the color theory workshops I’ve been going to however in our Field module, I’ve decided to work on the background colors because I feel like they do not support the portrait well. I want to create a negative feeling in the background however ensure the calligraphy and words written (eg. the word in the front which translates to “the future”) are emphasized well and stand out more.
I’ve started to notice myself painting and writing over pictures of the children in the refugee camps and drawing their facial expressions a lot. I love doing this to focus on specific features and really exaggerate a feeling in a picture. I’ve been cutting out articles and pictures and constantly reading up on stories related to the refugees and the conflicts in the countries around Jordan, suffering with war. I started to turn my space into a bubble of research and journal in its own right.
I started to think about what aspects I wanted to focus on in relation to the media; I realized I didn’t want to go into a broad area of the subject and I narrowed it down to the ones most affected in conflict; the children and their uncertain future as refugees. I started to compare facial expressions with some of my friends photos then (as kids) and now to see if the same facial expressions captured were ‘less honest’ looking or influenced by the life events that occurred after the first photo was taken.
The differences in western and middle eastern childhoods however was a factor I had to keep in mind as both could not be more different from one another; however I was focusing on a child’s honesty and innocence in general.
I started to document and hang up articles from local (Welsh) and Jordanian newspapers that stood out to me. Whether it was titles of articles or pictures related that caught my attention. I started to write down words related that translate (as seen on the brown paper) “bravery”, “the future” and “loss”. I’ve also started to research refugees in the Jordanian Zaatari refugee camp and the children affected specifically; the most innocent and most traumatized of the affected population.
This is a low resolution (as signal was weak) screenshot I took of a live stream that a reporter had filmed from his home in Gaza during one of the many bomb raids. This was hard to watch but I find as I submerge myself more and more into researching the media and the lack of coverage, the more frustrated I get. There was not even mention of this on any news station; this was all real and live however there for anyone to watch and share the experience with. A heartbreaking moment.
This is the original graffiti/painting mural piece that the duo known as “Herakut”, that I decided to use as a starting point for my subject area project. The piece is located in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan for the Syrians who take refuge there. It was done by the duo with the help of the children in the camp (a collaborative and involving piece).
The artists use a unique style of mixed graffiti and emulsion paints combining detailed parts and rough texture to create the final pieces with vibrant and bold patterns and colors.
The child seen in the painting is building the word “home” out of playing blocks; the child is rebuilding his home/life. This piece touched me the most from their series of work done in the Zaatari camp, and its sublet yet powerful message is the effect I want to make using my work in response to this. I want to create similar bold and colorful pieces of work with similar subtle messages conveying a powerful message.
I created a mind map to help me figure out what I was most interested and inspired by about the artists that I have been researching linked to my subject work. This helped me clear out the extra information about the artists and gave me something to look at for quick inspiration. Each artist; unique in practice and concepts but all related to the of conflict and oppression.