Hafez al-Assad, father of the current President of Syria, speaks by telephone with Muhammed Faris, the first Syrian astronaut, while he is travelling in space as a research cosmonaut on the Russian spacecraft Soyuz TM-3 in 1987. ‘I inform you that, for the first time, we are flying above the sky of our beloved country Syria.’ Shown simultaneously with the conversation are images in which statues of Hafez al-Assad in Syria are being removed by the government headed by his son and successor Bashar. The aim is to protect and to replace them with Bashar al-Assad’s own image in the regime’s attempt to remedy an unavoidable situation by sacrificing the symbol to save the image.
Twenty-five years apart, these two moments in Syria’s contemporary history condense the political situation in the Arab countries. In this video installation, Ali Cherri combines scenes of protest with images of the government’s protective measures, thus contrasting two antithetical epics, the public conversation of a president and the demolition of his image.
While there are ideas about psychological and emotional developmental processes held within the sculptures I make, the things themselves are actual physical explorations into thinking, feeling, communicating and relating.