Dear Reader, recently, we attended a meeting of Syrian artists where someone observed that “Syrian culture is outside of Syria.” While one could argue that point — because there certainly is still culture in Syria — the truth is that the vast majority of the country’s artists, writers, thinkers, and cultural activists are indeed living in exile. In the beginning, Lebanon, Turkey, and France were the primary destinations for those fleeing the war and the oppression of the Syrian secret police, but gradually, Germany — and Berlin in particular — has become the destination of choice for Syrian writers and artists. More than the last stop on a grim odyssey, Berlin has blossomed into a new center for Syrian culture abroad.
This magazine came into existence because history made a certain group of people meet in Berlin in 2015 – a Syrian-Palestine poet and screenwriter, a Syrian theatre director, and a German publisher. Inspired by each other’s passion for storytelling, we wanted to testify to the vibrancy of Syrian culture in its new setting and highlight not only Syrian artists’ contributions to the German creative scene, but the resonances between the two countries’ histories. A Syrious Look, therefore, is not only about Syrians, made by Syrians for a Syrian audience; it’s not a refugee newspaper. It is rather a document dedicated to exploring exiled Syrian culture from different national and creative perspectives, and to chronicling a remarkable if horrible historical moment of history that we, Syrians and Berliners alike, are suddenly and unexpectedly sharing. Since we speak English among ourselves and since English has become a global lingua franca, we decided to publish our magazine in English, too.
As for the future: we don’t have predictions as much as hopes. A Syrious Look was made in a city that was reduced to rubble in 1945, just as Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, and Deir ez-Zor are being destroyed today. But just as Berlin rose from the ashes to become one of Europe’s most vibrant and creative capitals, so, too, may Damascus become a city of peace and freedom. It sounds unrealistic, we know — as unbelievable as Berlin’s bright future seemed in 1945.
Let’s give it a syrious look.
Mohammad Abou Laban, Ziad Adwan, Mario Münster