Late last year York College Galleries in Pennsylvania hosted Arab Spring (Unfinished Journeys), the solo exhibition of artist Helen Zughaib.
The exhibition’s featured paintings, installations, and conceptual works were created between 2008 and 2016. In these years, Zughaib watched the 2008/2009 attack on Gaza from afar, responding with scenes of grief-stricken, weeping women paralyzed beneath the fall of bombs. She also returned to her native Lebanon for the first time since fleeing war-torn Beirut in the 1970s, and produced a series of text-based paintings. Later she was hopeful when uprisings swept across North Africa and the Middle East, cloaking her figures in spiraling floral patterns; but soon began to document the number of Syrian civilians killed since 2012 with a series of public performances and related images. More recently, she has created a number of conceptual works that describe the difficulties of the mass migration that has swept across Europe from North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, particularly for children.
Narrated by the artist, the short film below (produced by York College Galleries) takes viewers into Arab Spring (Unfinished Journeys), revealing what inspired many of the included works and how concepts and forms aim to record the mounting devastation of this time.
Thanks to Matthew Clay-Robison, director of York College Galleries, for allowing Jadaliyya to feature this film.
Helen Zughaib at York College from Jadaliyya on Vimeo.