Thoughts on a Vague Road


20 MArch – 22 MAy 2021

What would it be like if you had to leave your home, facing severe risks on the way to who-knows-where, reaching a place where you may not know the culture or the language, being away from your home and often without your family and friends?

Here, in the new land, you are told that you are lucky to have the chance to start a new life, but what is the plan for tomorrow?

Not so long ago, you had a vision and your plan for the future, but all that is gone now. The war in your country broke your dream, and you have yet to determine if you will ever return to your homeland. The past is painful, the future is vague and you are standing between the two. In the new place, you have met many new people. You want to share your past, show how beautiful your life was before the war, and convey the true image of your beloved Syria before the war. You want to smile at them, answer each question they have for you, and to show that you are grateful to be here.


In my line of work as a curator, I am used to giving interviews. Since the war started, I have faced many questions about my country. I once realized that every time I explained the situation, I added, ”It’s so complicated to explain.” I find many times that words are insufficient. How can you explain this pain without looking broken or feeling that you are losing your dignity? How does one stay real and not feel bare and emotional? How can you express the sadness and the yearning for what used to be?

Most of the time, when you speak, you feel that you have not rightly expressed your feelings, and you look back, hating the moment that you were unsuccessful at hiding your tears. How can you transform your pain into words? What kind of phrases can you use to explain your loss? How will you avoid looking heartbroken? Can one avoid talking about the war? Sometimes you will be able to and feel relieved, but the next day you will feel guilty that you didn’t defend your dear country and show at least part of the real image, the image that isn’t being portrayed.

Words fail!

Art is a common language that can reach people. It provides a compelling way out of this dilemma in which we cannot communicate these difficult feelings. It allows those who have experienced acute hardship to process their pain gently and offers the glimmer of hope that speaking about their experience might change the world for the better so that others in humanity might never experience that tragedy. Through viewing art, we can tune into the voices of those speaking against the war and draw attention to those who suffer.

Art allows people to bring to light the hard parts of their memories, to convey the losses they have experienced, and to communicate the pain of being away from their homes. I have selected five Syrian artists who left Syria for this exhibition because of the war. Their works connect the viewer to various points and aspects of the artist’s life and experience. They represent themselves and many other people who might find themselves speechless in the face of the war.

Abir Boukhari

Stockholm/ august 2017


Rezan Arab

Foto: Peter Rosvik

Outside time and space

Outside Time and Space, 2015/2016/2017/2018
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas

In his work, Rezan Arab evokes the situation of man in exile, and the experiance of being ”in between” the past and the current moment.

The artist describes his relation-ship with space and time where life in the new land looks like an illusion with no clear plan for tomorrow, and at the same time with the hopes that he will soon succeed at being part of life there. As a parallel, he presents his irtual life where he is in constant contact with his homeland and his family.



Mahmoud Dayoub

Mahmoud Dayoub
Mahmoud Dayoub

Foto: Peter Rosvik


I am Lost (Jag är vilse), 2017/2018
Teknik: Akrylmålningar

I am the Sinbad of Today
Rowing with no hands
Navigating with no direction
Searching for my own tomorrow
I have nothing to lose, but memories and broken country
Am I going to find a land?
One day I had hope and future, I had home
I am a stray sailor in this world
Who is forced to travel nowhere
Looking for a haven to find rest… will I find it in death?

/Mahmoud Dayoub


Nisrine Boukhari

Nisrine Boukhari

Stillbilder ur "The Blue was More Distant than the Sky

The blue was more distant than the sky

The blue was more distant than the sky, 2020/2021
Medium: Videoinstallation
9:07 min

In exile, a writer struggles to write a story and find a realistic act that could bring it to life. We don’t know what the story or the book about as we are following hallucinations of the writer’s attempts to write this book. Exile is like a limbo state where the writer lost connections to reality and entered into a trans-state between Earth and the sky where distance is blurred.

The actorless video of the sky loops continuously as a void circle of an absurd and confusing talk in the blue. Without distinguishing precisely, the sentences belong to whom nor when started or where it ends; this hypnotic-like experience intends to put the viewer in a mind-wandering state.

”The blue was more distant than the sky” is another step in the concept of ’One Person Cinema’, which I started in 2016. It is made to be watched individually in the space for the viewer to feel integrated or implicated.

This work came after a year of the lockdown experience because of the Pandemic. Staring at the sky became a daily practice in a socially isolated state I lived in—a meditative and contemplative way to cope with the situation. I thought, through the sky, the blue, reading the clouds’ movement I would find an answer, any answer for the limbo we live where it became an exile within exile.

/Nisrine Boukhari

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali

Foto: Peter Rosvik

A step into nowhere

A Step into Nowhere, 2021
Installation, mixed media

We are ready to move; I don’t know from where to where. A pile of stuff everywhere; It is a chaos of broken hearts. Our body is absent, and everything is unstable. The clock stopped ticking, and the eyes cannot realize what they see. The only thing to hold is vague memories wrapping the stuff.

I do not know where I/we will end up.

What you will see here does not need to be about my history or my pain. This scene has been taken from an unspecified place and time.

It might be about me, you, or anyone. We all might find ourselves in an obligatory transforming moment where we are incapable of choosing a path for different circumstances. 

Who can predict the future or what will occur?

/Muhammad Ali


Diana Jabi

Diana Jabi
Diana Jabi

Foto: Peter Rosvik

Home sweet home

Home Sweet Home, 2016-2020
Gold embroidery

Being out of Damascus, in the last few years, has forced me to think alot about the meaning of missing home. This deep, sad feeling that you can never understand, nor stop. But it is compelling to thiink about your true home, and for me it is the old town of Damascus. That is where I feel homecoming, that is my ”Home sweet home.”

In this work, I embroidered the map of the old town of Damascus. A meditation with my piece while thinking about my sacred place.

/Diana Jabi