تنقيب السماء – مشروع بحثي عن سوريا / excavating the sky – a Research Project on Syria

مسرح،  قسم المونديتاليا ضمن معرض العمارة الدولي الرابع عشر لبينالي البندقية D / Stage D, Monditalia section, the 14th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia

August 12th
Vernissage / Introduction to the Project at 14:00 || Introduction by Khaled Malas || Film Screening 15:00 – ‘A Flood in Baath Country’ by Omar Amiralay (48’, 2003)

August 13th
Panel on Syria at 15:30 || Josh Lyons – Satellite Imagery Analyst / Human Rights Watch / Geneva || Fawaz Traboulsi – Writer & Historian / American University of Beirut / Beirut || Zaidoun Al-Zoabi – Co-Founder of Higher Commission for Civil Defence / Deraa & Berlin

August 14th
Film Screening at 17:00 || ‘The Night’ by Mohammad Malas (116’, 1992)

August 15th
Film Screenings at 17:00 || ‘Step by Step’ by Ossama Mohammed (25’, 1978) || ‘The Immortal Sergeant’ by Ziyad Kalthom (75’, 2013) followed by a conversation with filmmaker Ziyad Kalthom (All films will be subtitled in English)

في‭ ‬مثل‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬اللحظات‭ ‬التاريخية،‭ ‬بالضبط‭ ‬،‭ ‬يمسي‭ ‬حيوياً‭ ‬فهم‭ ‬الصراعات‭ ‬الماضية‭ ‬على‭ ‬الفضاء‭ ‬و‭ ‬معانيها‭ . ‬هذه‭ ‬الحرب‭ ‬المستمرة‭ ‬تطرح‭ ‬أسئلة‭ ‬المسؤولية‭ ‬بإلحاح،‭ ‬فيجد‭ ‬المعماريون‭ ‬أنفسهم،‭ ‬كغيرهم‭ ‬وسط‭ ‬مصائب‭ ‬كهذه،‭ ‬في‭ ‬حاجة‭ ‬ماسة‭ ‬ليكونوا‭ ‬منتجين‭ ‬وليتصرفوا‭ ‬بشكل‭ ‬ذي‭ ‬معنى‭. ‬البقاع‭ ‬الخربة‭ ‬تدعو‭ ‬المعمار‭/‬المواطن‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬عرض‭ ‬ما‭ ‬حلّ‭ ‬بها‭. ‬في‭ ‬مناطق‭ ‬عديدة‭ ‬من‭ ‬سوريا،‭ ‬ثمة‭ ‬شحّ‭ ‬في‭ ‬المياه‭. ‬ويمكن‭ ‬للبئر‭ ‬أن‭ ‬تقدم‭ ‬دعماً‭ ‬لمناطق‭ ‬تعاني‭ ‬النتائج‭ ‬المضنية‭ ‬للحرب،‭ ‬ليس‭ ‬كأحد‭ ‬مقومات‭ ‬البقاء‭ ‬فحسب،‭ ‬بل‭ ‬أيضاً‭ ‬كمكان‭ ‬للتبادل‭ ‬الاجتماعي‭ ‬والإنتاج‭ ‬المجتمعي‭. ‬ الدور‭ ‬الأساس‭ ‬للمعمار‭ ‬في‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬المشروع،‭ ‬يكمن‭ ‬في‭ ‬إيجاد‭ ‬تمويل‭ ‬لحفر‭ ‬البئر‭ ‬و‭ ‬تقديم‭ ‬النصح‭ ‬البسيط،‭ ‬بالاضافة‭ ‬الى‭ ‬انتاج‭ ‬مواد‭ ‬تمثيلية‭ ‬للبئر‭ ‬ستعرض‭ ‬في‭ ‬البندقية‭.‬
خلال‭ ‬البحث‭ ‬عن‭ ‬مواقع‭ ‬ومتعاونين‭ ‬محتملين‭ ‬للجناح‭ ‬النازح،‭ ‬تعرفت‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬االهيئة‭ ‬العامة‭ ‬للدفاع‭ ‬المدنيب،‭ ‬وهي‭ ‬حركة‭ ‬شعبية‭ ‬مؤلفة‭ ‬من‭ ‬ناشطين‭ ‬شباب‭ ‬ومواطنين‭ ‬معنيين،‭ ‬تمكنوا،‭ ‬في‭ ‬وقت‭ ‬قصير‭ ‬جداً،‭ ‬من‭ ‬تنظيم‭ ‬مبادرات‭ ‬متعددة‭ ‬لتحسين‭ ‬ظروف‭ ‬العيش‭ ‬في‭ ‬سوريا‭. ‬وهُم‭ ‬التجسيد‭ ‬الفعلي‭ ‬لمبادرة‭ ‬نابعة‭ ‬من‭ ‬قلب‭ ‬المجتمع،‭ ‬كبديل‭ ‬لنظام‭ ‬مضطلع‭ ‬بالقصف‭ ‬الجوي‭.‬
في‭ ‬قرية‭ ‬الطيبة،‭ ‬بعد‭ ‬تدمير‭ ‬المصدر‭ ‬الأساسي‭ ‬للمياه‭ ‬وبنيته‭ ‬التحتية‭ ‬في‭ ‬آذار‭ ‬2013،‭ ‬لم‭ ‬يتأخر‭ ‬الشباب‭ ‬في‭ ‬إيجاد‭ ‬مصدر‭ ‬آخر‭ ‬للمياه‭ . ‬تلك‭ ‬الجهودٍ‭ ‬الجبارة‭ ‬تبدو‭ ‬مُلهمة‭ ‬على‭ ‬أكثر‭ ‬من‭ ‬مستوى،‭ ‬وتشق‭ ‬طريقاً‭ ‬واضحة‭ ‬لمنظمات‭ ‬محلية‭ ‬محتملة‭ ‬في‭ ‬سوريا‭ ‬ما‭ ‬بعد‭ ‬الثورة‭. ‬وإذ‭ ‬أشاركهم‭ ‬رؤيتهم،‭ ‬وبما‭ ‬أن‭ ‬مشروعهم‭ ‬توقف‭ ‬مؤقتاً،‭ ‬اقترحتُ‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬التعاون‭ ‬بيننا،‭ ‬على‭ ‬أمل‭ ‬لإنجاز‭ ‬البئر‭ ‬وربطها‭ ‬بشبكة‭ ‬القرية‭ ‬التي‭ ‬ما‭ ‬تزال‭ ‬موجودة،‭ ‬علّنا‭ ‬ننقذ‭ ‬أرواحاًً‭ ‬وننشر‭ ‬الوعي،‭ ‬من‭ ‬الطيبة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬البندقية،‭ ‬عبر‭ ‬تطوير‭ ‬بدائلٍ‭ ‬للعمل‭ ‬الراديكالي‭. ‬قد‭ ‬تم‭ ‬حفر‭ ‬البئر‭ ‬في‭ ‬حزيران‭ ‬2014‭ ‬و‭ ‬بدأنا‭ ‬في‭ ‬انتاج‭ ‬بئراً‭ ‬آخر‭.‬
هذا‭ ‬الإسقاط‭ ‬للمواطن‭/‬المعمار‭ ‬على‭ ‬الأرض‭ ‬المحروقة‭ ‬هو‭ ‬المشروع‭ ‬المعماري‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬نضعه‭ ‬بين‭ ‬أيديكم،‭ ‬والمنبثق‭ ‬من‭ ‬إيمان‭ ‬عميق‭ ‬بأن‭ ‬العمارة‭ ‬يمكنها‭ ‬أداء‭ ‬دور‭ ‬حتى‭ ‬في‭ ‬أحلك‭ ‬الظروف،‭ ‬وأن‭ ‬مثل‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬الممارسة‭ ‬المعمارية‭ ‬بوسعها‭ ‬تجاوز‭ ‬التمايزات‭ ‬بين‭ ‬الأبنية‭ ‬والنُّصُب،‭ ‬وهي‭ ‬تمايزات‭ ‬غالباً‭ ‬ما‭ ‬تمر‭ ‬من‭ ‬دون‭ ‬مساءلة‭. ‬االجناح‭ ‬النازحب،‭ ‬ومواد‭ ‬تمثيله،‭ ‬ليس‭ ‬مجرّد‭ ‬تدخل‭ ‬مباشر‭ ‬و‭ ‬موضع‭ ‬تأمل‭ ‬من‭ ‬مسافة،‭ ‬بل‭ ‬هو‭ ‬مشروع‭ ‬سياسي‭ ‬كُتب‭ ‬بكامله‭ ‬على‭ ‬الأرض،‭ ‬وهي‭ ‬الضرورة‭ ‬لإنتاج‭ ‬المكان‭. ‬وهكذا،‭ ‬فإن‭ ‬المسألة‭ ‬ليست‭ ‬ببساطة‭ ‬كتابة‭ ‬بناء‭ ‬على‭ ‬الأرض،‭ ‬إنما‭ ‬هي‭ ‬محاولة‭ ‬لصياغة‭ ‬أسلوب‭ ‬جديد‭ ‬للبناء‭ ‬يتواءم‭ ‬مع‭ ‬السياق‭ ‬وظروفه‭. ‬هذا‭ ‬المكمن‭ ‬السياسي‭ ‬لهذا‭ ‬العمل‭ ‬الفني‭. ‬

يسعى‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬المشروع‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬استكشاف‭ ‬التحوّلات،‭ ‬البديعة‭ ‬والمرعبة‭ ‬في‭ ‬آن،‭ ‬لأرض‭ ‬مهددة‭ ‬بتصاعد‭ ‬الصراعات‭ ‬الوطنية،‭ ‬وهي‭ ‬أيضاً‭ ‬موقع‭ ‬الصراعات‭ ‬هذه‭. ‬ننبش‭ ‬الذكريات‭ ‬المُغفَلة‭ ‬واللحظات‭ ‬الهاطلة‭ ‬من‭ ‬السماء،‭ ‬لاقتراح‭ ‬سرديات‭ ‬بديلة‭ ‬للصدمة‭. ‬ثم‭ ‬نلتفت‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬كيفية‭ ‬إنتاج‭ ‬الدولة‭ ‬الحديثة‭ ‬وأراضيها‭ ‬من‭ ‬باطن‭ ‬الأرض‭. ‬ننطلق‭ ‬من‭ ‬الطيران‭ ‬الميكانيكي‭ ‬الثقيل،‭ ‬كنموذج‭ ‬لتجربة‭ ‬حداثوية‭ ‬في‭ ‬الفضاء‭ ‬وانتاجه،‭ ‬أيام‭ ‬السِّلم‭ ‬والحرب،‭ ‬لننقل‭ ‬العنف‭ ‬والنشوة،‭ ‬المتساميَين‭ ‬والمرتبطين‭ ‬بالسموات،‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬الأرض،‭ ‬فنضيء‭ ‬على‭ ‬أملٍ‭ ‬كليّ‭ ‬الوجود‭ ‬وسط‭ ‬حطام‭ ‬التجربة‭ ‬الحداثوية‭. ‬وبناءاً‭ ‬على‭ ‬التزامنا‭ ‬الكامل‭ ‬بالإمكانات‭ ‬العجيبة‭ ‬للعمارة،‭ ‬نرمي‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬تحوّلٍ‭ ‬يتخذ‭ ‬شكل‭ ‬تدخّلٍ‭ ‬صانعٍ‭ ‬لفضاء‭ ‬جديد،‭ ‬جذري‭: ‬بئر‭ ‬في‭ ‬سوريا‭. ‬فبالتعاون‭ ‬مع‭ ‬ناشطين‭ ‬محليين‭ ‬ومنظمات‭ ‬مدنية،‭ ‬حُفر‭ ‬بئراً‭ ‬في‭ ‬منطقة‭ ‬خرجت‭ ‬عن‭ ‬سيطرة‭ ‬النظام‭ ‬في‭ ‬عام‭ ‬2011،‭ ‬ومنذ‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬الحين،‭ ‬تدير‭ ‬معظم‭ ‬شؤونها‭ ‬مجالس‭ ‬وهيئات‭ ‬محلية‭. ‬البئر‭ ‬تؤمن‭ ‬مياه‭ ‬الشرب‭ ‬للسكان‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬يربو‭ ‬عددهم‭ ‬على‭ ‬خمسة‭ ‬عشر‭ ‬ألف‭ ‬نسمة‭. ‬البئر‭ ‬هذه،‭ ‬بديل‭ ‬مؤقت‭ ‬عن‭ ‬البنية‭ ‬التحتية‭ ‬الحكومية‭ ‬التي‭ ‬دمرتها‭ ‬الحرب‭.‬
في‭ ‬بينالي‭ ‬البندقية‭ ‬للعمارة‭ ‬2014،‭ ‬بإدارة‭ ‬ريم‭ ‬كولهاس،‭ ‬دُعيتُ‭ ‬لتصميم‭ ‬وتقديم‭ ‬اجناح‭ ‬سوريب‭ ‬مؤقت‭ ‬في‭ ‬Corderie dell’Arsenale‭. ‬بالتعاون‭ ‬مع‭ ‬ناشطين‭ ‬أقترحت‭ ‬مبادرة‭ ‬معمارية‭ ‬تآمرية‭ ‬بعض‭ ‬الشيئ‭ ‬،‭ ‬كردٍّ‭ ‬عملي‭ ‬على‭ ‬الوضع‭ ‬القائم‭ ‬،‭ ‬وذلك‭ ‬بتحويل‭ ‬التمويل‭ ‬والدعاية‭ ‬المرتبطتين‭ ‬بالبينالي‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬مشروع‭ ‬اجناح‭ ‬نازحب‭ ‬في‭ ‬سوريا‭ (‬أي‭ ‬البئر‭). ‬وبما‭ ‬أن‭ ‬البينالي‭ ‬يعتبر‭ ‬الحدث‭ ‬المعماري‭ ‬الأول‭ ‬حول‭ ‬العالم،‭ ‬يزوره‭ ‬باحثون‭ ‬ومحترفون‭ ‬وطلاب‭ ‬من‭ ‬مختلف‭ ‬المشارب،‭ ‬فهذه‭ ‬فرصة‭ ‬فريدة‭ ‬لنشر‭ ‬ممارسات‭ ‬جذرية‭ ‬تتعلق‭ ‬بصناعة‭ ‬الفضاء‭/‬المساحة‭. ‬كما‭ ‬سيضم‭ ‬الوجود‭ ‬في‭ ‬البندقية‭ ‬نشاطات‭ ‬عديدة‭ (‬أفلام‭ ‬و‭ ‬ورش‭ ‬عمل‭)‬،‭ ‬تهدف‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬تفحّص‭ ‬نقدي‭ ‬للظروف‭ ‬الراهنة‭ ‬في‭ ‬سوريا،‭ ‬والدور‭ ‬الكبير‭ ‬لمعاينة‭ ‬الأرض‭ ‬من‭ ‬الجو‭ ‬إضافة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬قصفها‭ ‬بالمتفجرات،‭ ‬في‭ ‬إنتاج‭ ‬الفضاء‭ ‬الحديث‭. ‬تمثل‭ ‬السماء‭ ‬محاولات‭ ‬زاخرة‭ ‬بالقوة‭/‬السلطة‭ ‬لإنتاج‭ ‬الأرض‭ (‬وما‭ ‬عليها‭) ‬من‭ ‬علٍ،‭ ‬في‭ ‬حين‭ ‬أن‭ ‬البئر‭ ‬تحاكي‭ ‬القوة‭ ‬نفسها،‭ ‬إنما‭ ‬مقلوبة‭ ‬وكفعل‭ ‬مقاومة،‭ ‬من‭ ‬أسفلٍ‭ ‬يرمق‭ ‬الأعلى‭ ‬بتحدٍّ،‭ ‬ما‭ ‬يؤهل‭ ‬المشروع‭ ‬لإنعاش‭ ‬الأمل‭ ‬من‭ ‬عمق‭ ‬الأرض‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬سطحها‭ ‬المأهول،‭ ‬في‭ ‬غفلة‭ ‬من‭ ‬الدمار‭ ‬المُسقَط‭ ‬من‭ ‬أعلى‭.‬

This project seeks to explore the extraordinary metamorphoses, simultaneously marvelous and terrifying, of a landscape into the stake and the site of emergent national struggles. It exhumes disregarded memories and moments falling from the sky to propose alternative narratives of trauma and the subsequent production of territories from within. By positioning heavy mechanical flight as an exemplary modern experience of space and space-making, during times of peace and war, it seeks to relocate the transcendental rapture and violence associated with the skies down into the earth, illuminating the omnipresence of hope amidst the debris of modern experience. Fully committed to the marvelous potential of architecture, we attempt a transmutation in the form of a single radical space- making intervention: a Well in Syria. In collaboration with local activists and civic agencies, this Well will be built in an area outside of regime control since 2011 and since partially governed by local councils and popular assemblies. The well will provide potable water for a population of over fifteen thousand individuals. This Well temporarily replaces an existing regime-controlled infrastructure destroyed by the War.
At the 2014 Venice Biennale of Architecture, directed by Rem Koolhaas, the primary author, an architect, has been invited to design and present a temporary ‘Syrian Pavilion’ in the Corderie dell’Arsenale. In collaboration with activists, I propose an architectural subversion: channeling Venice-related funds/publicity to the building of a ‘displaced pavilion’ in Syria (the Well), representations of which will be exhibited in Venice. As the Biennale is the premier architectural event of the world, visited by scholars, professionals, and students, this is a unique opportunity for direct dissemination of radical space-making practices. Furthermore, the exhibition in Venice will be the setting for multiple events (film screenings and workshops) to critically examine the contemporary condition in Syria and the omnipresent yet rarely addressed role of aerial observation and bombardment in the production of modern space. The sky represents the power-ful attempts to produce territory from above, whilst the Well is this power inverted and resisted, challengingly glaring upwards; capable of raising hopes from the very depth of the earth to the surfaces of inhabitation, oblivious to violent attempts to destroy it from above.

It is precisely at historical moments such as today that comprehensions of past struggles, over space and meaning, become most vital. The ongoing War posits urgent questions of responsibility: like others in the midst of such calamities, architects too find themselves in dire need to be productive and act meaningfully. A landscape in ruin, invites the architect/citizen to project herself upon it. In many parts of Syria, there is a shortage of access to water. As such, a Well may provide much needed support to communities that are suffering the devastating effects of neglect followed by war, providing not only subsistence but also acting as a place for social exchange and community production. Here, the architect’s primary role has been to locate the funds for a Well and offer basic technical assistance, in addition to producing representations of the Well to be shown in Venice.
Researching potential sites/collaborators, I was introduced to ‘The Public Commission for Civil Defense’. This Commission is a grassroots organization of young activists and concerned citizens who have been able, in an extraordinarily short period, to organize multiple initiatives for the improvement of lives in Syria. They are an active embodiment of a community-led alternative to the State that is bombing from above.
In the Village of Taibeh, following the March 2013 destruction of the main water source and associated infrastructure, the Commission have already taken the necessary initiative to locate an alternative source of water. Their gargantuan efforts are inspiring on multiple levels, and provide a clear route for the potential of local organization in post-Revolution Syria. Sharing a similar vision, and as their project was temporary halted, we collaborated to build a Well and connect it to the existing village network, thus saving lives and raising awareness from Taibeh to Venice through development of alternatives for radical action. This Well was completed in June 2014 and another is currently in progress.
This projection of the citizen/architect upon the scorched landscape is the explicit architectural project at hand. It stems from the belief that architecture can perform a role even in such trying circumstances and that such an architecture is capable of transcending the oft-unquestioned distinctions between building and monument. The displaced pavilion and its representations are recognized not only as an object of direct intervention to be contemplated from a distance, but rather a political project written fully upon the landscape, a necessity in order for Place to be produced. As such, it is not simply a question of writing a building upon the land, but an attempt to forge a new way of building in accordance with the circumstances of the context. That is the political potential of this oeuvre.

في‭ ‬آذار،‭ ‬كانت‭ ‬الطائرة‭ ‬العثمانية‭ ‬أحادية‭ ‬السطح،‭ ‬هي‭ ‬الأولى‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تخترق‭ ‬السماء‭ ‬السورية،‭ ‬في‭ ‬تظهير‭ ‬استعراضي‭ ‬للقوة‭ ‬الامبريالية‭ ‬الحديثة‭ ‬خلال‭ ‬شهور‭ ‬سبقت‭ ‬الحرب‭ ‬العالمية‭ ‬الأولى‭. ‬
بعد‭ ‬محطات‭ ‬توقف‭ ‬تخللت‭ ‬الرحلة،‭ ‬حطّ‭ ‬الطيّاران‭ ‬بالطائرة‭ ‬في‭ ‬دمشق،‭ ‬حيث‭ ‬حظيا‭ ‬باستقبال‭ ‬مديني‭ ‬مبهر‭. ‬وكانت‭ ‬البروباغندا‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬لتحقق‭ ‬هدفها،‭ ‬لو‭ ‬أن‭ ‬الطائرة‭ ‬لم‭ ‬تسقط‭ ‬حطاماً‭ ‬بعد‭ ‬وقت‭ ‬قصير‭ ‬على‭ ‬إقلاعها‭ ‬في‭ ‬اليوم‭ ‬التالي‭. ‬فاتشحت‭ ‬المدينة‭ ‬المحتفلة‭ ‬بالسواد‭. ‬بعد‭ ‬أسبوع،‭ ‬وصلت‭ ‬طائرة‭ ‬ثانية،‭ ‬لكنها‭ ‬لاقت‭ ‬مصيراً‭ ‬مشابهاً‭. ‬فصدر‭ ‬أمر‭ ‬بإنشاء‭ ‬قبور‭ ‬للشهيدين‭ ‬قرب‭ ‬ضريح‭ ‬صلاح‭ ‬الدين‭. ‬ثم‭ ‬ما‭ ‬لبثت‭ ‬ان‭ ‬ارتفعت‭ ‬مسلّتان‭ ‬تذكاريتان،‭ ‬واحدة‭ ‬في‭ ‬اسطنبول،‭ ‬وأخرى‭ ‬في‭ ‬موقع‭ ‬الحطام‭ ‬قرب‭ ‬بحيرة‭ ‬طبريا‭. ‬

In March, an Ottoman monoplane is the first aeroplane to penetrate Syrian skies. This plane was intended as a spectacular demonstration of modern imperial power in the months preceding the war. After multiple stopovers en-route, the aeroplane and the two aviators land in Damascus to a splendid urban reception. This propaganda effort may have met its purpose had the plane not crashed soon after takeoff the next day; and the festive city was soon enshrouded in mourning. A week later, a second aeroplane arrives, but suffers a similar fate. A Martyrs’ burial in the courtyard of Saladin’s mausoleum is ordered. Furthermore, two obelisk monuments are erected, one in Istanbul and a second at the crash site by Lake Tiberias.

إثر‭ ‬اندلاع‭ ‬الثورة‭ ‬السورية‭ ‬الكبرى،‭ ‬قامت‭ ‬قوات‭ ‬الانتداب‭ ‬الفرنسي‭ ‬بقصف‭ ‬البقاع‭ ‬السورية‭ ‬من‭ ‬الجو،‭ ‬مما‭ ‬أدى‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬موت‭ ‬المئات‭. ‬وما‭ ‬زال‭ ‬أحد‭ ‬الأحياء‭ ‬الدمشقية،‭ ‬العائد‭ ‬تاريخه‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬القرون‭ ‬الوسطى،‭ ‬يُسمّى‭ ‬االحريقةب،‭ ‬وهو‭ ‬ظاهر‭ ‬في‭ ‬مخطط‭ ‬المدينة‭ ‬بشوارعه‭ ‬المتوازية‭ ‬يتوسطها‭ ‬ساحة‭ ‬نجمية‭ ‬الشكل‭ ‬كشاهد‭ ‬باقٍ‭ ‬على‭ ‬استمرارية‭ ‬التخطيط‭ ‬الحديث‭ ‬وتكنولوجيا‭ ‬الحرب‭. ‬وانبرى‭ ‬شاعر‭ ‬في‭ ‬القاهرة،‭ ‬آنذاك،‭ ‬لتطويب‭ ‬اللحظة،‭ ‬باعتبارها‭ ‬انطلاقة‭ ‬المقاومة‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬للاستعمار،‭ ‬ما‭ ‬ألهَمَ‭ ‬مشاعر‭ ‬قومية‭ ‬ما‭ ‬زالت‭ ‬تؤكد‭ ‬صدارة‭ ‬سوريا‭ ‬في‭ ‬الخيال‭ ‬العروبي‭.‬

In response to the Great Syrian Revolt, French mandate forces heavily bombard the Syrian landscape from the air, resulting in hundreds of deaths. In Damascus, a targeted medieval neighbourhood to this day retains the name ‘Hariqah’ (the Blaze). It is conspicuous on the city plan by its gridded streets surrounding an Étoile, an omnipresent testament to the continuities between modern planning practices and technologies of warfare. In Cairo, a poet recognizes this moment as the launch of Arab resistances to colonialism, inspiring patriotisms that underscore Syria’s position within Pan-Arab imaginaries.

المقدّم‭ ‬فارس،‭ ‬من‭ ‬القوّات‭ ‬الجوّية‭ ‬السوريّة،‭ ‬يشارك‭ ‬في‭ ‬المهمة‭ ‬السوفياتية‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬محطة‭ ‬اميرب‭ ‬الفضائية‭ ‬الدولية،‭ ‬ويُجري،‭ ‬من‭ ‬مركبته،‭ ‬حواراً‭ ‬مع‭ ‬حافظ‭ ‬الأسد،‭ ‬يصف‭ ‬خلاله‭ ‬رؤيته‭ ‬للأراضي‭ ‬السورية‭. ‬حظيت‭ ‬اللحظة‭ ‬باحتفاء‭ ‬عارم،‭ ‬باعتبارها‭ ‬نصراً‭ ‬خارقاً،‭ ‬تحقق‭ ‬بين‭ ‬النجوم‭. ‬ولدى‭ ‬هبوطه،‭ ‬قُلّد‭ ‬المقدّم‭ ‬ميداليات،‭ ‬واحتفلت‭ ‬الدولة‭ ‬بإصدار‭ ‬طوابع‭ ‬خاصة‭ ‬وتذكارات‭ ‬رسمية‭ ‬مماثلة،‭ ‬تمهر،‭ ‬رمزياً،‭ ‬التحالف‭ ‬التاريخي‭ ‬بين‭ ‬شعوب‭ ‬الاتحاد‭ ‬السوفياتي‭ ‬والجمهورية‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬السورية‭. ‬أما‭ ‬المقدّم‭ ‬،‭ ‬فعاد‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬مدينته‭ ‬حلب‭ ‬وإلى‭ ‬مهنته‭ ‬في‭ ‬سلاح‭ ‬الجو،‭ ‬وسرعان‭ ‬ما‭ ‬نسيه‭ ‬الناس،‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬أن‭ ‬أعلن‭ ‬انشقاقه‭ ‬عن‭ ‬الجيش‭ ‬السوري‭ ‬في‭ ‬آب‭ ‬2012،‭ ‬بعدما‭ ‬قصف‭ ‬النظام،‭ ‬حلب،‭ ‬بالطيران‭.‬

Lieutenant colonel Fares, from the Syrian Air Force, participates in a Soviet Interkosmos mission to the MIR space station. In orbit, he conducts a live televised conversation with Hafez al-Assad in which he describes the landscapes of Syria. The moment is celebrated as one of extraordinary triumph in the stars. Upon descent, the Colonel is decorated with medals and the event is commemorated on stamps and similar memorabilia, symbolically sealing the historic alliance between the peoples of the USSR and the S.A.R. As for Lieutenant colonel Fares, he returns to his city of Aleppo, continues his military career, and is soon publically forgotten until he announces his defection in August 2012 following the first documented regime bombing by fixed wing aircraft of its own populace.

خلال‭ ‬الحرب‭ ‬الراهنة،‭ ‬اخترعت‭ ‬القوات‭ ‬الجوية‭ ‬السورية،‭ ‬القنابل‭ – ‬البراميل،‭ ‬كمتساقطات‭ ‬بدائية‭ ‬متفجرة‭. ‬هي‭ ‬عبارة‭ ‬عن‭ ‬حاويات‭ ‬نفطية‭ ‬معززة‭ ‬بالمتفجرات،‭ ‬إضافة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬نسرات‭ ‬معدنية‭ ‬ومواد‭ ‬حارقة،‭ ‬تُرمى‭ ‬من‭ ‬الطائرات‭ ‬المروحية،‭ ‬وتخلّف‭ ‬انفجارات‭ ‬مدمرة‭. ‬ومن‭ ‬بين‭ ‬الكمّ‭ ‬الهائل‭ ‬من‭ ‬فيديوهات‭ ‬ايوتيوبب‭ ‬التي‭ ‬توثق‭ ‬لاستخدام‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬السلاح،‭ ‬شريط‭ ‬فيديو‭ ‬بصورة‭ ‬متكسرة،‭ ‬من‭ ‬سرمين‭ ‬في‭ ‬كانون‭ ‬الثاني‭. ‬يظهر‭ ‬فيه‭ ‬رجل‭ ‬مسنّ‭ ‬ينتحب،‭ ‬إثر‭ ‬تدمير‭ ‬المرحاض‭ ‬الخارجي‭ ‬لمنزله‭ ‬بأحد‭ ‬البراميل‭ ‬المتساقطة‭ ‬من‭ ‬السماء‭. ‬يتلو‭ ‬الرجل‭ ‬قصيدة‭ ‬بُرازية‭ ‬من‭ ‬وحي‭ ‬المناسبة،‭ ‬يخلط‭ ‬فيه‭ ‬بُرازه‭ ‬بأعدائه،‭ ‬مرحاضَه‭ ‬بنُصُبهم‭. ‬فنشهد،‭ ‬عبر‭ ‬الانترنت،‭ ‬رفض‭ ‬الرجل‭ ‬الانصياع‭ ‬لقانون‭ ‬قاتل‭ ‬يُمعن‭ ‬في‭ ‬التسلط‭ ‬حتى‭ ‬على‭ ‬فضلاته،‭ ‬كما‭ ‬تسلّط،‭ ‬قبل‭ ‬الانتفاضة‭ ‬الشعبية،‭ ‬على‭ ‬كلماته‭ ‬وأفعاله‭.‬

A barrel bomb is a primitive improvised explosive device developed by the Syrian Air Force during this war. They are manufactured from oil drums filled with explosives, metal shrapnel and incendiary matter then manually dropped from helicopters. The resulting detonation is devastating. Amongst the excess of YouTube videos documenting the use of this weapon is pixelated video footage from January in Sarmin whereas an older man stands lamenting the destruction of his outdoor latrine by barrel bomb. He recites a scatological poem commemorating the moment: conflating his shit with his enemies, his latrine with their monuments. Online, we bear witness to his refusal to submit to a deadly law that insists upon governing his waste as it did his words and actions before the popular uprising.

بئر يَلِجُ الأرضَ هو علامة انتمائمنا الدائم.
طائرة تلوح عميقاً في الأفق، تغرق أبداً، بعيداً عنّا، كحلمٍٍ نديّ.
بئر في كتاب، كمرئى طبيعة من طائرة أو حرب على التلفاز، لا يبدو واقعيّاً إطلاقاً.
لا يمكنه أن يبدو سوى تجريداً مغرّبَاَ، حتّى ولو حَدّد مدى احتمالنا.
هناك، في موقع غير مُعلَن عنه في سوريا، بئر قد حُفِر.
هناك، نصال المحاريث حُوِّلت إلى سيوف، فَمَن يسكنون هذه الأرض سينظرون أبداً إلى السماء بتحدٍّ، أقدامهم مغروسة في الأرض تحتهم بحزمٍ.
هؤلاء الرجال والنساء، دون أساميهم، موجودون في كلّ مرّة نقرأ فيها هذا الكتاب.

A well thrust into the ground is the mark of our permanent belonging.
An aeroplane in the sky appears deep in the landscape, always sinking further away from us like a dream in the morning.
A well behind a page, much like a landscape from the air or a war on television, does not seem real at all. It cannot but appear abstract and alien, even as it locates the extent of our tolerance.
In an undisclosed location in Syria, a well has been dug. There, the ploughshares have been beaten into swords as those who will always inhabit this land stare at the sky in defiance, their feet firmly planted into the ground beneath them. These unnamed men and women are present on every occasion we read this book.

najExcavating the Sky