Since the early 1990s, cities around the world have taken the initiative to invite a writer or journalist who is not able to operate freely in his homeland. In September 2015, the Swedish city of Gävle decided to become a member in the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN). Participating towns are linked by this independent organization that consists of the members themselves; cities and regions that offer protection to endangered artists and promotes freedom of expression, hospitality and international solidarity.
Issa Touma, from Aleppo (SYR), was invited to come to Gävle in spring 2016. Touma will have his base in the city for two years to continue his artistic work. Touma’s recent photographic work Women We Have Not Lost Yet, and the film 9 Days – From My Window in Aleppo in which the artist shows the urgent role that arts and culture play in conflict areas, will be on show at the Gävle Art Centre from 7 December 2016 till 5 March 2017.
This exhibition is a production of Paradox, Gävle Konstcentrum and Le Pont Gallery.
Issa Touma has been a central figure in Aleppo’s art scene since the mid-1990s and has continued his artistic activity despite repeated pressure. The basis for Touma practice is Le Pont Gallery in the heart of Aleppo since 1996 has served as an artistic and intellectual haven. Here he has annually organized art events such as the International Photography Festival Aleppo and the International Women’s Art Festival.