Woman We Have Not Lost Yet tells the stories of those who lived through the crisis in Syria. On 26 April 2015, the radical Islamic opposition announced the ‘Great Attack’ on Aleppo. Young people from various ethnicities and religions, former participants of Art Camping, gathered in Le Pont gallery.

In this artistic and intellectual safe haven, created by photographer and organiser Issa Touma, they could find comfort in each other. The fighting lasted an entire week. Trapped and frightened, a group of women shared their hopes and fears. Dressed in their customary clothing – chosen by themselves and not by the authorities – they decided to hold a photography session, almost like a final message.

The portraits in Woman We Have Not Lost Yet are a moving and urgent cry for help. Extremism in Syria has many faces, which all have dark theories. While the women in these photographs are still alive, many others were killed before they had the opportunity to realise their dreams.

Authors


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Issa Touma is a photographer and curator based in Aleppo (Syria). His photographic work can be found in international collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

Finding himself isolated from the international art community in his own country, Touma established the Black and White Gallery, the first photography gallery in the Middle East, in 1992. After its closure in 1996, Touma founded Le Pont, an independent art organisation and gallery that promotes freedom of expression and stimulates the local art scene through international events.

In 1997, he started the International Photography Festival Aleppo, which despite the horrors and uncertainties of the conflict, continues to take place every year. In 2012, shortly after the war broke out, he initiated Art Camping. This event in the form of workshops counters violence with artistic interventions. Its aim is to bring young people from various religious and ethnic backgrounds together, encouraging them to express themselves through culture.

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My name is Zanous. I’m not afraid to die, but I am afraid of a mental or physical handicap. I believe that God is the almighty saviour, and I intend to stay here in Aleppo.
age: 26
occupation: jewellery maker nationality: Kurdish Syrian religion: Yazidi
My name is Zanous. I’m not afraid to die, but I am afraid of a mental or physical handicap. I believe that God is the almighty saviour, and I intend to stay here in Aleppo. age: 26 occupation: jewellery maker nationality: Kurdish Syrian religion: Yazidi
© Issa Touma
My name is Hiba Allah.
My engagement party is in two months. I'm looking for a job and I don’t know what to do. I live here, where there's war, loss, destruction, insecurity and a permanent feeling of deprivation. I'm trying to hang on to hope but maybe it doesn't exist.
Someone advised me to hold my engagement party by candlelight since there's no electricity in our city. We are falling as a result of our own faults – we had it all wrong – and things will remain as bad as they are now.

age: 24 
occupation: Economist (unemployed)
nationality: Arab Syrian
religion: Sunni Muslim
My name is Hiba Allah. My engagement party is in two months. I'm looking for a job and I don’t know what to do. I live here, where there's war, loss, destruction, insecurity and a permanent feeling of deprivation. I'm trying to hang on to hope but maybe it doesn't exist. Someone advised me to hold my engagement party by candlelight since there's no electricity in our city. We are falling as a result of our own faults – we had it all wrong – and things will remain as bad as they are now. age: 24 occupation: Economist (unemployed) nationality: Arab Syrian religion: Sunni Muslim
© Issa Touma
My name is Laure. I grew up in a very mixed society. Most
of my friends were Muslims. They were very open and I never felt that my relationships with them put me in any danger. Today,
that changed. All my Sunni friends and
even Christians  ed Aleppo. They were so frightened of the future. I keep thinking:
if the Sunnis are scared of the fanatics entering the city, what am I, a Christian
and half Armenian, doing here? I’m certain I’ll end up a veiled woman in the hands
of extremists.

age: 29
occupation: photographer nationality: Armenian Syrian religion: Armenian Orthodox
My name is Laure. I grew up in a very mixed society. Most of my friends were Muslims. They were very open and I never felt that my relationships with them put me in any danger. Today, that changed. All my Sunni friends and even Christians ed Aleppo. They were so frightened of the future. I keep thinking: if the Sunnis are scared of the fanatics entering the city, what am I, a Christian and half Armenian, doing here? I’m certain I’ll end up a veiled woman in the hands of extremists. age: 29 occupation: photographer nationality: Armenian Syrian religion: Armenian Orthodox
© Issa Touma
My name is Zindan. For me and my  ancé, men and women are equal. I will leave Aleppo if we are forced to change our lifestyle.

age: 22
occupation: student nationality: Kurdish Syrian religion: Muslim
My name is Zindan. For me and my ancé, men and women are equal. I will leave Aleppo if we are forced to change our lifestyle. age: 22 occupation: student nationality: Kurdish Syrian religion: Muslim
© Issa Touma
My name is Dima. Since the war started, I’ve said goodbye to so many people. I stopped meeting people so I wouldn’t have to say goodbye any more. I’ve lost any sense of being alive. I’m staying in Aleppo to  nish my studies, and every night I count the bombs exploding around my house until I fall asleep.

age: 21
occupation: student nationality: Arab Syrian religion: Sunni Muslim
My name is Dima. Since the war started, I’ve said goodbye to so many people. I stopped meeting people so I wouldn’t have to say goodbye any more. I’ve lost any sense of being alive. I’m staying in Aleppo to nish my studies, and every night I count the bombs exploding around my house until I fall asleep. age: 21 occupation: student nationality: Arab Syrian religion: Sunni Muslim
© Issa Touma
My name is Enfwan. When the war started, I convinced all of
my relatives and friends to leave town so that I wouldn’t have to worry about their safety. As for me, I didn’t have the courage to
leave. I love my life here. But day by day,
with the ongoing destruction, Aleppo is changing. And more and more people have gone. It’s no longer the city I know. I’ve now decided to leave as well.

age:24
occupation: graphic designer nationality: Arab Syrian religion: Sunni Muslim
My name is Enfwan. When the war started, I convinced all of my relatives and friends to leave town so that I wouldn’t have to worry about their safety. As for me, I didn’t have the courage to leave. I love my life here. But day by day, with the ongoing destruction, Aleppo is changing. And more and more people have gone. It’s no longer the city I know. I’ve now decided to leave as well. age:24 occupation: graphic designer nationality: Arab Syrian religion: Sunni Muslim
© Issa Touma
My name is Diana. In March 2014, I went to Istanbul to look for work. It had become too hard to live
in my neighbourhood in Aleppo. But
I couldn’t  nd a job and had to leave again. In a way, I wasn’t sorry. Syrians – especially women – are exploited in Turkey. Now I’m back in Aleppo.

age: 25
occupation: English literature student nationality: Kurdish Syrian
religion: Muslim
My name is Diana. In March 2014, I went to Istanbul to look for work. It had become too hard to live in my neighbourhood in Aleppo. But I couldn’t nd a job and had to leave again. In a way, I wasn’t sorry. Syrians – especially women – are exploited in Turkey. Now I’m back in Aleppo. age: 25 occupation: English literature student nationality: Kurdish Syrian religion: Muslim
© Issa Touma
My name is Shahi. I’m from a village near Kobani. At the time we were still occupied by ISIS, I had to take exams in Aleppo to enrol in the Faculty
of Fine Arts. We walked for three days, crossing the Turkish border and back, afraid all the time of mines. But I passed the exam; I’m so happy!

age: 20
occupation: art student nationality: Kurdish Syrian religion: Muslim
My name is Shahi. I’m from a village near Kobani. At the time we were still occupied by ISIS, I had to take exams in Aleppo to enrol in the Faculty of Fine Arts. We walked for three days, crossing the Turkish border and back, afraid all the time of mines. But I passed the exam; I’m so happy! age: 20 occupation: art student nationality: Kurdish Syrian religion: Muslim
© Issa Touma
My name is Nour. I like my work and my workplace is safer than my home in the Christian quarter. But my parents want me to give up my job. We argue about it a lot. Staying together gives them a feeling of safety.

age: 21
occupation: lawyer nationality: Syrian religion: Christian
My name is Nour. I like my work and my workplace is safer than my home in the Christian quarter. But my parents want me to give up my job. We argue about it a lot. Staying together gives them a feeling of safety. age: 21 occupation: lawyer nationality: Syrian religion: Christian
© Issa Touma
My name is Hiba. After 13 years of economic autonomy,
I’m terri ed every day that will be
taken away from me if Aleppo falls into
the hands of extremists. I would be trapped in my apartment, unable to go out unless accompanied by a male family member.
I have panic attacks when I think of losing my life, my job, just because I’m a woman.

age: 31
occupation: UN volunteer nationality: Arab Syrian religion: Sunni Muslim
My name is Hiba. After 13 years of economic autonomy, I’m terri ed every day that will be taken away from me if Aleppo falls into the hands of extremists. I would be trapped in my apartment, unable to go out unless accompanied by a male family member. I have panic attacks when I think of losing my life, my job, just because I’m a woman. age: 31 occupation: UN volunteer nationality: Arab Syrian religion: Sunni Muslim
© Issa Touma
My name is Sally. The last four years have been full of frustrations. But the greatest shock
was losing my scholarship to go to Europe and earn my PhD in Archaeology. The programme was stopped after
the travel ban was imposed on Syrian citizens. Now, ironically, all I want is to stay here. I worry about my family, though, my friends, my country. I even worry about losing my head, since ISIS issued a fatwa declaring that anyone studying archaeology should be decapitated.

age: 29
occupation: archaeologist nationality: Armenian Syrian religion: Armenian Orthodox
My name is Sally. The last four years have been full of frustrations. But the greatest shock was losing my scholarship to go to Europe and earn my PhD in Archaeology. The programme was stopped after the travel ban was imposed on Syrian citizens. Now, ironically, all I want is to stay here. I worry about my family, though, my friends, my country. I even worry about losing my head, since ISIS issued a fatwa declaring that anyone studying archaeology should be decapitated. age: 29 occupation: archaeologist nationality: Armenian Syrian religion: Armenian Orthodox
© Issa Touma
My name is Maya. After I graduated from the University of Aleppo, I wanted to share my happiness with my family in Idlib. But my happiness didn’t last. While
I was there, Islamic extremists attacked the city and surrounding area. My family and I were able to  ee to Latakia, where we are now. I have no idea what happened to my parents’ home.

age: 29
occupation: artist nationality: Arab Syrian religion: Sunni Muslim
My name is Maya. After I graduated from the University of Aleppo, I wanted to share my happiness with my family in Idlib. But my happiness didn’t last. While I was there, Islamic extremists attacked the city and surrounding area. My family and I were able to ee to Latakia, where we are now. I have no idea what happened to my parents’ home. age: 29 occupation: artist nationality: Arab Syrian religion: Sunni Muslim
© Issa Touma
My name is Angela. I studied pharmacy in Russia; it has been awful not being able to dispense medicine to people who need it so badly. In 2012-2013, medicine was particularly hard to  nd.
I couldn’t stay in Aleppo. After three years of war, I moved back to my village, away from the stench of the dying city.

age: 35
occupation: pharmacist nationality: Kurdish Syrian religion: Muslim
My name is Angela. I studied pharmacy in Russia; it has been awful not being able to dispense medicine to people who need it so badly. In 2012-2013, medicine was particularly hard to nd. I couldn’t stay in Aleppo. After three years of war, I moved back to my village, away from the stench of the dying city. age: 35 occupation: pharmacist nationality: Kurdish Syrian religion: Muslim
© Issa Touma
My name is Cyrine. My friends and I go out as much as possible. We will soon lose all of this. See you later – my friends are waiting for me at the restaurant.

age: 18
occupation: student nationality: Arab Syrian religion: Sunni Muslim
My name is Cyrine. My friends and I go out as much as possible. We will soon lose all of this. See you later – my friends are waiting for me at the restaurant. age: 18 occupation: student nationality: Arab Syrian religion: Sunni Muslim
© Issa Touma
My name is Lama. I wasn’t afraid of death because I had no experience of it. Four years of war has changed that. I now live in Aleppo, the most dangerous place in the world. But I’m still determined to dream, live and enjoy every atom of fresh air and white cloud. If I survive this war, I want to visit China’s Great Wall, to practise Indian meditation and to keep on drawing.

age: 25
occupation: university art teacher nationality: Arab Syrian
religion: Sunni Muslim
My name is Lama. I wasn’t afraid of death because I had no experience of it. Four years of war has changed that. I now live in Aleppo, the most dangerous place in the world. But I’m still determined to dream, live and enjoy every atom of fresh air and white cloud. If I survive this war, I want to visit China’s Great Wall, to practise Indian meditation and to keep on drawing. age: 25 occupation: university art teacher nationality: Arab Syrian religion: Sunni Muslim
© Issa Touma
Women We Have Not Lost Yet at Castrum Peregrini, 2015
Women We Have Not Lost Yet at Castrum Peregrini, 2015
© Heleen Peeters
Opening Women We Have Not Lost Yet at Castrum Peregrini, 2015
Opening Women We Have Not Lost Yet at Castrum Peregrini, 2015
© Issa Touma
Opening Women We Have Not Lost Yet at Castrum Peregrini, Amsterdam 2015
Opening Women We Have Not Lost Yet at Castrum Peregrini, Amsterdam 2015
© Issa Touma
Sarah Akili Zegers and Gharib performing the excerpts from the 
Mini Opera - A Postcard from Aleppo 
at 
the exhibition opening
Sarah Akili Zegers and Gharib performing the excerpts from the Mini Opera - A Postcard from Aleppo at the exhibition opening
© Heleen Peeters
Mini Opera: A Postcard from Aleppo 
video projection, Castrum Peregrini, Amsterdam 2015
Mini Opera: A Postcard from Aleppo video projection, Castrum Peregrini, Amsterdam 2015
© Bas Vroege
Women We Have Not Lost Yet at Benaki Museum, Athens 2016
Women We Have Not Lost Yet at Benaki Museum, Athens 2016
Opening Women We Have Not Lost Yet at Benaki Museum, Athens 2016
Opening Women We Have Not Lost Yet at Benaki Museum, Athens 2016
Women We Have Not Lost Yet at Benaki Museum, Athens 2016
Women We Have Not Lost Yet at Benaki Museum, Athens 2016
Opening Women We Have Not Lost Yet at Benaki Museum, Athens 2016
Opening Women We Have Not Lost Yet at Benaki Museum, Athens 2016
Texture of the City, frottages by participants of Art Camping
Texture of the City, frottages by participants of Art Camping

Exhibition

Women We Have Not Lost Yet and other stories from Aleppo brings together Touma’s visual work and some of the outcomes of Art Camping, a collaborative programme in the form of workshops for young people from various religious and ethnic backgrounds in Syria. The exhibtion takes visitors through different stages of the conflict through four different components.

  • Women We Have Not Lost Yet, 15 prints with the portraits of 15 young women.
  • 9 Days – From My Window in Aleppo, the short award winning documentary by Issa Touma on the first nine days of the Syrian conflict, filmed from his apartment window
  • Texture of the City, works on paper by Art Camping participants. They traced the cultural emblems of the
    city’s historic centre. Most of the paper and charcoal reliefs produced during the project are the last records
    of the selected sites, as more than 60% of the old city has been destroyed in the conflict.
  • Mini Opera – A Postcard from Aleppo. During a one-day workshop Aleppean participants
    were asked to write about personal or memorable moments in their city on the back of
    a postcard. Their testimonies became the starting point for the mini opera, composed by Merlijn Twaalfhoven and writer Abdelkader Benali and Syrian musicians living in the Netherlands. It was premiered at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw on 27 June 2014.

Women We Have Not Lost Yet was shown for the first time at Castrum Peregrini in Amsterdam, 2015. The cultural foundation could not be a more fitting location: it was originally a hiding place for artists and writers during the occupation of the Netherlands in WW2. Alongside these portraits, the exhibition included screen several videos, like 9 Days – From My Window in Aleppo, as well as material made by Art Camping participants, including ‘frottages’ of the city’s walls, many of which have since been destroyed. From Amsterdam, the exhibition travelled to Greece. For four weeks, Touma’s portraits were shown at the Benaki Museum, Athens as part of the Athens Photo Festival. From December 2016 until March 2017, Gävle Konstcentrum shows Women We Have Not Lost Yet. Touma was invited to come to Gävle for two years to continue his artistic work.

The Women We Have Not Lost Yet exhibition is currently available. Please check with aw@paradox.nl for booking possibilities and pricing.
  • 07.12.201605.03.2017Gävle Konstcentrum, Gävle (SE)

    09.06.201631.07.2016Benaki Museum, Photofestival Athens (GR)

    12.09.201527.09.2015Castrum Peregrini, Amsterdam (NL)

  • This exhibition contains fifteen portraits on stands, two video projections and 15-25 A4 paper sheets with frottages.



Cover Women We Have Not Lost Yet, Issa Touma, 2015
Cover Women We Have Not Lost Yet, Issa Touma, 2015
Design: Kummer & Herrman
Zanous, spread from the book Women We Have Not Lost Yet, Issa Touma, 2015
Zanous, spread from the book Women We Have Not Lost Yet, Issa Touma, 2015
Design: Kummer & Herrman
Zanous, spread from the book Women We Have Not Lost Yet, Issa Touma, 2015
Zanous, spread from the book Women We Have Not Lost Yet, Issa Touma, 2015
Design: Kummer & Herrman
Hiba Allah, spread from the book Women We Have Not Lost Yet, Issa Touma, 2015
Hiba Allah, spread from the book Women We Have Not Lost Yet, Issa Touma, 2015
Design: Kummer & Herrman
Hiba Allah, spread from the book Women We Have Not Lost Yet, Issa Touma, 2015
Hiba Allah, spread from the book Women We Have Not Lost Yet, Issa Touma, 2015
Design: Kummer & Herrman
Sally, spread from the book Women We Have Not Lost Yet, Issa Touma, 2015
Sally, spread from the book Women We Have Not Lost Yet, Issa Touma, 2015
Design: Kummer & Herrman
Sally, spread from the book Women We Have Not Lost Yet, Issa Touma, 2015
Sally, spread from the book Women We Have Not Lost Yet, Issa Touma, 2015
Design: Kummer & Herrman
Back cover Women We Have Not Lost Yet, Issa Touma 2015
Back cover Women We Have Not Lost Yet, Issa Touma 2015
Design: Kummer & Herrman

Book

The book Women We Have Not Lost Yet, designed by Kummer & Herrman, includes 15 portraits and statements from the women who stayed in Le Pont gallery during the Great Attack. The publication was launched in Amsterdam during the opening of the exhibition on 12 September 2015 in Castrum Peregrini.

Buy
  • Title: Women We Have Not Lost Yet
    Author: Issa Touma
    Graphic Design: Kummer & Herrman
    Publisher: Paradox & André Frère Éditions
    Language: English & Arabic
    Size: ca. 24,5 x 33,5cm
    Number of pages: 64
    Price: €25
    ISBN: 978-90-818876-5-6
    Publisher: Paradox & André Frère Éditions

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