Gift For/Of Syria - 2017

Wheat – one of the most important staple foods in the world – has its origin in the Fertile Crescent, a region that is also known as ‘the cradle of civilization’ and includes the present-day Syrian Arab Republic. 

It is here where agriculture allowed people to settle, where the first cities were founded and organized societies gave rise to trade and crafts. It is also the region where now millions of people are fleeing, suffering from political instability, civil wars and food insecurity. The Fertile Crescent is now most commonly referred to as the ‘Middle East’ – a generally used term, yet loaded with connotation. The word ‘Syria’ reminds us of war, extremism and a country in ruins, rarely of its lively textile industry, culture and agricultural importance. 

The wheat that was once the fundament of civilization is now arriving in bags of humanitarian aid organizations, often with their logo and sometimes the text ‘Gift of’, followed by the name of the donating country. Seen in the media, these bags represent the division between two different cultures and the commonly shared perception of ‘us’ and ‘them’.

This redesign of the wheat bag – which can, once used for wheat transport, also function as fabric for clothes and covering – is inspired by Syrian textiles. It is a reminder of the origin of our daily bread, our interconnectedness and solidarity, for it is both a history and a future that we share. 

The project also includes a visual research on wheat and it’s cultural significance and a video made in collaboration with Khaled Alhouz.