Photographing individuals from his social circle, including those who were actively part of the revolutionary movement, Al Azmeh asked his subjects to re-enact and perform the stories that they had witnessed or heard about from what was happening in the streets.
As the protests and violence increased, Al Azmeh along with many other activists and critics of the current regime had to leave their country for their own safety. Isolated and left with only stories that he heard about the events unfolding within Syria, Al Azmeh eventually became the protagonist of his own work, re-enacting and photographing himself as he transformed from social observer to social activist.
Images of the conflict in Syria have been exploited by the media to such an extent, that it may be argued that the image of violence itself has come to define the whole area. Using a camera, the object which played perhaps the most important role in recording and transmitting all the events that have unraveled over the last 18 months, Al Azmeh was very conscious of how journalistic photography objectifies its victims. By highlighting only the outline of the individual’s body as it was in movement, his photographs eliminate the personalization that would occur by depicting an individual’s characteristics. His work is not about the individual, or Syria alone for that matter, it is about the universal collective who struggle against the face of their very own right to freedom.
Born in Damascus in 1973, Jaber Al Azmeh is photographer based in Doha, Qatar. He received his BFA in Visual Communications at Damascus University. In addition to being a professional photographer since 1998, he was also a resident professor at the International University of Science & Technology in Damascus since 2006.