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Towards Seeing Otherwise – A Conversation about Images of Violence with Foundland Collective and Syrian Digital Memory

Thursday, 27 April 2023
7 – 8.30 pm

We are very pleased to host a conversation about images of violence with Foundland Collective and Syrian Digital Memory convened by Lisa Deml from Birmingham City University.

This event will explore practices of engaging with images of violence that transcend neocolonial narratives—toward seeing otherwise.

Images of violence have become immanent to our everyday media environments. Too often, such images present oversimplified victim-perpetrator binaries and feed into neocolonial narratives about conflict. The 2011 Syrian uprising and war are a case in point—and have demonstrated the need for strategies of safeguarding and visual literacy in engaging with images of violence.

In conversation with the artist collective Foundland and the oral history project Syrian Digital Memory, this event will explore how creative practices can contribute to a more conscious and critical understanding of conflict and the impact it has on everyday lives and memories.

image credit: Foundland, Real-Time History, 2018-ongoing, courtesy of the artists.


Foundland Collective was formed by Lauren Alexander and Ghalia Elsrakbi in 2009 and is based between Amsterdam and Cairo. Their collaboration explores underrepresented political and historical narratives by working with archives via art, design, writing, educational formats, video making, and storytelling. Throughout their development, the duo has critically reflected upon what it means to produce politically engaged work from the position of non-Western artists working between Europe and the Middle East.

Lauren Alexander (1983, Cape Town) lives in Amsterdam. After completing a Masters in Design at the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam, she pursued an MFA at the Dutch Art Institute (DAI) in Arnhem (2011). Since 2022, Lauren is acting co-head of the BA Graphic Design  at the Royal Academy of Arts in the Hague (KABK), together with Chantal Hendriksen. She tutors ‘Critical Storytelling’ at the MA Non Linear Narrative and is board member and occasional tutor at the radical tuition free programme, University of the Underground.

Ghalia Elsrakbi was based in the Netherlands until 2014, before relocating to Cairo, Egypt, where she teaches at the American University. After completing a Masters in Design at the Sandberg Institute Amsterdam, she followed a research post-graduate at Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht.

The Syrian Digital Memory project was initiated by Abdul Rahman al-Jaloud in 2017 and is based at the Syrian Archive. He invited Dima Saber to join as a collaborator as early as 2018, and together they are conducting autobiographic-narrative interviews with 100 Syrian image producers from Damascus, Homs, Hama, Aleppo, Daraa, Ghouta, Raqqa and Deir Ezzour. The project aims to contextualise and re-humanise the digital testimonies of the 2011 Syrian uprising and conflict through the everyday, social, individual, and collective memories of their surviving eyewitnesses.

Dima Saber is a researcher and writer on media depictions of conflict and on the role of archival records in identity building processes. She is Programs and Impact Director at Meedan, and leads Check Global. As Lead Researcher, she contributed to the documentary film Our Memory Belongs to Us. Her involvement resulted in a number of publications, including book chapters in ‘(W)archives. Archival Imaginaries and Contemporary Wars’ (2020) which brings together perspectives from Syrian archivists and videographers on the sustainability of online archives, and in ‘Refugee Imaginaries‘ (2019) on the role of refugee archives in the making of a history of the Syrian revolution.

Lisa Deml is a Midlands4Cities funded doctoral researcher at Birmingham City University. Prior to her PhD, she worked for public institutions and non-profit organisations, including Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin, Haus der Kunst, Munich, and Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. Her current research investigates the aesthetics of citizen journalist media production and their appropriation in artistic, curatorial, and historiographical practices.