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Khan al-Tatoun (site of Gedeon's grandfather’s office), Aleppo, 2019 © Dima Dayoub

Christine Gedeon’s "Aleppo: Deconstruction | Reconstruction" is a series of fifteen works on paper, exploring places in pre-civil war Syria, which belong to the artist’s personal history. Ranging from the quotidian to the tragic, these include such sites as her grandfather’s office, located closely to the Citadel, as well as the famed Baron Hotel. Unaware of the present state of the city, Christine Gedeon recreated a version of Aleppo, accessible only by memory. Her new book is a moving evidence of art’s curative capabilities, supplemented by family photographs and an essay on Syria by Nasser Rabbat.

Christine Gedeon was three years old when she left Syria. In 1976 her newly divorced mother decided to take her children and move to the United States. "When we moved to America, my mother was a single mom with three children. I was three, my sister was thirteen, and my brother was sixteen. We had family in the US, and in Aleppo, there were really no opportunities for single mothers," recalls Gedeon. "It was much easier back then, we were given our green cards at the JFK airport in New York and just five years later we became American citizens."

Although Syria remained part of her past, it receded into the background. "I didn’t really feel American. I didn’t feel Syrian." As she grew older, though, she became curious about the land of her birth. In 2006 she went back for a visit. Wandering through the streets, she was drawn to Syria’s beauty and sense of timelessness. Gedeon spent a lot of time in Damascus. She intended to return to Aleppo at another time. But five years later there was a war and all travel plans were put off for the foreseeable future. "When the war began, I regretted not knowing the country better," remembers Gedeon, comparing this experience to a death of sorts.

So, in the following years Gedeon took an artistic journey: in a deeply personal and painful process she exposed not only a lost Syria, but a family history marked by loss, migration, and brutal political policies. "Now when I imagine Aleppo, it’s as a site of destruction and reconstruction. I embarked on this personal mapping project of the city as a way of solidifying this destroyed landscape, of dissecting my family’s personal narratives and memories, while also questioning the survival and longevity of these places."

For her series "Aleppo: Deconstruction | Reconstruction" and her new monograph, Gedeon searched for relevant sites on Google Earth and created digital drawings as a foundation, simulating regions that had been destroyed in bombing attacks and working on them with adhesive tape, pencil, and thread. Each work is juxtaposed with a text containing a fragment of a memory, most of them from her uncle and her mother. The pieces are not really abstract, nor are they actual landscapes; rather, they navigate between these poles and make plain the bitter realization that the place where Gedeon comes from no longer exists as it once did.

Christine Gedeon
Aleppo: Deconstruction | Reconstruction

ISBN 978-3-7356-0690-7
22,5 × 22,5 cm
96 Pages
51 colored illustrations
Languages: English

Text by
Christine Gedeon, Nasser Rabbat

Design by
Christine Gedeon, Berlin

August 13, 2020
Book Launch and Artist Talk with Nasser Rabbat: Museum für Islamische Kunst @ James Simon Galerie, Berlin

October 2020
Book Launch and Artist Talk with Nasser Rabbat: Jane Lombard Gallery, New York

Press Images

© Christine Gedeon, Aleppo: Deconstruction | Reconstruction, KERBER Verlag
© Christine Gedeon, Aleppo: Deconstruction | Reconstruction, KERBER Verlag
© Christine Gedeon, Aleppo: Deconstruction | Reconstruction, KERBER Verlag
© Christine Gedeon, Aleppo: Deconstruction | Reconstruction, KERBER Verlag
© Christine Gedeon, Aleppo: Deconstruction | Reconstruction, KERBER Verlag
© Christine Gedeon, Aleppo: Deconstruction | Reconstruction, KERBER Verlag
© Christine Gedeon, Aleppo: Deconstruction | Reconstruction, KERBER Verlag
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