Jacques Derrida maintained that because of the failure of language, some of the greatest phenomena in our world are dismissed too soon. The phenomena that captured Derrida’s imagination were spectres, ghosts, and haunting. These are critical and problematic things that remain ‘difficult to name: neither soul nor body, and both one and the other'. One does not know what they are: not out of ignorance, 'but because this non-present present, no longer belongs to knowledge'. Derrida encouraged his fellow academics to move beyond popular 'mis'-conceptions about spectrality and set up dialogues and discourse with ghosts. Academics should do this, he believed, so as to determine why spectres and ghosts, return as iconography.
This project responds to Derrida’s call to help spectres and ghosts appear, and to show themselves. The work emerged from an interdiscipline of practice led research into the Spectre of Violence in Contemporary Art Practice (2019). The research became the single word question: Image? What is, image? What is, this image and what does the image represent and ask of us? In doing so it brings attention to the multiplicity of violence in Syria and its devastating effects on the Syrian people. The serendipitous wandering of the research brought together three art practitioners with differing backgrounds and methods of capturing the image of violence.
These practitioners are: a visual artist who while living and working in the UK experienced and interpreted the war in Syria remotely through a computer screen; a Syrian photographer who recorded the violence first hand in the city of Douma; and a Syrian/Palestinian musician who painted his piano white and played a concerto for peace in the streets of Yarmouk to the few people that remained, and, to the ghosts who had departed.