(Al-Fanar Media) Syrian Fountain Art Speaks of Home to People Far From Home

(Al-Fanar Media) Syrian Fountain Art Speaks of Home to People Far From Home

The bah-rah, a fountain-like water feature, once played an iconic and pivotal role in Syrian homes and courtyards. The focal point for social interactions within the household, it remains a symbol deep in the hearts of Syria’s diaspora.

The fountain’s transition into the modern world and a dispersed people is the focus of what is now becoming a permanent installation by the Syrian architect Talin Hazbar at Abu Dhabi’s Warehouse421, a center for modern art.

Hazbar is exploring history, identity and culture, not through books and literature, but using a historical symbol in a modern setting.

Her project looks at the concept of the bah-rah from Ottoman times, when it was a source of drinking water for those who could afford it, as well as a place for ritual ablutions, into its modern manifestations. It has also served as a sound barrier for confidential conversations, a cooling device, and, more recently, a decorative feature, Hazbar says.

The emotions and memories these symbolic pieces evoke among Syrians in diaspora have been poured into Hazbar’s research, a social project that evolved into what is now a permanent reminder of the importance of this cultural icon.

“Talking about the fountain, I connected with Syrians across the world for my research …  to find out why it resonates for so many and what it means to them,” she explained.  She was curious to understand this deep relationship to an object so ingrained in the hearts of many who never even experienced it in its classical Ottoman form. (See a related article, “Artist Collects Stories From the Hearts of Syrians.”)



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