Big Blue..........................

Big Blue..........................

Image by pete beard

Daniel Nelson

‘Experience the Syrian conflict from your armchair’ sounds like a revolting mash-up of disaster tourism and conflict voyeurism.

But Now Is The Time To Say Nothing is the opposite, describing itself as a provocation against armchair passivity.

Yes, you sit comfortably and, yes, you watch and listen through headphones as you enter the life of Reem Karssli, a Damascan film-maker who fled with her younger brother and now lives and studies in Berlin.

The idea for the film installation came from the Young Vic, which asked Caroline Williams (“a white non-Arabic speaking artist who'd never been to the Middle East“) to try to create a performance with a group of young Londoners looking at the Syrian conflict.

Her research included watching a film about everyday life in the Syrian capital – by Karssli. So it began with a phone call, and four years later the two women had completed the work now showing at the Battersea Arts Centre.

“She often didn’t know what we were doing,” recalls Williams, ”and I didn’t know what we were going to make.”

“I t was an experiment,” confirms Karssli.

But a shape emerged, with the experiences conveyed through sound and film, installation and theatre, the personal and the political.

The work takes armchair adventurers through Karssli’s life in Damascus, the war, Skyping with Williams and with students in Britain, her boat journey to Europe, to life in Berlin.

It has been on tour in Britain for about six months. Karssii has travelled to UK twice to see the work. But even now, though she is a professional filmmaker, she finds it difficult to watch certain parts, mainly from times when she was at her lowest ebb – wondering, for example, whether to leave most of her family and flee with her younger brother.

* Now Is The Time To Say Nothing is at the Battersea Arts Centre on 2-19 October, 12pm, 2pm, 3:30pm, 5pm, 7pm, 8:30pm, £15/£12.50. Info: 7223 2223/



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