Double Sheet, 2021, Video, fabric, sound, 5’51”
In this video, Majd Abdel Hamid is unraveling a bedsheet while listening in the background, to the soundtrack of an interview of Riad al-Turk, extract from a film by Mohamad Ali Al Atassi, Ibn El-Am (2001, Documentary). Majd Abdel Hamid’s work is haunted by the image of the Syrian opposition leader Riad al-Turk who, throughout his 17 years in solitary confinement as a prisoner, executed and destroyed geometric designs on the floor of his cell using lentils picked from his soup – a creative act that reappropriated sense of inner freedom, if only for its maker, and which left no trace.
Duration of arrest: 17 years of Solitary confinement in the cellar of the Military Investigation Branch in Damascus, Syria. His Cell: two squared meters with no access to sunlight or fresh air. Called “Solitary 51” A film by: Mohamad Ali Al Atassi Ibn El-Am 2001 Documentary
Name Riad El Turk
Date of Birth: 1930, Homs- Syria
Translation of interview: “Besides that, what do you do? You lie down and you daydream Ever dream means contact with the outside world I don’t know if you understand me well Every daydream triggers obsession of going out And the necessity of going out Well, what do you do in both cases? They destroy you, my friend. I solved that in another way I didn’t allow myself to daydream Of course, as much as possible I began to search here and there What shall I do? I had a stroke of luck. I was looking in the garbage for something useful and the lentil soup that I had regularly contained little gravels I remembered that when I was in school I used to like the drawing I was lucky to find a double-sized bedsheet Do you know what a double sheet means? Where did you find it? I found it in another Solitary confinement cell. this bedsheet was bigger than my cell. In my cell I had nothing I spread it and drew on it a natural scenery A drawing With these gravels from the soup How did you find the black gravels? I found them while I was eating my soup I put them in my mouth The black grains were hard Like the old man who has no teeth, you use your tongue to remove the gravels and eat only the soft lentils. How many did you have? I had thousands of them, filled them in plastic bags. How come? Did they feed you lentil soup every day? Usually, in the evening We had lentil soup at least 4 days a week This big picture I was drawing Used to take me more than a day One day wasn’t enough At noon, I used to hope they don’t bring lunch Because that meant I had to ruin everything To have a place to eat You had to stand up quickly and rush to the door And I had no glue to stick them It’s hard enough to keep gravel in one place I had to ruin everything and then, build everything again Like this guy with the rock Sisyphus, isn’t it? He carries the rock to the top of the mountain it falls He carries it back again And I hold the grain and stick it something happens and ruins the picture, And I draw it again then destroy it. This is how I worked.