Everywhere At Home, Yet Nowhere Feeling Home

A spirit of Discovery Against Rootlessness

Syrian photographer Baraa Rajab Basha exhibits his series of portraits at the TUFA in Trier, Germany, from January 11 to Februar 03, 2019.

“Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. When people can’t do something themselves, they’re gonna tell you that you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.” Homeless man Chris Gardner’s inspirational quote from the famous movie “The Pursuit of Happiness” is written under one of his photographs. Next to another, the civil rights activist Malcolm X is quoted as saying “I am for truth”.

Baraa Rajab Basha is not homeless, but has been uprooted from his homeland Syria by a horrifying and devastating war. “Everywhere At Home, yet Nowhere Feeling Home” is the title of his photographic series, which is currently being shown in the TUFA in Trier. A photographic road movie by bike from someone who set forth to explore the world in search of happiness and closeness to other people. “I’m interested in dialogue and in meeting with other people,” says the Syrian artist, who was born in Aleppo in 1992 and is currently studying Intermedia Design at the University of Applied Sciences in Trier. He came to Germany in 2014 with a student visa procured by the parents of a German student from Bremen who completed an exchange semester in Beirut.

Meanwhile, Baraa Rajab Basha has settled in this country. He feels fine in Germany, says the dark-haired young man, who makes an extremely energetic impression. However, the integration was difficult. “It’s still hard,” he adds after a moment of reflection. If there’s something he still lacks? “Yes, human warmth,” the answer comes without hesitation. That, too, was probably a reason to set off into the world. But above all, it was probably this kind of immense restlessness that uprooted people feel that drove the Syrian refugee to sit on the saddle of his bike and drive from Germany to Denmark, and to meet for the very first time, amongst other things, with his friend’s family in Bremen.

Someone who no longer has a homeland, yet still has the desire to see the world, cannot be stopped to get started,” explains the student. Thousands of photographs were shot during his tour to the North, of which a selection is shown in the TUFA in Trier, including landscapes with windmills, cityscapes like those of Bremen or the Hamburger Speicherstadt, as well as numerous portraits. “My photographs are meant to tell what I’ve experienced,” says Basha. The young artist, whose great role model is the Syrian director Mustapha Akkad, the producer of the well-known “Halloween” series, has undoubtedly the skilled eyes of a photographer. His digital photographs both black-and-white and color testify to his outstanding feel for moods and nuances, and sensitiveness for a particular atmosphere of a place. The picture of a bird on a buoy in the sea is of subtle poetry.

Outstanding, however, are Basha’s black and white portraits. They represent the absolute highlight of this photographic exhibit and show the photographer as an accurate, sensitive observer. It is in those photographs that Basha’s interest in people and the encounter with them become clear: “I’m interested in what stories these faces tell, in lives lived over time.” By the way, it is not supposed to stay with this one first exhibition, others will follow.

The TUFA exhibit marks the beginning of Basha’s “Portraits for Germany” project, planned for next year’s in the TUFA’s premises. For this new exhibit one will have to endeavor also for a coherent hanging scheme. Basha’s photographic journey is an interesting project that does not just tell great deal about its creator. And what’s more, it enables exciting interhuman encounters, especially within the portraits.

Anyone who gets involved with them enters as a viewer into a lively dialogue with the depicted people. And it is exactly on this exchange between the worlds that the Syrian wanderer relies on: “Because we are all humans after all.”

The vernissage takes place on January 11 and the exhibition until February 3, 2019 in the showroom on the 1st floor of the TUFA, Tuchfabrik Trier e.V., Wechselstr. 4, 54290 Trier, Germany.

Editing and English translation: Danii Kessjan