Shani is a 20 year old, Kurd-Syrian art student. Of Islamic faith, she was born in a village near Kobani now occupied by Isis. It took her 3 days of mine-riddled travel to get to Aleppo, where she had exams.
She managed to pass those exams and now she’s happy. Hiba is a 31 year old Syrian volunteer. Sally is a 31 year old Armenian Orthodox archaeologist; Nour is a 21 year old Syrian lawyer and a Christian. The list is long but it is nothing compared to the number of women, men and children who have lost their lives in Aleppo these past months.
Aleppo was one of the most ancient human settlements before this ruthless war hit: a metropolis of 2,7 million inhabitants where Kurds, Armenians, Arabs, Turks, and Circassians coexisted along with more than ten religions. In 2006 it was named the Cultural capital of the Islamic world. Today there is only devastation, destroyed homes, cluster bombs and far too many victims.
Issa Touma, a photographer from Aleppo, made the series Woman We Have Not Lost Yet in April, 2015, when a group of Art Camping festival goers gathered in his gallery to escape the bombings of the first ”big attack” on Aleppo.
As new refugees, a group of women climbed the photographic set in their everyday clothes to demonstrate their resistant will, to feel united and indissoluble under the enemy attack. Touma is the eye of a suffering humanity, a humanity that, however censored by a relentless war, will never relinquish its desire for freedom.
In 1997, he started the International Photography Festival Aleppo, which despite the horrors and uncertainties of the conflict, continues to take place every year. In 2012, shortly after the war broke out, he initiated Art Camping. This event in the form of workshops counters violence with artistic interventions. Its aim is to bring young people from various religious and ethnic backgrounds together, encouraging them to express themselves through culture.