KARLSRUHE, Germany – From October 1, 2021 to January 9, 2022, the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe will exhibit the art exhibition ‘Nobody’s Listening‘. The exhibition confronts visitors with the trauma and suffering of genocide through the art of Yazidi, Syriac, and Muslim artists. It promotes justice for the victims of the 2014 genocide on Yazidis, Syriacs, and all others who did not fit the radical Islamic ideal of terrorist organization Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. According to the United Nations and many countries, the August 2014 Islamic State campaign against Yazidis and other populations constitutes genocide, resulting in the killings of at least 1,280, kidnappings of 6,400, and the expulsion of hundred of thousands from Sinjar and the Nineveh Plains.
Syriac painter and artist Nahrin Malki is one of the artists exhibiting her work in Karlsruhe. She was born in northeastern Syria in the border city of Zalin (Qamishli), a city built by Syriac survivors of the Sayfo Genocide of 1915 perpetrated by Ottoman Turks and Kurds. She herself is a descendant of those survivors and carries with her the stories and traumas of her family and ancestors. A central theme of her work is suffering. On her website Malki says; “suffering does not discriminate and this is shown through my personal experiences of grief, images of the downtrodden and human rights violations throughout my art.”
In Syria she studied with Syriac painter Mushe Melke and Kurdish artist Mohamed Salih from whom she learned the techniques of painting. After fleeing Syria in the second half of the 1990s for Sweden, Nahrin Malki continued her art studies at the AKI art academy in Enschede, the Netherlands, graduating in 2011. She has since exhibited her work in various galleries and exhibitions over the world. And her work is now on display in Karlsruhe at the ZKM Center for Art and Media.
According to the ZKM introduction, Malki’s main goal is to connect the Syriac people to their heritage and collective experience through the central theme of suffering present in her artwork. Her painting “Nineveh” is based on a real picture showing a woman carrying a cross, depicting the painful expulsion of the Syriacs from their villages during the 1915 genocide. For Nahrin, restoring Syriac culture is a priority: “We have been forgotten. We want to rebuild our schools, where our language and culture are taught. We want our books and historical artifacts back. The churches in particular are cultural centers of our history, since we have no land.”
As part of the opening of ‘Nobody’s Listening’, Nahrin Malki participated in a panel discussion themed “Surviving Genocide: The Power of Art for Healing” with Yazidi genocide survivor and Yazidi painter Falah al-Rasam.