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Performance on the rubble

August 25, 2012

The video Over Rubble, The Brave Continue to Stand for Freedom, appeared on the SyrianDaysOfRage youtube feed on August 3, 2012. The video differs from most of the clips from the Syrian available online. It does not have a solely evidential function, as it is not a direct documentation of the Syrian Army’s atrocities, shelling of cities, piles of mutilated and dismembered torsos, etc; it is not a call for attention as in the videos of victims describing what went on during an attack as in a news reportage; it is not of army defectors or formation of battalions declaring their position to the internet; not a documentation of direct confrontation between the Free Syrian Army and the regime; not Assad forces “leaked” videos. This video is of a group of civilians (or they appear to be) staging a performance over rubble from a recent shelling in Talbiseh near the city of Holms. Holding placards with slogans and information, the group chants La Ilaha Illa Allah, and Assad is God’s enemy. The person on the top right in what appears to be the kitchen holds a sign that reads “home of martyr Jalal aldin Latoof,” thus we know that the performance is taking place over what once used to be his house. Others signs are either asking for God’s mercy, or include messages to Assad. In the middle of the image someone is waving the Free Syrian flag. In the group of four on the left one is holding a sign, another a flag and the two children are each holding a smaller placard. Upon closer scrutiny it becomes clear that the two children are wearing masks.

Over Rubble, The Brave Continue to Stand for Freedom, youtube still frame

The video at once shows the destruction of the city, it includes information about its location, but also by turning the site of destruction into a stage it implies a consciousness with regards to the spectacle of the war and directly addresses it. It shows that not only the rebels are using the media to disseminate information and as a documentary tool, but are also aware of the medium and its possibilities and complexities. The video is showing not the dead, but the survivors, it commemorates the dead, but does not turn them into evidentiary material, it acknowledges their presence, or rather absence, but not by victimizing them through the image. The technique is not dissimilar to the songs in epic theater, while the larger narrative that it is inserted in is the visual online database of the conflict. It is made to go on the flow of clips and appear on the side bar, and momentarily disrupt the stream of violence, while not discarding it by way of complete distraction.

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