Architect raises awareness of Syrian conflict with diorama display

Artistic representations of the Syrian conflict are on display in miniature in the US in an effort to raise awareness of the ongoing tragedy.

Visitors to the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum in Vermont are greeted by the Muslim call to prayer as they enter the display

A sculpture, called “Collateral Damage,” is one of six on view by the Connecticut-based Syrian-American architect and artist Mohamad Hafez.

The work is a scale model of a section of a bombed-out city. A high-rise with its façade sheared off teeters above crumbling lower structures strung with charred laundry while electrical wiring pokes from destroyed walls.

The lights are still on in one high-rise room, suggesting that everyday life persists. “Free Syria” is scrawled in miniature graffiti on a wall fragment; Arabic graffiti decorates others.

Hafez used found materials, including rusty nails, an old spice grater and dead batteries tyo create the work. For the walls, he used rigid foam pocked and painted to resemble strafing and cratering.

He made the recording during a trip to Damascus in 2011, shortly before the conflict started.

According to Hafez the sounds of normal life emanating from this war-devastated scene suggest the defiance and strength of the Syrian people.

“Collateral Damage” and two other sculptures, “Internal Conflict” and “A Refugee Nation,” indicate that the exhibit aims to raise awareness of the ongoing Syrian war and resulting humanitarian disaster.

The display also includes a printed-out aerial view of the Zaatari Syrian refugee camp in Turkey.