Charlotte Bank Projects
Sadik Alfraji: Ali's Boat (2014)

Where Have All the Jasmines Gone

 curated by

Charlotte Bank and Salah Saouli

Art-Lab Berlin

June 2020 - June 2021

Opening: Point d'orgue

Sound installation by Farah Hazim & Wissam Sader


Artists: Sadik Alfraji, Khaled Barakeh, Chaza Charafeddine, Ghassan Halwani


Artists: Hanaa El Degham, Jeanno Gaussi, Manaf Halbouni, Soudade Kaadan

Naked Cities

Artists: Sherif El Azma, Tammam Azzam, Rabih Mroué

(in cooperation with Galerie Kornfeld and House of Taswir)

Bodies That Matter

Artists: Hela Ammar, Marwa Arsanios, Tagreed Dargouth


In December 2010, the Tunisian street vendor Mohamad Bouazizi poured petroleum over himself and set himself on fire. He later died of his injuries in the hospital. Protests on the streets and squares of Tunisia followed and developed into the so-called “Jasmine Revolution”, which led to protests in other Arab countries. Young people took to the streets to demonstrate for more individual rights, for jobs and social justice. It seemed as if a broad social front against ossified power structures was forming, hopes were high that things could actually change. But the setbacks came quickly, followed by new authoritarian structures and wars with devastating consequences. At the moment the situation looks quite bleak for human rights and democracy in the region. And yet, changes have happened on different levels in the societies of the Arab world, and the recent protests in Iraq and Lebanon have shown that the spirit of defiance is still alive. With the project Where Have All the Jasmines Gone, we want to investigate what remains of the initial hopes 10 years after the protests of the “Arab Spring” began and, together with artists and intellectuals, to investigate where and in what form changes are noticeable as well as the possibilities of participation for art and artists in these processes.


The Arab revolutions did not occur in a vacuum, but happened in an international climate of change that was felt in the broader Middle East and other regions of the world. In 2009, a protest movement had formed after the presidential elections in Iran, the "Green Revolution", in which the country’s youth expressed their frustration with the prevailing conditions. When revolutionary movements formed in Tunisia and Egypt in December 2010 and were successful in disempowering the rulers Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, they became an inspiration for further protest movements in the region and internationally. In the United States, the “Occupy Wall Street” movement formed to protest against the power of the financial world and in Spain the movement of the “Indignados” (outraged) stood up against economic and social grievances. In Turkey, the protests against the planned building projects at the Gezi park in Istanbul was a protest against the selling out of communal urban spaces, but also a rallying cry against the increasingly authoritarian state. In the Arab world, protest movements were also formed in Bahrain, Libya, Syria and Yemen, which were carried by the young generation, a generation which, regardless of being well-educated, often saw themselves excluded from the job market and social and political decisions.


At first glance, there is not much left of the original hopes fuelling these protests. Syria has sunk into a devastating war, which has brought extreme misery to the population, and civil wars raged in Libya and Yemen, which led to international interventions, again with catastrophic consequences for the civilian population. In Bahrain, the protests were brutally suppressed and the royal authoritarian regime seems as strong as before. Yet, as seen in last months of 2019, protests have broken out in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon with similar aims as those of ten years ago, against authoritarianism, lack of transparency in political decision making and overcome structures. The revolutionary movements of the early 2010s seem to have created a heightened critical awareness in which people dare to speak about topics that have so far been taboo. And while the focus has mostly been on social problems and political structures, changes are also visible in other spheres, such as sexuality and gender relations. More people have a feeling that it is in their power to change things, something which has been powerfully illustrated in the recent protests in Iraq, Iran and Lebanon.


With the long history of conflicts, waves of displacement and forced migration in the Middle East, its people have also developed remarkable measures of resilience and particular strength faced with an insecure future. This history, its lessons for the present and the future will be the starting point of the project, during which we will take a closer look at the possibilities of art to overcome the past and work for change.

Supported by Hauptstadtkulturfonds

Naked Cities exhibition view Sherif El Azma and Tammam Azzam, November 2020
Charlotte Bank Projects |