Crossing worlds in 5 questions




Saif Lama’a speaking


Saif Lama’a is a visual artist and works under the artist name Dumuzi. He fled Syria in 2010. In 2015 he arrived in Belgium and he still remembers all the details of this journey. At the end of January he will come to explain 6 of his works and tell a part of his story. We could not wait and already asked him 5 questions.


1. What is your performance about?


It’s about my journey, about how I came to Belgium. I tell stories, details, about others and myself, about everything we saw and experienced during this journey.


I bring 6 drawings, which I explain more about. Each with its own story. These stories are very open. I want to portray my feelings during the journey. For me this journey is still going on. I am now just in a new part of my life. I’m not sure what’s going to follow. You never really are. Belgium has become my home, but in the stories it is also clear that I never stayed in one place for long. I still have that feeling: you don’t choose to travel through all those countries in these circumstances. Every time you think that maybe you can rebuild yourself here.


With this performance I want to convey this feeling. My goal is to make contact with people, to answer their questions and make them think about my story. I want to show my vision on this journey and awaken something in my audience. The sketches are depicted on a large canvas in black and white. This was deliberate, for me all colours start with these two, they represent the beginning of everything.


2. Details are important in your performance. Is it difficult to reawaken the memories of your journey, which has lasted for 10 years?


No, not at all. For most people, unique things don’t happen every day. They have a fixed routine, which deviates from time to time. In that case, it’s normal to forget some things, because they just don’t matter.


When I think back to my trip, every day was unique. I never knew what was in store for me. My mind began to record things, as if there was a movie going on all the time for which I was the director. Because of this, I remember almost everything in detail. I was constantly in a state of adrenaline. My backpack was literally always ready to go. In addition to that adrenaline and ignorance, I sometimes feared for my life. In such a situation you get the spirit of a survivor. It’s terrible, but everyone has this in them.


3. What influence has art had on your life and has it helped you on this journey?


Art has always helped me. I started painting and drawing when I was 3 years old. Art is not a hobby, it’s who I am. Drawing is a language for me. Now I can see the same images I saw then. Where I was, who was around me. When I’m busy with my art, my mind wakes up.


So in my mind I made a documentary about myself and the people around me. I believe that what’s happening around you also has to do with yourself. I felt like I had a mission. As if it was my goal to capture everything I saw and experienced.


4. Your art also tells stories of others. What does this do to you?


Even though I experienced the events together with others, you never have the same memories. Some may have thought of their family, while I thought of something completely different. Because of this, I was left with other details than what someone else would have remembered. We all look at the world differently.


Some also want to forget their memories, but I don’t want this. It has become a part of me, has made me who I am. I’m learning to deal with it. After a while, you start to forget things and make room for new memories. That’s why it’s important to tell these stories.


It’s the beginning of all history. It started with the primeval man who drew on the wall how he hunted. This makes us human, connects us and creates a flow of information that lasts for generations and helps people evolve. I see it as sharing knowledge, to help people understand the world.


5. Suppose you could go back in time, what else would you do?


I have asked myself this question a thousand times, but I can never answer it. I don’t think I would change anything about my journey. We’ve also had to start the journey without a plan. Our journey began anew every day. We didn’t plan much in advance. Every decision you make has a certain risk and you often have to count on luck, to get to the right people or to choose the right country, for example.


The only thing that would be different if I went back in time, is that things would be easier because I now have more experience and know better what to expect.


[machine translated interview “CROSSING WORLDS IN 5 VRAGEN”, from the website of Red Star Line Museum]