Issa Touma is a photographer and curator from Aleppo (Syria). His photographic work can be found in international collections, including at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Finding himself isolated from the international art community in his own country, Touma established the Black and White Gallery in 1992, the first photography gallery in the Middle East. After its closure in 1996, Touma founded Le Pont, an independent art organisation and gallery that promotes freedom of expression and stimulates the local art scene through international events. In 1997, he started the International Photography Festival Aleppo, which despite the horrors and uncertainties of the conflict, continues to take place every year. In 2012, shortly after the war broke out, he initiated Art Camping. This event in the form of workshops counters violence with artistic interventions. Its aim is to bring young people from various religious and ethnic backgrounds together, encouraging them to express themselves through culture. Issa Touma is the first guest artist in Gävle, Sweden, a city of refuge for visual artists. They welcomed him as an ICORN artist, facilitated by Perpetuum Mobile, in March 2016.
Issa’s short film 9 Days – From My Window in Aleppo (2015) has recently won the prestigious London Film Festival’s Short Film Prize. It is also among the 15 nominees for the European Short Film Award 2016. The winner will be announced the European Film Awards Ceremony on Saturday 10 December, in Wroclaw, European Capital of Culture 2016.
Issa Touma’s residency was organised in collaboration with Perpetuum Mobile and HIAP in Helsinki in October-December 2014. It was curated by Perpetuum Mobile.