Felix Speller

Come One, Come All

Come One, Come All -  (2016)

(لتأتي أنت وليأتي الجميع )

2704x1524, MP4, 9 minutes 43 seconds.

Perspex Tank, Distilled Water, Baltic Birch Ply Plinth


'Come One, Come All' (2016) is based upon the true experiences of a young Syrian man named Ebrahim and his father.

Ebrahim, who moved to England in 1999, turned to the UK government when two of his cousins were killed fighting Assad forces in Syria. At the age of seventeen, Ebrahim was the first to bring the Syrian civil war to the attention of the UK Parliament. 'Come One, Come All' consists of a moving image piece which is supported by a book in which Ebrahim is interviewed on his views on the US, French and British intervention in Syria. The interview also discusses the impact Art has on such a major humanitarian crises and how awareness is paramount in highlighting the plight of the Syrian refugees coming to Europe.

The moving image element of 'Come One, Come All' depicts an aerial drone shot of a table laden with British iconography - a gingham cloth, cups of tea, fish and chips. A seaside banquet laid on for gulls to consume. This idea was influenced by David Cameron's use of the word 'Swarm' (when describing the refugees spreading across Europe) which liken's the refugees to a swarm of gulls. The gulls never come, despite their 'greedy' reputation.

The location of the picnic table is a reference to Aylan Kurdi, the young Syrian boy who was washed up on the beaches of Bodrum, Turkey. Half in, half out of the ocean, the table sits in a precarious position between land and sea.

Ebrahim's father, a Syrian psychiatrist, recites his own Arabic poetry over the sound of the lapping waves. The poem tells the origin story of the Assad family dictatorship; how they tricked the Syrian people with an insignificant lie which grew and perpetuated Hafez al-Assad to power (who has now been succeeded by his son, Bashar). An English translation of the poem can be found in the supporting book which accompanies the piece.

The moving image element is shown on a monitor beneath a tank of water, signifying those that have lost their lives at sea trying to escape the Assad dictatorship.

A PDF of the book can be found here.


Artist Statement -

Come One, Come All’ (لتأتي أنت وليأتي الجميع) is a subversive moving image piece. Acting as a reaction to the demonisation of the refugee crisis, the work references the pivotal photographs of Aylan Kurdi. Implementing traditional British iconography, the expectation (perpetuated by the media’s rhetoric of the ‘swarm’) is countered; the omnipresent gulls leave the table undisturbed.

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