we are glad to announce the winners of the competition "Untold Stories / Forgotten Maps" that was launched in November 2018. The competition aimed to draw attention towards the critical value of mapping and its role in uncovering anchors of collective and individual memory. In particular, to highlight a multitude of narratives and stories that shaped Syrian urban realities and continue to do so. The jury - coming from Beirut, London, Amsterdam and Berlin, have gathered for two days, and discussed the entries that has been received via email despite the technical issues. For that we are grateful for all those who have submitted.
The debate among jurors was heated, and it was challenging for them to judge upon maps, especially that each one has its own characteristics, stories and intimacies. The committee acknowledged the utmost value of each and single entry, and appreciated the efforts put by all participants to engage with a 'tough' topic such as urban narratives and mapping, and considered that "all entries should be winners". Yet, as part of the initiative mission, the winners and the shortlisted were chosen for standing out, and for being able to deliver messages beyond the ordinary. Therefore the Jury decided to give prizes for a First and Second winners, and three honorary mentions as follow:
Iyas Shahin, Syria
Cultural Map of Ain Fyt Village in the Syrian Occupied Golan
(Belonging to the memory of a place that is not accessible anymore)
The jurors have praised this entry for its creativity and ability to provoke thoughts and imaginations about a village in the occupied Golan Heights. Although not familiar to any of the jurors before, the map managed to embrace different layers, details and illustrations that was best described as a "juxtaposition of two memories: one that is fresh of somebody that has left Golan rather recently; and the second one is of the person who is reading back that memory and reacting to it". Thus, the jury considered the map to be a textual-visual dialogue between two generations of migrants, trying to draw lessons for the future.
Moreover, the jurors praised this entry for its serious attempt to bring all knowledge about Ain Fayt village into one place, and not forgetting anybody, and by doing so, the map succeeded in portraying and depicting a story of a "community" rather than an "individual". The depth of thought and wealth of texture and information on the map convey the desire to be exhaustive socially, architecturally, legally, and geographically. This was reflected in the multi-scalar approach and the ability of the contestant to zoom and navigate different geographical scales (from the domestic to the public) through incorporating mixed media. The jury found that to be a brilliant approach, contributing to the further explorations of maps and their abilities to engage the readers with different layers of knowledge.
This is on the one hand, while on the other, the jury wished if the map would have had better visual quality. Moreover, it has been criticized for adopting a male-oriented narrative instead of attempting to question the patriarchal structure of the society and vocalizing a multitude of gendered narratives.
Mais Kalthoum, Syria/France
Asceticism, Rebellion, and Sufism in al-Oqaibah Neighborhood
The jury praised this entry for its ability to balance between the visual qualities of the map and the ability to shed light on an important and contested site in Damascus, which is part of an important transition from what is considered heritage and modernity. The entry gives hints on the story of a controversial historical quarter, weaving different periods of time in one drawing, and the people who live/lived there, including the participant’s grandfather and sister. It acknowledges the historical value of the quarter, pushing the boundaries of what is defined as heritage and suggesting new ways of narrating history. The visual language of the map, from a technical cartographic point of view, is successful in the choice of signs, the legibility, choosing the social history behind the official naming, sequence and order, the color codes and lines, collages happening all around the canvas itself, and the scale.
The jury, however, wished the map to be more personal and bringing in the voices of the people, by putting more effort into inscribing (weaving) the normative and the lived social history together.
The jury decided not to select a third prize winner, but instead to select a list of shortlisted participants including three honorary mentions which will receive three encouraging prizes. These are:
- Nassouh Tulemat, Zena Tulemat and Alia Mortada, Syria/Egypt/Germany, Project: "Reading Homs through its Graveyards"
- Sammy Zarka, Syria/ Italy, Project: "Home and Minarets"
- Ibrahim Helal and Omar Sabbagh, Syria, Project: "22 Barriers"
- Yara Samir Al-Haswani, Syria, Project: "Wheat Wedding"
- Kinda Saad, Syria, Project: "Qattina"
The jury considered the whole shortlisted projects to reflect the broadness of the Syrian heritage and the different aspects of migration and memory, in different periods and contexts, and the geographical scope from a rural to urban settings. Each one poses a particular interesting methodological approach. The graphics though were not sufficiently reflective of the richness of the methodology (narrative). More work on them in the future can bring maturity to the final product. However, the jury appreciates the research done behind the maps and the fact that there are diverse forms of representations, from the very personal subjective narratives, to attempting to be objective and including others.
Congratulations to the winners!
All contributors will be shortly contacted to receive their certificate of participation and to organize the recipient of prizes.