by Ahmed Salim from Fallujah
The promotion of arts in Fallujah through the creation of websites
Ahmed Salim was born in 1987 in the city of Fallujah, where he lives and works. He holds a degree in agriculture from the university of Baghdad. From 2003 onwards, he worked in the field of computers and web-design. In the beginning of that period, he started a four-week training course at a private institute. After the fall of Fallujah, he was forced to flee the city and seek refuge in Erbil, in the Kurdistan region. While in Erbil, he started a one-year course with an international NGO as part of capacity-building programme in Erbil. He also lived in Erbil for the duration of two years.
Project conceptAhmed closely followed American talk shows and documentaries, especially interviews with famous artists in the world. He came to realise that most artists become known through the advertising of their work in various media, such as websites, personal blogs, forums, and other social media platforms. Ahmed concluded that what Iraqi artists lack is proper knowledge of self-promotion, marketing, and advertisements.
Iraqi artists, especially those living in Fallujah, have very little knowledge about web design, how to create a space for viewing, debating, and exchanging ideas, or even how to upload their art work onto websites so that viewers may see their work. Ahmed believes that his project will provide artists with the knowledge to create websites, upload their work, and master design and publishing techniques. His objective is to help Iraqi artists gain exposure by allowing them to reach wider spaces and gain a large number of viewers and readers.
The inspiration for Ahmed’s project came from the situation in Fallujah itself in the aftermath of its invasion by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Due to the war and the ensuing displacement and destruction, artists in Fallujah did not have the chance to receive any training in how to make their art known to the outside world or how to flourish in the new digital age. The situation designated Fallujah as a city of war and relegated it to insignificance despite the city’s immense cultural output in music, literature, art and theatre.
Sadly, knowledge of Fallujah’s cultural heritage is lost to the outside world precisely because of a lack of Internet presence. Artists in Fallujah have little to no guidance in creating their own websites or blogs, uploading their work online, and advertising it.
There are no training courses in the city on how to design and create websites. This is the main reason why artists in Fallujah remain unknown outside the city. Ahmed’s project, which will run from eight to ten weeks, aims to train artists in website design and help them showcase their work on their own personal websites, including personal blogs and other platforms according to the specific needs of the artists and their work, styles, and products. It is Ahmed’s wish that by the end of this workshop, artists will have the tools necessary to exhibit their own work in a professional and creative manner.
In addition to the basics of web design, Ahmed will help participants develop an understanding of style (for example, where to best place artworks on the website) in accordance with universal standards. This will help art in Fallujah to move from the local to the international scene.