There is a story behind the idea of the Helmet series. The beginning of it lies in the Altes Museum in Berlin. In one of the display cabinets there is a pile of ancient helmets. These relics of fighters from different times represent cultures that used to fight each other. Now the relics are captured in the cabinet together.
This association has been coming back to my mind ever since. The picture stirred up my memories of war helmets and masks from the old Syrian culture. They are a strong symbol for the oscillation between Good and Bad in history. I have always been fascinated with archeological excavation sites. After thousands of years, all that was organic, human, has dissolved into earth. Only resistant objects remain, revealing to us the scenography of a battle. In being an inorganic remnant, the helmet functions as an imprint of the organic shape. Like death masks, helmets refer to what no longer is: the heads that used to wear them.
The shell, this remnant of man, despite all cultural differences in shape, color and material, reveals what humans have in common: vulnerability.
Is art a means of resistance? Does it fight against disappearance? —Ali Kaaf
In an era of Syrian antiquity trafficking and heritage-site looting, Al’Myra is proud to present artwork that honors the rich tradition of ancient relics. We commissioned the acclaimed Mongrain glass studio situated in Washington State, in the USA, to produce the Helmet series by artist Ali Kaaf. This collaboration between the new world and the old world yielded fine art sculptures and also fostered cross-cultural connections. The Helmet series breathes renewed life into universal values.—Tayeb Al-Hafez, founder of Al’Myra.