Fritz Best was born in London in 1964. He studied Painting and Printmaking at St. Martin's School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art in London and trained as a commercial printer at the London College of Printing. Most of his work is informed by graphic processes. Trans-cultural dialogue has always been a theme his life. Whilst Professor of Printmaking at Leipzig’s Academy of Visual Arts, Fritz ran an exchange programme with Art faculties in the Middle East. He ran German-Arab workshops and curated exhibitions in the Arab World and Germany. His experience of working in Arab countries has profoundly affected his work and fuelled his interest in generating documentary strategies. In 2011 the British Council awarded him a grant to realise Portrait Studio Damascus.
Artraker Award for Innovation in Narrative, 2014, Supported by a/political
CONFLICT AREA / COUNTRY OF REFERENCE: SYRIA
© Artraker CIC 2014
I¹m going back home. My father's still there, he's a doctor. In the beginning we started treating the wounded. We had to defend ourselves.
I went out in the morning to catch a microbus. Somebody started shooting from a rooftop. Everybody was killed except me. I was newly wed. My husband, who is in the army, came to visit me in hospital. When he saw the state I was in he divorced me.
Driven by the need to respond to the Syrian suffering, we realised our project, with displaced Syrians in Jordan. Our project does not take sides, we oppose all forms of armed conflict.
Our goals were trauma relief and documentation. We worked with wounded adults, and refugee children. Making a linocut means beginning with a black, negative, void, rather than a white sheet. Most refugees are destabilised by the feeling of having had the ground removed from under their feet. Revealing an image by cutting into a solid material is an act that gives a sense of empowerment.
Their gradual discovery of the technique enabled us to form intimate relationships. With growing trust each began to reveal their story. Struggling to master a craft, they were inadvertently transported home, back to a lost world. By giving their loss a form, this helped combat the feeling of being a faceless number within a humanitarian disaster.
Since 2006 she has maintained two studios in the historic centre of Damascus where she does her own work, and has organised workshops and discussion groups with local artists. Most of Nora's work is on paper and using water based mediums. She has always been interested in the portrait, mostly of imaginary or remembered faces. From 2011 the upheavals in Syria had a profound effect on her work and she struggled to find the adequate means to respond to the pain she was witnessing around her.
"Mirror-Image" is Nora and Fritz' working title for projects dealing with the relationship between the Orient and Occident. "Cutting away the Void" is their first joint art venture designed to help victims of the war in Syria.
Cutting Away the Void - Hafer al Farargh,
Linocut prints on paper -
Portraits of Amman's Syrian refugees, followed by workshops for the children of the refugee community.