MANAF HALBOUNI
Heilbouni
Mein Reich komme, mein Wille geschehe

The German-Syrian artist Manaf Halbouni, (born 1984 in Damascus, living and working in Dresden) questions and exposes the political role of a dictator, revealing the evident parallels of the current political situation in his homeland of Syria with recent European history. Halbouni places the scene in the headquarters of the fictional tyrant Heilbouni. Here the dictator is playing chess, the game of kings. He sacrifices his country's population as if they were pawns. In his headquarters, he is also planning his next campaigns. Just as the colonial powers did in previous centuries, Heilbouni draws new borders on the map, but this time they go through Europe. But when Halbouni has the fictional dictator rename cities and sections of Europe, giving them Arabic names, he is magnifying fears that are fueled by the current situation in many parts of Germany. 

In his series of works of outsized Arabic calligraphy in concrete, next to the word "leader" (that every Syrian child has to greet at school in the morning roll-call), which was already shown at the Venice Biennale 2015 , Halbouni also shows, "secret service" and "resistance"; terms that we have to deal with even where there are no dictatorships. Halbouni counteracts the artistic-ornamental appearance of the writing with primitive materials. The raw concrete and visible steel reinforcements of the calligraphy are a disturbing reminder of both ruins and building sites.