From animated cartoons to suspended animation: A history of Syrian animation
Van de Peer, Stefanie
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Van de Peer, S. (2017) From animated cartoons to suspended animation: A history of Syrian animation. In: Van de Peer, S. (ed.) Animation in the Middle East: Practice and Aesthetics from Baghdad to Casablanca. London: I. B. Tauris, pp. 107-128.
In the same way that cartoons formed the basis for animation's original development at the turn of the twentieth century, so too, though much later, has Syrian animation used cartoons as its inspiration. Still, just as there is no real Syrian film industry to speak of, there is also no animation industry. By the time animation achieved popularity in Syria, the Baath Party had made its mark on the creative output of the country and even though the digital age has enabled some studios to make names for themselves, with productions exported for satellite networks in the Gulf, there is no sense of a fully integrated network of artists. Moreover, with the escalation of civil war since 2011, many artists have dispersed, essentially exiling themselves, and almost all creative initiatives and organisations have been suspended. Through an historical overview of some of the earliest cartoonists/animators and a case study of one of the most prolific Syrian animators, Sulafa Hijazi, this chapter recounts how Syrian animation has come to a full stop: after 'giving life' to cartoons and other still images during the relatively stable era of the 1990s and early animation artists have had to refocus their skills and bring their animated art back, full circle, to a standstill, in static images.