Archaeologists on the ancient site of Tell Brak in North Eastern Syria made an unusual discovery in the 1930s: Hundreds of small figures with large eyes, no mouths, and no arms. There are few clues about what they are. More than 6000 years old, the “Eye Idols” remain a mystery.
Although small, these artifacts have endured for millennia. They refuse to disappear. The Eye Idols are acts of defiance against the passage of time.
As I was working on my new film, Ayouni, which probes the fates of Syrian open internet activist Bassel Khartabil and Italian Jesuit priest Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, the Eye Idols kept popping into my head. With their large eyes and lack of mouths, they seemed to me like silent witnesses. They reminded me of the 75,000 Syrians who have been silenced and disappeared. I asked my friend Tom Crowley to create an illustration based on the figures. And now I’m asking you—the public—to take this image and use it to create 75,000 new Eye Idols.
We’re launching this call to action by releasing 500 embroidered patches with Tom’s drawing, and making the art available online under a Creative Commons Attribution license. As you create new Eye Idols, please share them online and use the hashtag #Ayouni. I hope that in the long term, the newly made artefacts that we collectively create—like the figures that inspire them—will not only endure, but be studied, discussed, and puzzled over for years. I hope
that they will serve to keep Syria’s disappeared at the forefront of our minds as we imagine a possible future.
—Yasmin Fedda, Director.
Eye Idol illustration by Tom Crowley. Licensed under CC BY.