Ayman Yossri Daydban

From the ‘Subtitles Series’

Art Berlin Contemporary 2012


The basic function of Arabic subtitles in a foreign film is translation.  The subtitle works within the context of the film as a narration to the story as well as an explanation of the action that accompanies it.  As such, the impact of the picture precedes that of the subtitle and creates the framework for it. 


When removed from the context of the film, and re-exported with the image of the film still, the function of the subtitle is transformed from confirming meaning to actually producing it.  It is re-born as a unique source of content, with no past or alternative function.


The exhibited Subtitles all address the theme of political power, a subject that is now more than ever relevant to the Middle East region that for the past two years has been undergoing the revolutionary turmoil of the Arab Spring. A number of the works however (You’re a Coward, In Aradta Al-Salam), created in 2009, precede the Arab Spring, and can be considered prophetic in their expression of the artist’s unease about the increasingly volatile situation and the involvement of foreign powers in the region. Over the past two years, as the domino effect of revolution has almost systematically taken over Arab countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and currently Syria, Ayman Yossri Daydban has continued to explore this theme via his Subtitle series.


Throughout history, all periods of profound upheaval have precipitated profound change. Daydban raises crucial questions regarding the nature of these changes and the future of the Middle East; what is freedom and what is its price? What is the price of peace and can it prevail without violence? Who is your friend and who is your enemy? Is democracy an illusion?


Through a meticulously selected collection of subtitled film stills, the artist aims to put into perspective the major issues relating to the violent transformation of a historically complex geographical region and the permanence of the intrinsic inability to trust the forces of change, their allegiances or their power to create a better future.