* ‘아시아엔’ 해외연수 기자의 한글요약본과 원문을 함께 게재합니다.
[아시아엔=라드와 아시라프 기자·번역 이주형 기자] 전쟁의 폐해는 인명과 재산에 국한되지 않는다. 전쟁은 한 국가의 문화, 철학, 그리고 사람들의 삶의 질에 큰 영향을 미친다. 또한 전쟁을 겪은 이들은 트라우마에서 헤어나오지 못해 타인을 믿지 못하고, 건전한 비판을 수용할 수 없으며, 나아가야 할 방향을 잃은 채 방황하기 마련이다. 불행만 남기는 전쟁은 예술작품의 단골소재였다. 멀리 로마시대부터 피카소, 그리고 현재에 이르기까지 전쟁을 다룬 예술작품은 인류 역사와 함께 해왔다. 급기야 1차대전 당시 사학자들은 전쟁이 사회에 미치는 영향을 반영하는 ‘문화전쟁’이라는 용어까지 사용하게 된다.
전쟁은 인류의 문화사와 어떤 연관이 있을까? 과거부터 오늘에 이르기까지의 사례들을 살펴보자. 수세기에 걸쳐 이뤄진 십자군 원정은 전쟁이 문화의 패러다임을 바꾼 대표적인 사례 중 하나다. 오랜 전쟁은 이슬람 국가들로 하여금 영토를 방어하기 위해 전 국가적인 역량을 집중케 했다. 급기야 이슬람의 선진 예술과 문학은 십자군 원정군에 맞서는 논거로 활용되기에 이른다. 중세시대, 이슬람권은 교역·문화·학문의 중심이었다. 이슬람 상인들은 향료·비단·자기·보석 등을 교역하며 부를 장악했고, 철학자들은 고대 그리스와 로마의 과학·의학 지식을 번역·보존해왔다. 아이러니하게도 십자군 원정을 통해 유럽은 눈부신 발전을 이룩한다. 이슬람에 문화유산과 이국적인 향신료 등의 교역품이 유럽으로 넘어간 것이다. 유럽의 변화상은 전쟁에 참여한 군인과 귀족 층 사이에서 더욱 두드려졌고, 이는 르네상스, 더 나아가 유럽이 전세계를 지배하는 주춧돌이 됐다.
현대로 넘어오자. 예술을 통해 전쟁의 폭력성을 고발한 이가 있으니, 시리아의 타맘 아잠이다. 그는 구스타프 클림트의 작품 ‘키스’ 등을 각색해 전쟁으로 고통받는 모국 시리아의 현실을 알렸다. 그의 아트워크 콜렉션은 전세계적으로도 유명세를 탔고, 또다른 전쟁피해국에서도 그를 따라 대중예술을 통해 전쟁의 폐해를 알리는 이들이 나타났다고 한다.
이슬람 문화권에서 음악은 부정부패와 폭력을 고발하는 무기가 된다. 젊은 예술가들은 저항의 최전선에 섰고, 이 때문에 많은 사람들은 투옥돼 고문당하거나 형장의 이슬로 사라졌다. 시리아의 음악가 아나스 마그레비 역시 음악을 통해 시리아의 비극을 노래한다. “시리아의 국경은 없다. 시리아인은 전세계 어딜 가나 있기 때문이다. 내 진솔한 노랫말은 우리의 미래를 밝힐 것이다. 우리는 시리아 사람들에게 평화와 인권, 자유의 가치를 전파해야 한다.”
포탄, 로켓, 탄환 같은 전쟁의 잔해물도 중동 예술가들의 사랑을 받아온 소재다. 아랍국가들에서 수많은 인명을 앗아간 무기가 평화를 기원하는 예술품으로 부활한 셈이다. 중동의 끊임 없는 분쟁의 산물은 ‘새로운 생명’을 부여받아 우리 곁에 자리하고 있다.
Art in war-torn countries
When a war breaks out, its consequences aren’t merely blood-covered bodies and bullets raining everywhere, it changes the cultural scene of any country. Any society that undergoes war suffers from a couple of ‘sensitivity’ symptoms, such as not trusting foreigners, inability to handle criticism, and losing all sense of direction.
War isn’t a political state only, it is a cultural and a philosophical state, and on the personal level, it becomes a psychological state as well. In wars, the idea of the herd is evidently manifested, and it doesn’t necessarily mean the negative aspect of the word, of being led to their doom without thinking. A herd could mean a change of ideas, a revolutionary thought that could turn everything around, an icon people can all look up to.
Music and tunes are different in war, books and articles as well, even philosophies change during war. Wars not only change the political and economic course of events, it affects all other cultural aspects from philosophy and sociology to architecture and literature.
The war may no longer be a living memory, but it has been woven into the culture of our modern world. Music, literature, paintings and artifacts of all kinds prove that culture lives on even after wars are long gone. War has been the recurring theme in many artistic works, starting with Roman artists to Picasso and current immigrants. War has even driven historians to come up with the term “war culture” to better understand war’s effects on society during WWI.
The Crusades and Islamic world:
The Crusades, the series of European Pope-driven military campaigns against Islamic countries through 1095 to 1487, are one of the most evident examples of a cultural shock, or change, due to a long-lasting war. The two-decade long wars made Islamic countries put all of their efforts into strategic planning and defending the land, even the art and literature front was used to support the cause. People blame Egypt and Syria’s sultan of the time, Saladin as he made a mistake of selling, or rather getting rid of books that would have been considered treasures had they survived.
During the middle ages, the Islamic world was a global center of trade, culture, and learning. Arab Muslim traders dominated the rich trade in spices, silk, porcelain, and jewels that flowed between China, the area that is now Indonesia, India and points west. Muslim scholars had preserved and translated the great works of science and medicine from classical Greece and Rome, combined that with insights from the ancient thinkers of India and China, and went on to invent or improve subjects like algebra and astronomy, and medical innovations such as the hypodermic needle.
On the whole, the Crusades had little immediate effect on the Middle East. In the centuries that followed, it was actually Europe that was most changed by the Crusades. The Crusaders brought back exotic new spices and fabrics, fueling European demand for products from Asia. They also brought back new ideas – medical knowledge, scientific ideas, and more enlightened attitudes about people of other religious backgrounds. These changes among the nobility and soldiers of the Christian world helped spark the Renaissance and eventually set Europe on a course toward global conquest.
How art can change a country’s future
Tammam Azzam, a Syrian artist, used Gustave Klimt’s painting The Kiss to protest against the war his country’s suffering from while the whole world watches. Azzam has released a collection of artworks showing photo-shopped paintings against war-ravaged Syrian buildings. The artworks have gone viral, garnering a lot of attention worldwide, inspiring others to do the same in their countries, creating their own ‘public art’.
But besides art and literature, music has been an effective way of documenting war. Fela Kuti, the Nigerian Afro-legend, one of the 20th century’s most effective politicians, once said, “Music is the weapon of the future.” His statement holds a bit of truth.
Throughout the Islamic world, music was indeed a weapon condemning the corruption, violence and lack of voice for the rapidly expanding youth population of the Middle East and North Africa. Young artists were on the front lines of protests, and because of that, many wound up jailed, tortured, exiled or killed. Yet, even as the Arab Spring was subsided by brutal governments, artists have kept fighting, whether at home or in exile, to produce music that inspires their peers to continue the struggle.
In Pakistan, a guitarist named Mekaal Hassan whose works combined Sufi lyrics and jazz music said that musicians have to take the lead. In the past, people didn’t have to deal with constant suicide bombers and the difficult relationship India and Pakistan has. It is the same for Afghanistan, where music makes it easier for people to stop supporting violence.
Anas Maghrebi, a Syrian singer whose sole focus is to let people know of the Syrian tragedy through music and see war in a different light. “Syria is now all over the world, wherever Syrians are. So I must stay honest and true to this story. At least if it doesn’t die, after 50 years, it will be a kind of origin narrative for the future, the way stories of the Holocaust or the Armenian genocide are still so important today. We can save what we can save, educate Syrian kids and everyone else about peace, human rights and freedom of expression, which were the values of our revolution,” he says.
Creating art from war remnants
The war remnants of shells, rockets or bullets have been used for many years by artists and civilians; they have turned them into vases, accessories, sculptures, and paintings.
This ‘environmental art’ has been another form of war-related art, which many people would say started in the Arab region with Palestine when they took missiles and bombs fragments and turned them into artistic reminders of the wars that killed thousands of their people.
In Iraq, they used wires and old helmets to make musical instruments and sculptures praying for peace. While in Lebanon, artists made use of their pre-war jobs in iron formation to bend war weapons to their will, turning them from their killer nature, giving them new life.