ABOUT THE PROJECT

في المِشْمِشْ  (Idiom)
In the apricot season, similar to the phrase “When the cows come home”

The Syrian crisis devastated a country I knew and loved.

I was, by chance, conceived in Syria, when my parents took a romantic excursion from neighboring Jordan. In 2005, I lived in Damascus for nearly a year. After documenting Iraq at the start of the US occupation and witnessing firsthand the beginning of its unraveling, I wanted to work on a different kind of Middle Eastern story, one without violence and war. While it might now seem ironic, back then, Damascus appeared like the answer to my wishes. Not only could I study Arabic at its renowned language schools, but I could also chase stories not tied to a horrible news cycle, about Sufis and mysticism for example – all while wandering the enthralling streets of the world’s oldest still existing city. Of course, I always knew darkness surrounded the country. The very stability of Syria was extracted at a heavy price. Dissent was not tolerated, neither speech nor association was free, and the notorious prisons of the Syrian regime were full of those who would object.

Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots is born out of the current terrible moment, when even greater blackness has enveloped the country.

As a photojournalist, I was often assigned to cover the spillover into Jordan of Syria’s disaster. But after each story was finished and filed, I still had endless material that was outside the scope of those assignments but needed to be shared and at the same time, needed a different kind of canvas to be more fully explored. After all, much of what defined these Syrians’ lives were the absences – of both people and places. But how do you photograph what isn’t there? To overcome such challenges, I worked collaboratively with the people I photographed to create these performed portraits.

This project is, therefore many things: study, investigation, documentary, reenactment, archive, rumination, and even séance, for those desperate to resurrect the dead or confront the past and its ghosts.

All names have been changed to pseudonyms at the request of the interviewees’ for their protection.

Credits

Photography, Interviews, and Writing Tanya Habjouqa
Content Editing and Additional Writing Alia Malek
Design Ziv Schneider
Contributor and Translator Wajd Dhnie
Copy Editor Rebecca Kornblum
Video Editing Rabab Haj Yahya
Video and Audio Editing Mashal Kawasmi
Video and Audio Editing Chris Bullata


Special Thanks to
Those families who trusted and shared their alternately inspiring and terrifying stories of seeking refuge and hope for a future for their families.

The seven-year-old whose dream to begin school this September was ruthlessly taken from him… may his memory one day be a blessing to his family in pain. Allah yirhamu.

Suha Ma’ayeh: journalist/ field and artistic collaboration and friendship.

Feryal Mohammad: an advocate for women, for Syrians, for refugees, and indeed for the “Martyrs’ Wives”.

Hala: my inspiration for how to tell their stories, and for her artistic collaboration, poetry, and trust.