Syrian torture survivor leads weekend of programs at Fat City Gallery |

Syrian torture survivor leads weekend of programs at Fat City Gallery

Three days of events include testimony, photo exhibit and film screening

Fat City Gallery this weekend will host Omar Alshogre to discuss his experiences of political imprisonment in Syria. (Courtesy photo)

The Fat City Gallery is hosting three days of events and an exhibition this weekend aimed at exposing ongoing human rights abuses in Syria and rallying an Aspen audience to the cause.

The gallery will host detention and torture survivor Omar Alshogre, who will give testimony of his experience Friday, followed by a exhibition of images by the anonymous photographer known as “Caesar” who has documented the Assad regime’s murder of detainees, and will close with a screening Sunday of the documentary “Red Lines.”

“We’re hoping to raise awareness of the situation over there,” curator Sandrine Frem said last week. “Not necessarily everyone knows about the situation there and in the Middle East. Raising awareness in the U.S. is super important because the population here is electing the most important man or woman in the world.”

The events are co-presented with the nonprofit Syrian Emergency Task Force, where Alshogre advocates for detainees.

“My story seems to many to be brutally colorful, but the relevance does not lie in the extent of the trauma but how you yourself are affected mentally,” Alshogre, 25, said in an announcement of the events.


What: Talk with Omar Alshogre

Where: Fat City Gallery

When: Friday, July 23, 6 p.m.

How much: Free

* * *

What: The Caesar Exhibit, co-presented with Syrian Emergency Taskforce

Where: Fat City Gallery

When: Saturday, July 24, 6 p.m.

How much: Free

More info: The evening will include a panel discussion with Mouaz Moustafa, executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force and Omar Alshogre, director of detainee affairs.

* * *

What: ‘Red Lines’ screening

Where: Fat City Gallery

When: Sunday, July 25, 7 p.m.

How much: Free

More info: The screening will be followed by a Q-and-A with Moustafa and Alshogre.

Alshogre was imprisoned at age 17 for demonstrating at anti-Assad marches in Syria. After three years in prison, he faked his own death in order to be smuggled out of captivity in 2016. Now a student at Georgetown University, he lobbies for prisoner releases and campaigns to hold the Assad regime responsible for war crimes.

“It’s not just crimes against Syrian people, it involves everyone,” said Frem, who contacted Alshogre through Instagram. “We shouldn’t turn a blind eye.”

Saturday’s show will display 10 graphic images documenting deaths from state-led torture in Syria in photos taken by Caesar, who was drafted by the Assad to photograph individuals killed in detention centers. He escaped the country and smuggled out more than 50,000 digital images, now widely known as “the Caesar file.” Alshogre will give a tour of the photographs and will take part in a panel discussion with Syrian Emergeency Task Force director Mouaz Moustafa.

The weekend’s events will close with the 2014 documentary “Red Lines” on Sunday night.

Fat City, formerly known as the Gonzo Gallery, is best known for exhibiting work from the Aspen counterculture and by figures like Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Benton. But the gallery has regularly also provided a platform for international artist activists, hosting shows like the Saudi-focused “Gonzo Arabia” in 2016 and a sale of Afghanistan photos by Sergey Ponomarev focused on women’s access to education, along with regular Liberty Salon discussions on local, national and international issues.

Other gallery efforts this summer have included a short-term exhibition last week hosted in collaboration with the locally based Global Warming Mitigation Project, which awards projects and programs that are reducing greenhouse gas emissions through its Keeling Curve Prize. The show included artwork by Isa Catto, Pete McBride and Mike Marolt.

Gallery directory Daniel Joseph Watkins said Fat City will be hosting more social justice-oriented events before the summer season is done.

“We will keep it exciting and interesting and give people something to talk about,” said Watkins. “And something to think about.”