After the Party. Portrait of a Regime.
The al-Ba’ath Party created by Hafez al-Assad’s is today one of the few remaining relic of the pan-Arab nationalist movement that emerged after the successive declarations of independence in the Arab countries. Characterised for the personality cult and the orchestrated acts of spontaneous praise of its leader, belonging to the Party was as important as enjoying the party. As Lisa Wedeen explains, the personality cult of the Assad’s was not intended to be real, but a sign of obedience. “Assad’s cult is powerful, in part, because it is unbelievable.” Hafez’s son Bashar al-Assad, despite enjoying a relative popularity as a result of his early political liberalisation measures, has nonetheless been unable of avoiding the Arab Uprisings wave to break in Syria. The images contained in this book could easily belong to any time after the revolution began.
However, these images were taken during May 2009, two years before the riots started, in a building that had recently been abandoned by the government for its conversion into a 5-star hotel. Furniture, lights, cables… everything was torn from the building, except for the posters representing the leaders of the ruling Party and its allies. The fact that all this iconography was left in place raised many questions to me. Was it accidental? Or did it express the will of a People to leave behind its leader?
The portray of the Party's building and its leader's portrait, with it's dust and dirt, becomes a kafkian portrait of the Regime itself. In any case, the Party will never be the same again.