Jason Hamacher has partnered with The Friendship Alliance and Pepco to debut a collection of images from his cultural work in pre-war Aleppo, Syria. The Pepco substation at 5210 Wisconsin Avenue NW, DC has long served as a neighborhood gallery showcasing important cultural and historic assets.
Aleppo, Syria: Witness to An Ancient Legacy is a collection of highly stylized, medium-format 5’x5’ prints from Jason Hamacher’s personal photo archive. Hamacher was recently organizing Lost Origins Headquarters and found a box of negatives labeled “Mexico.” While inspecting the roll of film, he was shocked to find several frames from his first research trip to Syria in March of 2006.
Hamacher’s exploratory mission to Aleppo was to document one of Christianity’s earliest chant traditions in partnership with Smithsonian Folkways. He borrowed his roommate’s Holga film camera to complement a traditional Canon DSLR. Holgas are plastic “toy” cameras prized for their beautiful inconsistencies; distortion, vignetting, blur, and light leaks. The Instagram “Lo-Fi” filter is based off of the Holga aesthetic.
Aleppo, Syria: Witness to An Ancient Legacy, depicts some of region’s most iconic religious monuments: the Great Synagogue of Aleppo, the Great Mosque of Aleppo and St. George’s Syrian Orthodox Church. Portions of the Great Mosque and Great Synagogue were destroyed and Archbishop Mor Gregorious, featured in the St. George’s image, was abducted by terrorists in 2013.
Aleppo went from being virtually unknown in the United States to becoming a symbol for international catastrophe. Through his ongoing efforts, Hamacher aims to confront viewers with simultaneous visions of grandeur and resilience, not just the destruction so commonly associated with Syria.
The exhibit is best viewed in the evening through the windows of the substation.
Hamacher’s adventurous spirit, passion for people, and love of culture earned him the trust of Syrians across all socioeconomic classes and religious backgrounds. This allowed him to truly capture the essence of the Syrian landscape and its people with an immersive perspective into one of the world’s oldest civilizations through his unparalleled combination of photography, sound recording, and personal experiences. His archive of sound and image was added into the permanent collection at the Library of Congress in 2018.
Jason Hamacher is the founder and director of Lost Origins Productions and the Lost Origins Gallery. He contributes to the international conversation on Syria with frequent appearances on National Public Radio, BBC World Service, Al Jazeera, Voice of America, Huffington Post, Washington Post and the United Nations.