Gotta Catch ‘Em All

“Pokemon Go in Syria – Part 1”

Interview with Khaled Akil

ISIS standing on Tank and Pokemon character next to them
Courtesy of: Khaled Akil “Pokemon Go in Syria Part 1”

People are trying to “catch ’em all” in the midst of  the Pokemon Go phenomenon – meanwhile in Syria, people are trying not to get ‘caught’ and killed.  Khaled Akil is a freelance artists born in Aleppo and is the creator of the project entitled, “Pokemon Go in Syria- Part 1”. This project has gone viral  and gave people the opportunity to take a moment, reflect, and think about the war in Syria. Here at The ViewPoint News , we wanted to get to know the man behind this project a little more. Khaled Akil explains to us his project and a glimpse of his future art work.

Q: Can you tell the readers of The ViewPoint News  a little about yourself?
A:  I was born in Aleppo city, and studied law in Lebanon and now I work as freelance artist.
Q: I’m sure this topic hits close to home, since you are from Aleppo…how did you feel while working on this project?
A: I think about my country all the time, me and all Syrians we live in an infinite nostalgia with the passion of showing the world the consequences of war, I feel my duty is to show this so people think twice before taking part of any war.
Q: This artwork / project is different from your other work. What did it mean for you to create this project ? Why did you specifically use Pokemon Go as the theme?
A: I’m bad writer, for me art is a way to express what I feel and think, this project is different from what I usually do because it is a quick statement on what is taking place in Syria, meanwhile I’m working on an art project, it’s been a year preparing for it and hopefully soon I’ll be able to present it.
Q: By creating this project, what message were you trying to send people? And did you have specific target audience in mind?
A: this project was a spotlight on what is happening in my city,  is not to blame people for not paying attention for Syria neither a political project.
Q: What reaction did you think your project would invoke?
A: I wasn’t expecting any reaction, I only had hope that people throughout this project will be able to recognize that somewhere on this planet life is different, and maybe while you’re looking for a Pokemon to hunt, there another person looking for somebody to kill.
Q: You chose specific pictures for your project…is there a meaning behind each one? If so can you please explain ?
A: The meaning of all picture is the destruction and the bad consequences of all wars.
Q: Has this project been exhibited so far?
A: Not yet
Q: What does art mean to you ? 
A: I never practiced law, art for me as a way to live and survive, I chose to do what I love and that’s how we as human beings survive in this ultra fast world.
Q: Do you think that in a time of war, art holds some sort of importance? Do you think there is a relationship one can link between Politics and Art? 
A: Art is a way to document war in an indirect way, powerful artworks stands forever, tells the story all the time.
Q: So far you have created “Pokemon Go in Syria – Part 1” can people expect a part 2?
A: I chose to leave it open for part 2, not necessarily I will make it soon, now I’m working on different project, it’s also a statement which I think it is very important to talk about, it’ll be online very soon.
Q: What future projects do you have in mind?
A: In 2014 I worked before on a project named A Woman Between, it was about the Yazidi women who were taken as sex slaves by ISIS in Iraq, and since nothing has changed, I decided to make a new project showing these women as brides, for a year I worked with young talented fashion designer Rakan Shams Aldeen on getting these dresses done, I put the concept and symbols and he got the outfits done, now I’m aiming to find a museum or art gallery to fund this project, first to use this dress in my works and then to make an installations out of the dress.
Three children in rubble in water and one jumping in with a Pokemon character next to them
Courtesy of: Khaled Akil “Pokemon Go in Syria Part 1”
Little boy with his bike and Pokemon character next to him with Syria in rubble behind him
Courtesy of: Khaled Akil “Pokemon Go in Syria Part 1”
Pokemon character on rubble homes in Syria
Courtesy of: Khaled Akil “Pokemon Go in Syria Part 1”
Young boy and a few men standing on rubble , destructed building behind them in Syria with Pikachu next to the boy
Courtesy of: Khaled Akil “Pokemon Go in Syria Part 1”



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