Khaled Barakeh


Fire on Paper
30 x 23 cm; handstitched

Artist’s Statement

Burned(in)out is a visual exploration of the volatile dance between affection and exhaustion that ignites a dialogue about the sustainability of passion, nudging us to question how we can keep our inner fires burning without getting lost in the smoke.

At a time when isolation became the global norm, participation in Cities Under Quarantine came as an invitation to delve deep into the artistic spirit’s crucible, sift through the ashes, and find those lingering embers that might yet burst into flame. Experiencing severe burnout, the artist felt it important to draw attention to not just the product but the producer. Thus arose the idea: to let the book become not merely canvas but the artist itself, the holder.

In this conceptual frame, the book transcends its physical form to morph into a living, breathing organism. Hidden behind veiled pages, it endures a metamorphosis akin to its creator, symbolized through the elemental force of fire—a duality capturing both danger and vitality, destruction and renewal.

The title offers a dual commentary: the parentheses serve as silent observers to the internal struggle artists often experience, being trapped in a cycle that both nurtures and depletes their spirits. Much like a star on the brink of imploding after depleting its nuclear core, the work symbolizes the paradox of burning so luminously that we risk becoming mere shadows—or worse, getting caught in a cycle that both fuels and depletes, where our own risk becoming our funeral pyres.


Khaled Barakeh (b. 1976, Syria), is a conceptual artist and cultural activist living and working in Berlin whose practice is based on reframing moments of dissonance, and often outright injustice, in political, and social structures. Although he employs a wide range of artistic strategies, this is often achieved through deft manipulation of immediately recognizable and found objects, and preexisting imagery. In recent years, his projects have delved into the media’s portrayal of victims of conflict, once cohesive communities divided by political strife, and the dynamics of integration for refugees. Barakeh sees art as an opportunity for these moments to be understood, and felt, by a broader audience; not just the individuals which experience their acute effects. He graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Damascus, and received his MFA from Funen Art Academy in Odense, Denmark. In 2013, he completed a Meisterschuler study at the Städelschule Art Academy in Frankfurt. He is the founder of CoCulture e.V., a nonprofit organization that is focused on addressing the many challenges faced by displaced cultural producers in the Middle East, Europe, and beyond. Barakeh has exhibited at Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, the Shanghai Biennale, Salt Istanbul, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Artspace New Zealand, the Busan Biennale, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, among others.

Khaled Barakeh – Burned(in)out

Quarantined in Berlin; for Cities Under Quarantine – The Mailbox Project

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