08 Mar 2015 -
Washington Street - Battery Park - Rector Street


FREEWAY launched it’s broadcast program at Armory Focus: MENAM with a project exploring Little Syria, the vanished Arabic enclave of Lower West Side of New York City and the center of Levantine immigrants from 1890 to 1985.

At the heart of the outcomes of the project, which included multiple films, a music playlist, a podcast and a parade, is a short film directed by Jeddah based filmmaker, Husam Al Sayed, and with an original score by Dubai-based composer and founding member of Analog Room, SALAR. To develop the film, Husam Al Sayed and SALAR followed artist Brian Zegeer as he prepared for the 'Little Syria Parade', a performance commemorating this little known Lower-Manhattan community. Both Al-Sayed and SALAR were in New York for Art Jameel's 2015 artist residency with the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (EFA). Brian Zegeer is an artist-in-residence at the Queens Museum. Watch full film below.

From the 1880's through the 1940's Little Syria was the landing point for thousands of immigrants from Levant, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine, a rich cultural center that produced dozens of newspapers for the growing diaspora community, recordings of traditional Arabic music, and a literary movement that included Kahlil Gibran, author of The Prophet. Most of the community was evicted in the late 1940's through an act of eminent domain for the construction of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.

Edge of Arabia Associate Curator, Ava Ansari, and SALAR also recorded a 'PILLOWTALK' podcast conversation with the co-prducers of Museum of The Mother Colony: Todd Fine, founding President of Washington Street Historical Society (WSHS) and founding director of Project Khalid, and Brian Zegeer, Alpachian-Lebenese artist, relative of Ameen Rihani currently in residence at the Queens Museum, about their personal and professional connections to Little Syria. Listen to full PILLOWTALK: LITTLE SYRIA below.

SALAR also released a dedicated music filled podcast called PLAYTIME: LITTLE SYRIA, which speculates the sound tracks one might have heard in the vanished Arabic enclave. Listen to full PLAYTIME: LITTLE SYRIA below.

Featured Artists


Brian Zegeer was born in Lexington, KY. His works encounter the Appalachian and Lebanese landscapes of his parentage as highly-charged networks of affiliation and group narrative. Zegeer believes that the process of stop-motion animation can catalyze objects in the landscape to reveal their metaphoric, political, and forensic content--the ghosts of their obscure histories. In 2015 at the Queens Museum, Zegeer will stage the Little Syria Archive, a collection of historical artifacts, stereoscopic 3D animations, and public encounters transcribing the history and notable luminaries of New York’s first Arabic enclave. Zegeer also co-hosts the interview-based radio program I Ran into Iran (Creativetime Reports, ResonanceFM, London). He received his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, attended Skowhegan School of Sculpture and Painting in 2010, and has recently shown at The Queens Museum, The Delaware Art Museum, The Jersey City Museum, Louis V. ESP, Regina Rex, Elga Wimmer Gallery, and Stephan Stoyanov Gallery.

Husam Al-Sayed is a Saudi-based Palestinian filmmaker and founding member of the Telfaz 11, one of the Middle East's most influential Arabic online video networks based in Riyadh. With over seven million subscribers and over 750 million views throughout its network, Telfaz11 has attracted and helped launch some of the top creative internet talent in the Middle East.

SALAR is a Dubai-based Iranian performance artist, electronic music composer and founding member of the Analog Room, a DJ and music platform in the Middle East with an international residency program for electronic music composers. Since launching in 2012, Analog Room has cultivated an extensive network of regional-grown electronic music composers and generated increased awareness about the medium.


Ava Ansari is an artist, educator, and curator. She is the associate curator of The Edge of Arabia US Tour, where she recently co-curated the Culturunners Storytelling Symposium hosted by MIT's Art, Culture and Technology Program. She is the co-founder of The Back Room, a curatorial and pedagogical project that facilitates exchanges between artists and scholars in Iran and the US. Recent projects include, Open Relationship, an eight-week workshop developed in collaboration with CultureHub in New York, Sazmanab Center for Contemporary Art in Tehran, and Mani Studio in Isfahan; I Am Only a Reporter, an exhibition of later works by Ardeshir Mohassess, Modern Section of Art Dubai, 2014; A Call, a project conceptualized with Wafaa Bilal and eighty participating performers, which opened concurrently at Aaran Gallery in Tehran, and White Box in New York. As an artist, Ansari has presented work at ISEA2014, Dixon Place, La Mama, Eyebeam, the AC Institute, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, among others.

Visit our

Follow us on

Follow us on Instagram

Visit our Youtube Channel

Visit our Tumblr profile

Visit our

Or share this site: