Iris Andraschek

Sapun Ghar – exquisite Aleppo soap

For the exhibition Glaube Liebe Hoffnung, Iris Andraschek produced a work in cooperation with Akademie Graz on the theme of protection and security. Her artistic practice repeatedly explores actual acknowledgement and affirmation of human existence and work. 

Soap from Aleppo
The artist imports Aleppo soap from the border area between Syria and Turkey, documenting this in a film about its production, and also processing it in installations of olefactory objects in street maps and ornamental patterns. For the Kunsthaus Shop, Andraschek now also makes Sapun Ghar available for purchase. By selling the soap, she not only honours a centuries-old tradition but also recognises survival in precarious conditions.  

A natural product made according to a centuries-old tradition
Aleppo soap is made by hand from laurel oil, olive oil, lye and water. It is a prized natural product steeped in legend, first mentioned on Assyrian stone tablets in 1000 BCE. Today, the soap is produced near the city of Gaziantep by families of Syrian soapmakers who fled the conflict in 2012.  Climatic conditions and the availability of laurel and olives in the area make their soap production possible here. So the ancient knowledge of centuries-old tradition lives on and is preserved in exile as an identity-building cultural asset.

The archaic-looking blocks, at first green, then sand-coloured, seem to come from a different age.
With their intricate stamps of Arabic lettering, the bars of soap are reminders of the producers’ old home city of Aleppo, which today lies in ruins—but also bear witness to their own survival. By starting to make soap again, they have shaken off the torpor of war and re-entered the cycle of work in seasonal production, sales and purchase, essential to the continuity of life. For the Kunsthaus Shop, Andraschek wraps the bars in old street maps of Aleppo and sells them as an “edition”, with a hopefully unlimited run.

Sapun Ghar is a purely plant-based product free of chemical additives.
The subtly perfumed soap has a refreshing, moisturising and self-regulating effect. It can be used for washing and conditioning skin and hair, to clean baby clothes, for shaving and to combat dandruff. It is also ideally suited to hypersensitive skin, allergies and neurodermatitis. Its pH value is between 8 and 9 and stimulates the body to eliminate toxins and acids via the skin.  

200g Aleppo soap is available in two varieties:
With a proportion of 5 % laurel oil at a cost of 15 €, and with 40 % laurel oil for 25 €.

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24th/25th December 2023