It’s More Than Aleppo: Virtual Reality Artist Ildiko Virag Battles Social Evil with Music
WHO’S THAT GIRL (WTG) was founded by Suse Laukert and Tanja Schmoller in April 2016. Along with the other two core team members, Toni Weichert and Kristin Frutkoff, they devote their expertise in music & film production, graphic design, online marketing and event planning, to building an international network for female artists to cooperate and exchange their creative thoughts, and battle social inequality and bigotry.
For Ildiko Virag, German singer and songwriter, her first single “Aleppo” heralding her soon-to-release debut album is “a matter of the heart”. She deeply identifies with what Mother Theresa once said: “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”
Speaking of how she was inspired to write the song, Ildiko told us: “I was never there and most likely never will experience it but I have had the honor to get to know people who once called it their home, the place they were born and spent their lives up until the moment they were forced to leave. And they were happy with what they had. What has been going on in Aleppo will happen again and again and will never stop, until the world as we know it will no longer be and humanity devolves into dust and ashes.”
Indeed, “Aleppo”, despite its name referring to a specific, physical city, is never telling the story of an isolated tragedy. It’s a powerful outcry to the people are turning a blind eye, not just to Aleppo’s reality, but the terror and pain the whole world is suffering. “What has been going on in Aleppo will happen again and again and will never stop, until the world as we know it will no longer be and humanity devolves into dust and ashes,” Ildiko said.
The message carried by “Aleppo” is for the world to hear: it’s for the Syrian refugees and victims of war in other areas of the world; it’s for the people who’ve been committing themselves to helping others out of pure altruism; it’s also for those far removed from the bleak reality of war, as a wake-up call reminding us to be grateful for having a roof over our head and food to relieve our hunger, for having our rights as human beings intact and freedom that some can only dream of.
“Aleppo” single cover art
The symbols on the single’s cover art represent the physical and emotional damage Aleppo had suffered in inhumane warfare. The city was violently forced into a downward spiral from an uprising cultural hub, to a completely ravaged war zone. To exhibit the toppling effect the war exerted over the city, the cover picture was intentionally turned upside down; the net around the head symbolizes the ceaseless strife between different war factions and cliques that isolate the city from the rest of the world. Baring of skin spells vulnerability, combined with the peace symbol, goes to show the resilience of Aleppo’s residents. This inner feeling of peace is the most important anchor of humanity during turbulent times.
“Aleppo” shooting site – a local crematorium in Berlin
The official music video of “Aleppo” was shot in a closed crematorium in Berlin. A closed-off “space”, emblematic of the city Aleppo, was created by covering 4 pillars in plastic to generate the feeling of being trapped. 4 projectors were mounted outside the walls to project shocking but authentic scenes from Aleppo onto the plastic canvases.
For the production team of “Aleppo”, to find Youtube clips showing what really happened in Aleppo was the most challenging part. To really look at pictures uncensored by the media was emotionally taxing yet nonetheless important to deal with. The projections turned out blurry, to resonates with the vague, half-truths that the media has often fed the public with.
Releasing “Aleppo” was but the first step for Ildiko and Who’s That Girl in taking actions and making the world a better place. 100% of the profits from purchasing the single will go to refugee organizations. The campaign is operated in cooperation with “Kunst gegen Kälte”/“Art Against Cold”, a nonprofit organization in Berlin offering financial support to disadvantaged communities. WHO’S THAT GIRL first got in touch with Jeannette Hagen, initiator of the project, who was immediately on board with the “Aleppo” campaign. Ildiko has been invited to several fundraisers ever since, as well as awarded with the Audience Best Newcomer Award at the 2017 L-BEACH Festival.
Set-up of the shooting rig
Please purchase the single and support Ildiko and WTG’s charitable cause at https://ildikovirag.bandcamp.com/ before the campaign closes on June 20th; “Art against Cold” will be distributing the benefits to the following three organizations:
- Mission Lifeline (Seenotrettung): https://mission-lifeline.de/en
- Swisscross Help: https://swisscrosshelp.herokuapp.com/
- Flüchtlingsparten Syrien: https://fluechtlingspaten-syrien.de/
Currently, WTG is hosting an online radio show called “Through the week with … Who’s That Girl” at the FLUXFM radio channel #RiotRadio. Following the end of this show on June 13th, “Through the week with … Ildiko Virag” will keep spreading the word about “Aleppo” and “Art Against Cold” from June 14th till June 20th.