Turn The Lights Back On: Using Noble Gas for a Noble Cause

By Andrew Cottrill . November 25, 2015

Don’t neon lights make everything better? Perhaps they could even make the world better. This Thursday, neon light extraordinaires SYGNS are using their neon artworks to help make potentially thousands of Syrian children’s lives a little bit brighter.


Turn The Lights Back On is a charity event set to raise money for Save the Children – a charity working tirelessly to improve the lives of refugee children, victims of the Syrian conflict.

But SYGNS has created a novel way to raise money: with a poem. “The Drowned Shadow of Ahmed” is a poem by Syrian-Palestinian poet, Ramy Al-Asheq. Written in Arabic, the poem consists of 100 words, each of which SYGNS has handmade in neon lighting. The poem will fill the wall of Friedrichshain’s Box Freiraum gallery.

For between €80 and €120, you can purchase one of these words (all proceeds will be donated to Save the Children) and, once purchased, they’ll turn the power on and that word will become illuminated. Once every word has been bought, the whole poem will come to life.

Light has often been used as a symbol for hope, but here, in Turn The Lights Back On, it literally represents it.


“The Drowned Shadow of Ahmed” tells the story of a group of refugees who perished when their boat sank during a treacherous sea journey to safety. Whilst thee character of Ahmed never existed, thousands of real people have shared his fate (and many more still do).

Ramy Al-Asheq is one of the survivors.


In 2011, he took part in peaceful demonstrations and non-violent protests against the Syrian regime, which led to him being arrested. Eventually, he had to leave his home country due to the increasing amount of danger his life was in. He since released his first book, “Walking on Dreams”, in 2014, and now writes on the subject of the Syrian crisis for many Arabic and German newspapers and publications. He is also the cultural editor of Freedomrise Magazine, published in print and electronically, that is distributed inside Syria and in Syrian refugee camps.

Turn The Lights Back On will also feature a poetry reading by Ramy Al-Asheq, as well as the exhibition of Syrian artwork, “Pieces From Exile”. And, in true Berlin fashion, there will be a DJ set by Jeange.


And if all of that being generous and donating money makes you hungry, Saj Me Up will be serving a middle eastern dish called Saj, a flatbread filled with a choice of fillings. Saj Me Up will be providing all food for free, and there will be a donation box (again, 100% of proceedings going to Save The Children).

Turn The Lights Back On’s Programme:

18:30: Street Food from Saj Me Up
20:00: An introduction from SYGNS
20:15: Live poetry/music performance by Ramy Al-Asheq and Jeange
21:00: Time to get together and chat

Turn The Lights Back On
Thursday, November 26th from 18.30
Boxhagener Straße 93/96
10245 Berlin-Friedrichshain

Visit Turn The Lights Back On’s Facebook event here.


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