KW Institute for Contemporary Art
December 18, 2005 – February 26, 2006
Iraq's cultural producers and intellectuals have been forced into isolation as a result of war and embargo. In international cooperation with local networks, this project, headed by Catherine David, examines Iraqi cultural heritage and its current significance for developments in the Arabic region. Through a series of public events held at the "project venue Baghdad" and other Middle Eastern cities, as well as the creation of a digital archive, the project will portray the diversity of Iraqi culture and the threat it faces because of its political instrumentalisation in the "war on terror". The presentation of the project's results in Berlin will be developed together with the Wissenschaftskolleg and will illustrate Iraq's symbolic role in the Arabic world in the tense state of occupation and democratisation.
The images and news that have reached us since the Gulf War, since the invasion and occupation of Iraq, depict the extremely complex political, but also cultural and social situation of the country in extremely simplified form. But the dramatic situation the country is living through is no reason to ignore the creative achievements, ideas, and difficulties that have shaped Iraqi culture in the past decades – a period upon which the revolution, political violence, and finally the consolidation of the dictatorship have left their stamp.
Since the end of the 1950s, Iraqi culture has been characterized by several phases of short, long, or sometimes permanent exile, by the growth of a vast, worldwide diaspora, and by the constrained development of artistic creation in the country itself. It is high time to confront with each other the various discourses and positions that have developed differently in Iraq and abroad, in order to map out the tensions and antagonisms resulting from this special situation. To this end, it seemed important to us to provide a forum for creative Iraqis who worked and work in the country itself or in exile: writers and poets, filmmakers, photographers and artists, experts and political analysts, but also a few foreign Iraq specialists, whose analyses contribute to a better understanding of the problems that led to the current situation.
As curator Catherine David emphasizes, the exhibition "The Iraqi Equation" does not see itself as the ultimate statement on contemporary Iraqi culture. Instead, it should be regarded as a platform displaying the creative achievements of Iraqi cultural figures. And one can't help but notice that a large part of Iraqi cultural production during the past few decades has taken place in exile.
With Sinan Antoon / Arab Image Foundation / Fadhil Al-Azzawi / Fernando Báez / Shimon Ballas / Hana Al-Bayaty / Sargon Boulus / Sawsan Darwaza / Tariq Hashim / Koutaiba Al-Janabi / Nedim Kufi / Faisel Laibi / Gema Martín Muñoz / Maysoon Pachachi / Salam Pax / Haris Pellapaisiotis / Oday Rasheed / Talal Refit / Samir / Baz Shamoun / Samuel Shimon / Hushim Al-Tawil / Saadi Youssef and others.
Contemporay Arab Representations - The Iraqi Equation is a project directed by Catherine David, organised and produced by KW Institute for Contemporary Art and the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, in cooperation with Arteleku-Diputación Foral de Gipuzkoa and Universidad Internacional de Andalucía-UNIA arteypensamiento. The Iraqi Equation is made possible through the support of the German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes) and the Ministerio de Cultura de España. With additional support from Juan Lucas Young / sauerbruch hutton architects, Al-Kamel Verlag, Schiler Verlag and Banipal magazine. A supplement to the accompanying programme takes place at Hebbel am Ufer (HAU) on January 20 and 21, 2006 under the title Middle East News.
The Iraqi Equation is a part of Contemporary Arab Representations a long term project directed by Catherine David, organised and produced by Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelaona, Arteleku-Diputación Foral de Gipuzkoa and Universidad Internacional de Andalucía-UNIA arteypensamiento. Catherine David is a Fellow of the German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes) at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.