One of the special events taking place during the show is a public lecture by Floris Schreve at the 24th of February. Return to his blog later to find the lecture there. That is happening here, but what does the sitaution in Iraq look like? An older article from the Guardian gives you some insight. For a more updated view please visit the New York based initiative Echo Iraq or if you are able to read Arabic the site of Iraqi Art.
Archive for February 2012
Some 80 Iraqi artists live in the Netherlands. The majority of them sought refuge in the Netherlands during the nineties. Most of them are still pretty unknown to wider audiences. But for the first time since 1976 Iraqi artists did take part in the Venice Biennial in 2011. Some Iraqi awakening is happening. In diasporas these developments are to be found as well. One of the examples is the present exhibition in Kunstliefde
in Utrecht.The participating artists are Salam Djaaz, Qassim Alsaedy, Baldin Ahmad, Awni Sami and Araz Talib, whilst the show is curated by Martin van der Randen. In the official flyer of the show the text runs as follows: “The five artists mix Western influences in their work, resulting in an unique international visual language. In spite of the great variety of the work of these artists, the shared background is readily apparent. They refer to an idealised image of the “land between two rivers”, the Euphrates and the Tigris, to what it might have been. To the period of cultural beauty and social civilisation of ancient Mesopotamia. They derive strenght from the rich cultural history of the country of their birth to create visual art in western Europe, using a range of techniques and materials, often in earthy colours, in paintings, graphics, installations, ceramics and sculptures.” See the video from the opening night here .
With media headlines on Israeli fans of Madonna asking thier government to postpone bombing of Iran till after Madonna’s concert in Tel Aviv I had to think of a mail from Kirsten Heshusius, a Dutch artist, who worked and continues to work in Iran, which I received last week. One could say she was provoked by the one sided stories on Iran in the Western press to just go there and have a look herself. Unlike most others, she did actually leave to look around in Iran. Why? To bring closer what seems far away. To find similarities rather than differences. She made a performance on her first encounters with Iran, its’ history, its’ people which took her to Oerol, one of the Netherland’s finest festivals. Readers of this blog who understand Dutch might wanna see a glimpse of that performance here. But the idea of diving into Iran didn’t stop there. Living the title of her performance “When you eat something here that contains salt, you will keep coming back” she continued her project. Since 2011 in cooperation with Edd Vossen, see what they are up to here.
Now this isn’t an extraordinary thing to happen – artists diving underneath the radar of media coverage of certain countries, debunking certain attitudes or even countering propaganda. But what strikes me in most of the outcomes of various of these endeavours is the focus on socalled normality. Whereas politics apparently need antagonistic sides, artists look for common ground. And more often than not a certain nostalgia plays a role in these projects. A nostalgia for better times. For times in which Iran wasn’t one of the few remaining axes in that Bush proclaimed Axis of … well, you know. The times before the 1979 revolution.As various as possible these artefacts came to my mind instantly. The enchanting stories by Eefje Blankevoort in her book “In secret everything is possible here”, the collection of materials she collected for the IISG. The sounds on the recently published CD “Rangarang – Pre-revolutionary Iranian pop“ by the golddiggers of Vampisoul. Some of the tracks are available for listening at soundcloud . And the found footage items at the great blog Shahrefarang, including this series of pictures of martyrs in everyday city life.
Don’t all these examples show how art plays a simple role? A role of bringing people back to normality when the surroundings are absurd. Offering some breathing space. Not that the Israeli Madonna fans are likely to become advocates for Iran, but perhaps they should have a look at some of the blogs mentioned here, just to realize we all smoke cigarets….
Comixiade is an international network of artists with a focus on graphic narratives and comics. The project is an initiative of the Dutch cultural organization Platform Spartak and developed further in many different European countries, connecting scenes of designers, animators, writers, poets, book-binders, political activists, storytellers, dissidents and actors.