In a brand-new show, over 250 artworks item the devastating effect of war on Iraq, something its curators accept has not been addressed culturally until now
As you walk into Moma PS1 in Queens, New York, tourists are reacted with an unlikely wall sculpture- the CNN logo at the end of an oversized gold chain.
It’s great for a selfie op, but there’s a deeper meaning to the artwork, established in 2002 by Thomas Hirschhorn. CNN played a pivotal role in speed up the 24 -hour news coverage of the Gulf war, defining the speed for conflict news.
This artwork is being shown as part of Theater of Operations: the Gulf Wars, 1991-2011, boasting over 250 artworks by 75 masters. It details the disastrous, gruesome effects of war, as told by western and Middle Eastern artists.
” We recognise there hasn’t been a major survey of Iraqi art in the US ,” said Peter Eleey, who co-curated the exhibition with Ruba Katrib.” Everyone wants to talk about the current conflict, but this conflict has been going on for 30 times. We’re looking at what an artist on one side of an issue reaches, versus another, sometimes on the same event .”
With the recent killing of the Isis chairman Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and with US troops leaving northern Syria and being deployed in eastern Syria, America’s armed proximity is as topical as ever. But for the artists who lived in Kuwait and Iraq in the 1990 s, what was it like to live through such horror?
” It’s timely but also belated, because this has not been addressed culturally ,” said Katrib.” Iraqi art has not been addressed; Iraqi culture make hasn’t been addressed either. But the US has been entangled in Iraq for three decades, so why has there been such a lack of representation, interest, or meter and cavity given to Iraqi culture production ?”
Good question. While America is slowly warming up to Middle Eastern art and culture( a new not-for-profit in Washington dedicated to Middle Eastern art opened in September, while an exhibit of female Iranian artists is opening next week at the High Line Nine in New York ), the 1991 Gulf war’s devastating impact has yet to be fully explored within art- at least that which has been shared with a wider western audience.