In a new exhibit, over 250 artworks detail the devastating effect of war on Iraq, something its curators conceive has not been addressed culturally until now
As you walk into Moma PS1 in Queens, New York, tourists are reacted with an unlikely wall carve- the CNN logo at the end of an oversized golden 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 crucial role in accelerating the 24 -hour news coverage of the Gulf war, mounting the pace for campaign news.
This artwork is being shown as part of Theater of Operations: the Gulf Wars, 1991-2011, featuring over 250 artworks by 75 masters. It details the terrible, horrendou effects of war, as told by western and Middle Eastern artists.
” We realise there hasn’t been a major questionnaire 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 years. We’re looking at what an master on one side of an issue obliges, versus another, sometimes on the same event .”
With the recent killing of the Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and with US units leaving northern Syria and being deployed in eastern Syria, America’s military 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 fright?
” It’s timely but too belated, because this has not been addressed culturally ,” said Katrib.” Iraqi art has not been addressed; Iraqi cultural make hasn’t been addressed either. But the US has been caught in Iraq for three decades, so why has there been such a lack of representation, interest, or day and seat given to Iraqi cultural creation ?”
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 exhibition of female Iranian artists is opening next week at the High Line Nine in New York ), the 1991 Gulf war’s devastating effects has already been to be fully explored within prowes- at least that which has been shared with a wider western audience.