In a new exhibition, over 250 artworks item the devastating effect of war on Iraq, something its curators belief has not been addressed culturally until now
As you walk into Moma PS1 in Queens, New York, visitors are greeted with an unlikely wall figure- 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, created in 2002 by Thomas Hirschhorn. CNN played a pivotal role in accelerating the 24 -hour news coverage of the Gulf war, preparing the speed for struggle news.
This artwork is being shown as part of Theater of Enterprise: the Gulf Wars, 1991-2011, boasting over 250 artworks by 75 masters. It details the regrettable, awful effects of war, as told by western and Middle Eastern artists.
” We realise there hasn’t been a major inspect 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 moves, versus another, sometimes on the same event .”
With the recent killing of the Isis governor Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and with US units leaving northern Syria and being deployed in eastern Syria, America’s armed existence 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 creation 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 opening given to Iraqi cultural make ?”
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 masters is opening next week at the High Line Nine in New York ), the 1991 Gulf war’s devastating impact has already been to be fully explored within artwork- at least that which has been shared with a wider western audience.