In a new expo, over 250 artworks item the devastating effect of war on Iraq, something its curators guess has not been addressed culturally until now
As you walk into Moma PS1 in Queens, New York, tourists are accosted 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 within 2002 by Thomas Hirschhorn. CNN played a pivotal role in accelerating the 24 -hour news coverage of the Gulf war, adjusting the gait for battle news.
This artwork is being shown as part of Theater of Action: the Gulf Wars, 1991-2011, boasting over 250 artworks by 75 masters. It details the heartbreaking, horrific 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 years. We’re looking at what an master on one side of an issue manufactures, versus another, sometimes on the same event .”
With the recent killing of the Isis manager Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and with US troops leaving northern Syria and being deployed in eastern Syria, America’s military presence 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 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 age and infinite given to Iraqi cultural product ?”
Good question. While America is slowly warming up to Middle Eastern art and culture( a brand-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 effects has yet to be fully explored within artistry- at least that which has been shared with a wider western audience.