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, guests are accosted with an unlikely wall figure- 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, created in 2002 by Thomas Hirschhorn. CNN played a pivotal role in speeding up the 24 -hour news coverage of the Gulf war, specifying the pace for crusade news.
This artwork is being shown as part of Theater of Running: the Gulf Wars, 1991-2011, boasting over 250 artworks by 75 masters. It details the tragic, horrendou effects of war, as told by western and Middle Eastern artists.
” We realise there hasn’t been a major investigation 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 artist on one side of an issue represents, 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 armed spirit 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 likewise belated, because this has not been addressed culturally ,” said Katrib.” Iraqi art has not been addressed; Iraqi cultural yield 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 day and room 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 exhibition of female Iranian masters 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 skill- at least that which has been shared with a wider western audience.