55. Biennale – Padiglione iracheno

Venezia - 30/05/2013 : 24/11/2013

L'Iraq è presente alla Biennale di Venezia con una mostra collettiva.


Comunicato stampa

Welcome to Iraq shows a selection of works from eleven contemporary artists living and
working inside Iraq curated by Jonathan Watkins and commissioned by Ruya Foundation
for Contemporary Culture in Iraq (RUYA).
Artistic emphasis is on the nature of everyday life as it is now lived in Iraq, exemplifying
a determination ‘to make do and get by,’ an inventiveness borne out of necessity in
extraordinary historical circumstances. Iraq is insinuated into the exhibition space,
creating a salon atmosphere where visitors can sit, read and learn about Iraqi culture and
drink tea

In collaboration with the Iraq National Library and Archive books and comics
are available to read.
Photographer Jamal Penjweny, cartoonist Abdul Raheem Yassir, painters Bassim Al-
Shaker, Cheeman Ismaeel and Kadhim Nwir are shown alongside sculptors Furat al Jamil,
WAMI (Yaseen Wami, Hashim Taeeh), Akeel Khreef and video artists Ali Samiaa and
Hareth Alhomaam. Following studio visits across Iraq, these artists were selected to
highlight the depth and breadth of artistic practice in modern day Iraq.
Abdul Raheem Yassir (b. 1951, Qadisiyah, Iraq) is widely regarded as one of the best
political cartoonists now working in Iraq, responding to the absurdity of his
circumstances with ironic humour and poignancy. His style is smart in the way it suggests
innocence, knowing in its directness. In one of his line drawings, he takes on Iraq's
inexperienced police force. Officers are shown diligently frisking a man, apparently
unaware of the huge revolver in his hand.
Female artist Furat al Jamil (b. 1965, Mainz, Germany; lives and works in Baghdad,
Iraq) is a filmmaker, but has been selected to show one of her rare sculptures. A
suspended honeycomb frame drips its contents into a broken antique pot, in order to
Jamal Penjweny, Saddam is Here, 2010, courtesy of the artist and RUYA Foundation
convey sweet melancholy, a sadness that she feels about her homeland in its current
state whilst inspiring hope in the possibility of healing and new life.
Jamal Penjweny (b. 1981, Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan) has garnered attention with
his extraordinary series Saddam is Here, featuring Iraqis in everyday places – on the
street, in hotel rooms, in shops – holding a photo of the former dictator over their own
faces, demonstrating the lasting impact of his brutal regime.
Taking Iraq’s lack of ecological awareness in his sights, Akeel Khreef’s (b. 1979,
Baghdad, Iraq) sculptural pieces are made out of material taken from discarded objects.
Bits and pieces of a broken generator and an old bicycle, for example, are used to make
chairs, in gestures of recycling that touch on an urgent need for raised consciousness
with respect to the environment and limited natural resources.
Hareth Alhomaam’s (b. 1987, Baghdad, Iraq) short film, Buzz, exemplifies the stilted,
mediated nature of communications between the sexes in modern Iraq in spite of the
advent of social media. We follow the short story of a young man and a young woman as
they navigate daily life in Baghdad with family and friends.
Filmmaker Ali Samiaa (b. 1980, Baghdad, Iraq) presents a new film, The Love of
Butterflies. It tells a story in which dramatic tension is derived from a balance struck
between marital infidelity and family commitment, between a firm moral stance and
Cheeman Ismaeel (b. 1966, Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan) is a painter who applies her
decorative style not only to canvases but also to household objects, such as a television, a
clock, an oil heater and a lunchbox. The proposition is refreshingly personal and
unpretentious, blurring the line conventionally drawn between fine art and more
domestic concerns.
One of the youngest artists in the exhibition, Bassim Al-Shaker (b. 1986, Baghdad, Iraq),
is stylistically one of its most traditional. Eschewing any sign of avant-gardism he paints
scenes of the southern marshlands, suggesting a lifestyle there of unbroken tradition.
The recent reality is very different, of course, this being a place that suffered terribly
during Saddam’s dictatorship.
The canvases of Kadhim Nwir (b. 1967, Qadisiyah, Iraq), on the other hand, are more
abstract and reflect urban life through a combination of distressed colour and graffiti-like
drawing. Stencilled letters and numbers sometimes convey clear messages – “IRAQ”,
“2003” – or they embody a meaning known only to the artist, superimposed on layers of
vague pictorial references. Such expressive and complex mark-making, in light of
difficult circumstances, reads as a kind of existential self-awareness.
WAMI is an artistic partnership quite rare in Iraq. Yassen Wami (b. 1973, Basra, Iraq)
and Hashim Taeeh (b. 1948, Basra, Iraq) work together to make installations of furniture
from new and used cardboard. The poor material and basic, minimalist style they prefer
are entirely at odds with a popular taste in Iraq for gilded home furnishings. Their ethos
of “making do and getting by” – articulated with great wit – is a far cry from incongruous
About the Curator
An internationally renowned curator and writer, Jonathan Watkins has been Director of
Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, since 1999. Previous positions include Curator of the
Serpentine Gallery (1995-1997) and Director of Chisenhale Gallery (1990-1995). He has
curated a number of significant international exhibitions including the Guangzhou
Triennial (2012); Negotiations, Today Art Museum, Beijing (2010); Sharjah Biennial
(2007); Shanghai Biennale (2006); Tate Triennial (2003); Facts of Life: Contemporary
Japanese Art, Hayward Gallery, London (2001); Quotidiana, Castello di Rivoli, Turin
(1999); and the Biennale of Sydney (1998). He was part of the curatorial team for Riwaq:
Palestinian Biennial (2007); Milano Europa 2000, Palazzo di Triennale, Milan; and
Europarte, Venice Biennale (1997). www.ikon-gallery.co.uk
About Ruya Foundation for Contemporary Culture in Iraq
Ruya Foundation for Contemporary Culture in Iraq (RUYA) is an Iraqi registered nonprofit,
non-governmental organization founded by Iraq art and culture enthusiasts with
the aim of aiding and enriching culture in Iraq and building bridges with the world. The
foundation’s goal is to promote and foster culture in Iraq at a time when priorities are
focused elsewhere, and to build a platform that will enable Iraqis in the arts, the young in
particular, to benefit from, and participate in international events. In addition to
supporting local projects, its aim is to create a network of intercultural events that can
contribute to the development of civil society in Iraq. It is also committed to nurturing a
multicultural dialogue through the arts. www.ruyafoundation.org
The local commissioner in Venice is associazione culturale Nuova Icona.
Exhibition Name: Welcome to Iraq
Exhibition Dates: 1 June – 24 November 2013
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm
Location: Ca' Dandolo, Grand Canal, San Polo 2879, Venice
Vaporetto: San Tomà
Website: www.theiraqpavilion.com
For press information and images please contact:
Sophie Campos or Aimee George at Pelham Communications
Tel: +44 20 8969 3959
Email: [email protected] or [email protected].com