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Label: iraq

Friday 11th November 2016A Sense of Perspective

Many artists like to style themselves as rebels of some description. Whether they are taking on social preconceptions, highlighting biases or simply experimenting with brand new techniques in an innovative way, they do, on some level, deserve the title. But no matter how starving you are as a starving artist anywhere in the West, you probably don't have it as bad as the artists currently hoping to rebuild the cultural legacy of Iraq.

Modern social, economic and cultural disputes aside, the area known as Mesopotamia (between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is now northeastern Iraq) is also known as 'the cradle of civilization', and with good reason. It was responsible for much of the early development of civilization thousands of years ago, ranging from agriculture to mathematics to art, and that makes the modern day problems that much more devastating. Priceless art from the last several thousand years is looted and sold on the black market to finance terrorism, and it all winds up in the hands of a wealthy collector somewhere.

Fortunately, the artists of the region haven't entirely given up hope that arts and culture will flourish again after the latest war to rage. In the ruins of a bombed out shopping centre, Iraqi-Canadian artist Riyadh Hashim and 16 other artists staged an art exhibit. Yes, you're reading that right.

Unfortunately, the exhibition was shut down only four hours after it started by the local police. Hashim had obtained verbal permission from the mayoralty of Baghdad in order to stage the show in the ruins of the Al-Hadi shopping centre, but that held no water with the police and the show was closed. Fortunately for all, Iraqi television news had arrived beforehand and over 150 visitors got a chance to see the show.

Now, Hashim hopes to restage the show, entitled Karrada, with a new range of artists and more formalized permission from the local authorities. Whether or not those authorities are ready for the sort of impact that powerful art pieces can have on the general populace remains to be seen, but here's hoping that they let the show go on.

So just remember - the next time you think you and your artist friends are being rebellious intellectually, remember what it really can mean.
 
(Image: AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
 
 

Posted on November 11th 2016 on 08:50pm
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