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S.M.A.K. presents videos, performances and installations by Hiwa K
Hiwa K, Diagonal, 2009. C-Print, 133.5 x 200 cm. Courtesy of the artist, KOW, Berlin and Prometeogallery di Ida Pisani Milan/Lucca.

GHENT.- S.M.A.K. is hosting a solo exhibition focused on videos, performances and installations from the last 10 years of the artistic endeavours undertaken by Hiwa K (°1975, Kurdistan, Iraq). During the second Gulf War in the 1990s, the artist was compelled to flee his country for political reasons. Childhood memories, local traditions, anecdotes about his family and friends, everyday encounters, experiences during his 5-month flight, history, current events and politics serve as source material to form his body of work, that touches on urgent themes associated with often poignant, unstable and unforeseen conditions of existence.

The work of Hiwa K deals with historical trauma, as in Moon Calendar (2007) or This Lemon Tastes of Apple (2011); the passages of migration as in Pre-Image (2010) or View From Above (2017); institutional criticism and appropriation; the historical and geopolitical reality of immaterial and material exchanges, as in Qatees (2009), The Bell Project (2007-'15) or What the Barbarians did not do, did the Barberini (2012); and the recent history of Kurdistan in It's Spring and the Weather Is Great, So Let's Close All Object Matters (2012). Several of these themes are brought together in works as for example Pin Down (2016).

Within his work, the artist uses his identity, his body, music and play as elements of a universal language offering an insight into the story of his life and expressing his idiosyncratic take on globalisation and its impact on a wider social and geopolitical reality. The paradox of ‘belonging to’ and ‘being alienated from’ is of vital importance in the work of Hiwa K, whose hidden surname underlines his involvement in identity issues. With a process-oriented and collective approach to creation, Hiwa K frequently queries the question of authorship. Also adopting a pragmatic approach to intricate ideas, his work is repeatedly marked by emotional and social destabilization and offers alternative 'solutions'.

Hiwa K expresses the metaphor of ‘placelessness’ as a human condition in terms of a sensitive balance subject to horizontal and vertical forces: including gravity, horizontal movements and hierarchies among people, among human beings and nature, among citizens and governors. The title Moon Calendar suggests an alternative take on time and its passage. It is not only the name of one of the works in this exhibition but can also be interpreted in a broader sense as another form of orientation and navigation in the world.

Following its presentation in the S.M.A.K., the Moon Calendar exhibition will travel to the Kunstverein Hannover, Germany.

Hiwa K participated in various group shows such as Manifesta 7, Trient (2008), La Triennale, Intense Proximity, Paris (2012), the “Edgware Road Project” at the Serpentine Gallery, London (2012), the Venice Biennale (2015) and documenta14, Kassel/Athens (2017). In 2016, he received the Arnold Bode Prize and the Schering Stiftung Art Award. In 2017, he had a solo exhibition at KW, Berlin.

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