Timed to follow the Iraqi parliamentary election, Cornerhouse
presents the first comprehensive UK exhibition of new and recent contemporary art from Iraq since the first Gulf War, examining practices that are emerging with fresh perspectives from a culture marked by conflict and turmoil. Given the countrys recent historical context and the emphasis of media news stories on political instability, this show explores and challenges expectations of Iraq today.
Now as global attention shifts, this show provides a platform for a new generation of artists who acknowledge the aesthetics of conflict, but are not bound by them. Instead, they are fused with collapsing aforementioned associations and seek to broaden awareness of life beyond the brink of war, pointing toward other immediate concerns across the country.
Selecting works across a wide range of media by 19 Iraqi-based artists for Contemporary Art Iraq, Cornerhouse in collaboration with ArtRole, gives a subjective snapshot of the current Iraq art scene. From installation, performance, video, painting and photography, works presented deal with very individual searches for identity, whether national or historical, addressing tradition, beliefs and other themes connected to modern life in Iraq.
The exhibition also overlaps three main themes:
The Changing City
Azar Othman Mahmouds installation Bricks, is a reflection on the Iraqi nation building project. Whilst Salam Idwer Yaqoob Al-Loos painted triptych of Baghdad, charts the hope and disillusionment post 2003. Jamal Penjwenys series of photographs Iraq is Flying, playfully reminds us of the childlike wonder of being able to see from a height.
Of Time and Tradition
Bhrhm Taib H. Ameens luscious photographs depict traditional characters of Iraq, theatricality staged in contrast to reality. Mustafa Mumtaz Nooris Joza and Rbaba, sees musical instruments converted into weapons and Sawar Mohamad Amins documentary Yayli, follows the loss of livelihood for local men driving horse-drawn carts.
Muhammad Sale Rosramzada and Wrya Budaghi are internally displaced and therefore denied the right to vote in performance and video piece, Our Finger Hasnt Got Ink Yet. For Traffic, another performance to video work, Gaylan Abdulla Ismahel brings a crowd to a roundabout in Erbil to protest against the high number of traffic accidents there. Julie Adnans powerful portrait series, Born in Jail, presents photographs of women who live with their children in prison.
Julie Adnan (Kirkuk), Aryan Abubakr Ali (Sulaymaniyah), Salam Idwer Yaqoob Al-loos (Baghdad), Bhrhm Taib H. Ameen (Sulaymaniyah), Sarwar Mohamad Amin (Sulaymaniyah), Bitwen Ali Hamad (Sulaymaniyah), Gailan Abdulha Ismail (Erbil), Azar Othman Mahmud (Sulaymaniyah), Zana Rasul Mohammed (Sulaymaniyah), Natheer Muslim (Baghdad), Rohzgar Mahmood Mustafa (Sulaymaniyah), Yadgar Abubakir Nassradin (Sulaymaniyah), Mustafa Mumtaz Noori (Baghdad), Jamal Penjweny (Sulaymaniyah), Roshna Rasool (Sulaymaniyah), Mohammad Sale & Wrya Budaghi (Erbil), Hemn Hamed Sharef (Erbil), Mohammed Abdulhussein Yousif (Baghdad).