The South London Gallery presents a restaging of the group exhibition, Welcome to Iraq, originally shown as part of the National Pavilion of Iraq in the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013.
Commissioned by Ruya Foundation for Contemporary Culture in Iraq (RUYA), established in 2012 to promote culture in Iraq, Welcome to Iraq was curated by Jonathan Watkins, Director of Ikon Gallery, Birmingham.
Welcome to Iraq brings together works in a variety of media by eleven contemporary artists, almost all of whom live and work in Iraq. Works were selected to highlight the depth and breadth of artistic practice in Iraq, but also to expose a shared emphasis on the nature of everyday life there, exemplified by a determination ‘to make do and get by’ and an inventiveness borne out of necessity in extraordinary historical circumstances.
Following extensive studio visits across Iraq, curator Jonathan Watkins selected clusters of works by photographer Jamal Penjweny, political cartoonist Abdul Raheem Yassir, painters Bassim Al-Shaker, Cheeman Ismaeel and Kadhim Nwir, and sculptors Furat al Jamil, WAMI (Yaseen Wami, Hashim Taeeh) and Akeel Khreef. Film and video is also included, with recent works by Ali Samiaa and Hareth Alhomaam both looking in different ways at communications between the sexes.
In both Venice and at the South London Gallery, visitors can sit and drink tea while learning more about Iraqi culture. An extensive array of books and comics are available to read, presented in collaboration with the Iraq National Library and Archive.
South London Gallery Website