Sinan Antoon, Arab Image Foundation, Hana Al-Bayaty, Sawsan Darwaza, Scheherazade Qassim Hassan, Tariq Hashim, Koutaiba Al-Janabi, Nedim Kufi, Faisel Laibi, Pierre-Jean Luizard, Maysoon Pachachi, Salam Pax, Talal Refit, Rashad Salim, Samir, Baz Shamoun and Saadi Youssef
Project directed by: Catherine David
Contemporary Arab Representations is a long-term project which includes presentations of works by authors from different disciplines (visual arts, architecture, literature, thought, film), seminars, performances and publications. The aim is to enable production, circulation and exchanges between the different cultural centres in the Arab world and the rest of the world. The project looks at the complex dimensions of aesthetics in relation to social and political situations to acquire a more precise knowledge of what is happening now in various areas of the Arab world. If the first and second parts focused on Beirut/Lebanon and Cairo/Egypt respectively, this third stage of the project turns its attention to Iraq.
Since the Gulf War and the invasion and occupation of the country, the images and incomplete news that reach us from Iraq through the mass media have to a large extent simplified and distorted representations and information about what is an extremely complex political, cultural and social situation. Contemporary Arab Representations. The Iraqi Equation does not propose an “exhibition” of modern or contemporary Iraqi art; rather, it provides a platform for information, meeting and debate open to artists, film-makers, authors, analysts and activists able to throw some light on the historic, political, social and cultural context that has led to the present situation and to suggest possible ways out of the nightmare that is everyday life for the Iraqi people today. The aim is, then, to put events, images and ideas into perspective to step back from the immediate horizon of destruction, confusion and chaos, a situation deliberately maintained to the benefit of a few, and to gather testimonies and actions enabling us to make an inventory of a complex cultural inheritance and to encourage possible projects with Iraqis, both inside the country and elsewhere.
The project also devotes a large space to photographic and video images, and television recordings from several Iraqi networks, which welcome visitors, giving them an idea of the diversity of faces and situations in Iraq, contrasting with the dramatic, recurring images of the war and the stereotypes that European media usually help to propagate. A selection of recent films and videos documents different aspects of the situation in Iraq, and the reactions and opinions of Iraqis from different social groups: a first programme shows “returns to Baghdad” filmed by Iraqis who had left the country in the more or less recent past (Sinan Antoon, Tariq Hashim, Maysoon Pachachi, Baz Shamoun); another features news video clips made by one of the most famous Iraqi bloggers, Salam Pax, highlighting the leading role played by the new media in informing and forming perceptions of this war, a very different one in this respect from the 1991 “war without images”.
A third programme is devoted to Hana Al-Bayaty’s films of the latest meeting of the Iraqi opposition in exile in London in 2003, three months before the war began, and the sessions of the Brussells Tribunal to gather testimonies about the violence and war crimes committed by the coalition (and the government that acts under its authority) against the civil population. A series of portraits of leading Iraqi cultural figures by Sawsan Darwaza and Koutaiba Al-Janabi also provides a new vision of the diversity of talents and discourses to be found in the country.
Fundació Antoni Tàpies Web Site