PROJECT: A Hope and Peace to End All Hope and Peace

Hoshyar Byawelaiy, 2023. Production stills for video installation in progress. Photo courtesy of Rushdi Anwar.


A Hope and Peace to End All Hope and Peace is a project that explores the cause and effect of arbitrary lines drawn by foreign powers in their fight to control what has historically been called the ‘Middle East’. Three key subjects are central to this project. Firstly, the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, a colonial secret pact designed by Britain and France that senselessly divided this ‘Middle East’  into a continuing oil-fuelled chaos; secondly, the human agents that History debates as the champions of Kurdish culture and its sovereignty: from Ezidi Mirza (1600-1651), a Yazidis military hero who challenged the Ottoman Empire;  from Sheikh Mahmud Barzanji (1878-1956), a much-loved ‘King’ and bane of the British Empire’s desire to control Kurdish territory; to Hoshyar Byawelaiy, a Kurd committed to the single-handed demining of Kurdish land today. And thirdly, the mimicry of colonial methodologies of terror – from British propaganda to Saddam Hussein to ISIS campaigns – a landscape, both human and non-human, suffering mass displacement and destruction that continues to be ravaged by proxy wars and religious extremism.

The sculptures, installations, sounds, and moving images in this project investigate these occurrences, embracing such materials as hand-woven rugs, archival photographs and documents, brass masonry, colonial carpentry, hand-touched prints, molten-bomb utensils, filmic documentary, historical radio propaganda and more.

A Hope and Peace to End All Hope and Peace focuses on the plight of the ‘Middle East’ – highlighting its heroes who became villains, its friends who become foes – understanding that the colonial mechanizations that have shaped its current condition are of parallel to the history of Southeast Asia, a region that continues to endure the ramifications of the Colonial Empire and its desire to divide, conquer and exploit.

Elements of this project have been previously exhibited in:

 – ‘A Hope and Peace to End All Hope and Peace’ (solo), Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok, 24 November 2023 – 10 March 2024.
 – Artes Mundi 10: National Museum Cardiff, UK, 20 October 2023 – 25 February 2024.
 – ‘Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present’, Sharjah, UAE, 7 February – 11 June 2023.

Text by Zoe Butt

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding, and advisory body.