PROJECT: Facing living past in the present

Title: “Facing living past in the present”, (Excerpt)
Medium: HD single-channel digital video with sound
Video Length: 12.30 min
Size: Installation dimensions variable.

In the work Facing Living: The Past in the Present, I utilised a printed photograph, on paper, of Saddam Hussein. In this work a fragmented image of this Middle Eastern dictator is repetitively torn and pieced back together, until the image is no more – representative of this political landscape and the self-interest of its rulers.

At the beginning of 2004, I went back to visit Kurdistan/Iraq. It was my first visit since I left the country in early 1997. It was the epoch of the post-Saddam regime. At that time, there were campaigns for the general election in 2004. It was the first democratic election in the history of the country since the establishment of Iraq by western colonies (British and France) almost 100 years ago. The citizens were very hopeful that the new Iraqi Government and its leadership would fulfill their hopes and dreams including freedom. Moreover, political parties and their leaders were using slogans such as “Iraq of Hope and Peace” in their political speeches and propaganda; that was how the new Iraq was going to be.

Nevertheless, every new government established since, has not yet delivered their promises of freedom, stability, hope and peace. Citizens are still living under the shadow of the past. Therefore, every time a new government is formed and the leadership changes, citizens raise their hopes, yet once more another disappointment emerges. The new epoch of modern Iraq (post-Saddam regime), in a sense still functions in the shadow of the Saddam era. Similarly, this situation (hope turning to disappointment) is reflected during the “Arab Spring” in other Middle Eastern countries, in fact the current crises of socio-political landscape in the region is witness to this situation.

As artist Richard Long states, “I use the world as I find it”. I too have utilised what I have found, reflecting on and responding to, particular themes – namely my personal experiences and cultural heritage linked to socio-political histories of Iraq and the Middle East. To me, art is a means to study the world in which I live, belong and seek to understand and is not created with intention to persuade anyone, except myself.