Thursday, February 19, 2009

NY Times'ın "A New Role for Iraqi Militants: Patrons of the Arts" haberinden

müzeleri yıkılan, yağmalanan; akademi öğrencilerine güvenlik duvarları dekore ettirilen bağdad'dan bir sergi haberi. adı "insaniyet ışıkları"; sadr'ın koruması altında. ve ny times'ın durum okuması...

And so Baghdad’s first Sadrist art exhibition, titled “Beacons of Humanity,” collected 80 works of art by 39 Iraqi artists and displayed them for three days on the eve of a Shiite holiday commemorating the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein, which culminates in Karbala on Monday.

Some of the works are jarring, challenging fundamentalist interpretations of Islam that forbid depictions of human figures. Others suggest peace, reconciliation and the triumph of good over evil. For Iraqis, the mere fact of the exhibition was a sign that Iraq’s artistic traditions might have not only survived years of war and chaos, but also emerged reinvigorated.

Hassan Nassar, who owns a gallery called Madarat, one of the few that stayed open during the worst of Iraq’s violence, called the Sadrists’ patronage of the arts welcome, if unexpected.


For Baghdad’s artists, anyway, the opening of any gallery space amounts to an artistic revival after years of despair. Art suffered like everything else during the country’s descent into sectarian warfare. Museums and galleries closed. Art sales evaporated, depriving artists of means to live.

Many fled the country, among them Akram Naji, a ceramicist who went to Syria for medical treatment and stayed for two years. He returned last year and, for the exhibition, created a triptych of bright ceramic forms. The colors, he said, were a response to the violence.

The exhibition took place in a gallery and studio called Biyarq, which means flag. It is located in a worn house in Baghdad’s Waziriya neighborhood, a cultural region of sorts, anchored by the Academy of Fine Arts.

Its director, Hasim Hamid al-Hashami, opened the gallery six months ago as an artistic oasis, with workshops and lectures as well as exhibitions. Standing on the gallery’s roof, he gestured to a lot below, spotted with weeds and broken furniture, and imagined a theater for the performing arts. There are already separate studios for painters, designers, sculptors, actors and playwrights.

The gallery is even putting up Adel Dawod, 39, a painter who recently arrived from Nasiriya, striving to make it in his country’s capital. “I wanted to live the life of art in Baghdad,” he said.

The gallery is independent, an artists’ collective, but it welcomed the Sadrists’ commission: a series of works focused on Imam Hussein’s example of resistance and martyrdom in the fight against injustice, a foundation of Shiite faith.

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