Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Slave Market: War, Prostitution and Creation

Sundus Abdul Hadi is a Iraqi-Canadian artist who lives in Canada. She draws her inspiration from Ancient Sumerian art and the early Islamic aesthetic and, in her own words, her work is “a commentary on the media, history, politics and social issues as related to being an Arab woman in today's world”.

Shortly after the US press did so, the online daily Elaph mentioned a few days ago one of her works, called “Inanna in Damascus” (Inanna is the Sumerian goddess for sexuality and war). As she explain in her blog, she wants, with this reinterpretation of Jean-Léon Gérôme, a French Orientalist painter, to “expose the sex industry that is currently running rampant in Middle East due to the consequences of the 2003 war in Iraq and the resulting exodus of refugees”. She sees that “these same connections of pimp and client, the soldier and the politician, and the Arab businessman [already] existed in the 19th century and today.”

To fully understand the strength of Sundus Abdul Hadi’s work(s), one has to remember how important the Iraqi school has been for modern Arab plastic expression, especially in the 50’s with the foundation of a local form of abstraction based on the use of the Arabic alphabet (a school called hurûfiyya in Arabic: see previous post.

Memories of such a fertile experience make the present time particularly bitter to the Arabs artists and intellectuals. The exodus of the Iraqi artists, which started in the 90’, is now so important that it is said that more than three quarters of them live abroad.

Thus, those who stayed in the country deserve a warm tribute, as does Artiquea, a gallery in London which has done its first exhibition with works done by twenty-three artists “who still live and work in Iraq”.

As usual, the link to the more elaborated post in French.

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