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Contemporary Arab Representations. The Iraqi Equation

2006-11-05 to 2007-01-21

Iraq is in focus at Bildmuseet. In November, part 3 of Contemporary Arab Representations will be presented, with works by artists, filmmakers and journalists engaged in the present situation in Iraq.

Contemporary Arab Representations. The Iraqi Equation is a platform for the presentation of documentary films and videos, feature films, video portraits, photographic archive materials, artistic interventions, books and magazines, live satellite TV transmissions, internet material as blogs, and other live activities such as lectures and debates. It includes projects that in different ways analyse the political-cultural situation and engage with the current conditions in Iraq.

Contemporary Arab Representations. The Iraqi Equation continues Bildmuseet’s involvement with contemporary Arab culture and was preceeded by Contemporary Arab Representations. Cairo (2004) and Contemporary Arab Representations. Beirut/Lebanon (2003).

Participants in Contemporary Arab Representations. The Iraqi Equation:

Sinan Antoon

Sinan Antoon (Baghdad, 1967) is a poet, novelist and translator. He studied English literature at Baghdad University before moving to the United States after the 1991 Gulf War. He pursued his graduate studies at Georgetown and Harvard, where he is a PhD candidate in Arabic literature. He is also an assistant professor in Arabic Culture at New York University. His poems and articles have been published in An-Nahar, As-Safir, Masharef, Al-Adab, The Nation, Middle East Report, Al-Ahram Weekly, Banipal and the Journal of Palestine Studies as well as in the anthology Iraqi Poetry Today (London 2003). His books include A Prism; Wet with Wars (Cairo 2003) and I`jam (Beirut 2004). Sinan Antoon is currently living in New York.

About Baghdad
Sinan Antoon,  Bassam Haddad, Maya Mikdashi, Suzy Salamy and Adam Shapiro
Documentary | Iraq / USA | 2004 | 90 min

In July 2003, Sinan Antoon, an exiled Iraqi writer and poet, returned to Baghdad to see what has become of his city after wars, sanctions, decades of oppression and violence, and now occupation. Antoon takes us on a journey exploring what Iraqis think and feel about the post-war situation and the complex relationship between the US and Iraq. Courtesy of Arab Film Distribution, USA.

Arab Image Foundation

The Arab Image Foundation is a non-profit organisation that was established in Lebanon in 1996. The Foundation aims to promote photography in the Middle East and North Africa by locating, collecting, and preserving the region's photographic heritage. The material in the collections dates from the early-nineteenth century to the present. Photo research from Iraq was done by the photographer Yto Barrada and includes work by Latif Al-Ani, Emri Selim Lucien, and Murad Daguestani among others.

Hana Al-Bayaty

Hana Al-Bayaty (Aurillac, 1979) is a film-maker and journalist. She studied Political Science in London. She specialized in international relations and military strategy at the Sorbonne and joined a cinema documentary school in 2001. In 2003, she made the documentary On Democracy in Iraq. Sheis a member of the Executive Committee of the BRussellsTribunal, a commission of inquiry organized in Brussels in April 2004 that investigated the crimes committed by the occupation after the invasion of Iraq. Hana Al-Bayaty returned to Iraq last summer and shot a film about the aftermath of the war in Falluja. She is based in Cairo.

On Democracy in Iraq
Hana Al-Bayaty                                  
Documentary | UK | 2003 | 52 min

On Democracy In Iraq provides an insight into a meeting of representatives of the major currents of the Iraqi opposition which took place in London three weeks before the US invasion to Iraq. Her film On Democracy In Iraq was screened as part of the Tribunal's cultural programme.

Sawsan Darwaza

Sawsan Darwaza (Amman, 1962) is a pioneer in the field of Jordanian independent theatre and film. Her ongoing cultural program An Artist With A View contains 52 video portraits of key cultural figures in the Arab world, consisting of interviews, analyses, and excerpts from individual works. Sawsan Darwaza produced and directed herself the video portraits of the prolific Iraqi Oud musician Naseer Shamma, the Iraqi film-maker Sa’ad Salman, the Iraqi French costume and jewellery designer Hana Sadek, the Iraqi poet Shawki Abdul Amir, and one of the leading Iraqi theatre directors, Jawad Assadi.

An Artist With a View. Naseer Shamma
Sawsan Darwaza | Jordan | 2004 | 55 min

Naseer Shamma was born in 1963 and received a diploma in musical art in 1987. Later he became one of the most famous Oud players in the world. Since he started his professional career, Naseer has been composing his own music and giving concerts all over the world. He is the director of the Arab Oud House in Cairo, which was founded by him in 1998.

An Artist With a View. Saad Salman
Sawsan Darwaza | Jordan | 2004 | 55 min

Saad Salman was born in 1950 and graduated from the Baghdad School of Fine Arts in 1969. He worked for Iraqi television before leaving the country in 1974. He has been living in Paris since 1976, working as a filmmaker and journalist.

An Artist With a View. Hana Sadek 
Sawsan Darwaza | Jordan | 2004 | 46 min

Hana Sadek is an Iraqi-French costume and jewellery designer and plastic artist. The main focus of her recent work is the philosophy of the oriental dress and its socioeconomic and artistic connotations.

An Artist With a View. Shawki Abdul Amir
Sawsan Darwaza | Jordan | 2004 | 57 min

Shawki Abdul Amir is a poet who was born in Nasriya in 1949. In 1973, he went to Paris to study Literature at the Sorbonne. In addition to his poems, he translated the works of several Arabic authors into French. He is currently living in Paris and Beirut where he also works as Cultural Consultant for the UNESCO.

An Artist With a View. Jawad Al-Assadi
Sawsan Darwaza | Jordan | 2005 | 54 min

Jawad Al-Assadi was born in 1947 and is one of the leading theatre directors in the Arab world. During his 25 years of exile, he has worked with theatre and actors’ groups of several countries, has written studies on theatre and several plays as well as poems. He recently returned to Iraq.

Tariq Hashim

Tariq Hashim (Baghdad, 1960) has studied theatre and film in Baghdad, Bulgaria and Copenhagen. He has directed and edited numerous film and theatre productions. After 23 years in exile, Tariq Hashim returned to his homeland, Baghdad, where he encountered political turmoil, perpetual fear and violence. Shot in only 16 hours, Hashim’s film 16 Hours in Baghdad (2004) reveals the multi layered social landscape of Baghdad today. Tariq Hashim is based in Copenhagen.

16 Hours in Baghdad
Tariq Hashim                             
Documentary | Iraq / Denmark | 2004 | 60 min

Shot in only 16 hours, Hashim’s film 16 Hours in Baghdad reveals the layered social landscape of Baghdad today. The film was awarded the Golden Hawk Award in the 4º Festival of Arab Cinema of Rotterdam.

Koutaiba Al-Janabi

Koutaiba Al-Janabi (Baghdad, 1959) studied photography and cinematography at the Academy of Drama and Cinema in Budapest. He has worked on many feature films, short dramas, TV and documentary films around the world. In 2003 the Emirates Film Festival presented him with a special achievement award for his role as director of photography on Jiyan (2003), the first Kurdish feature film. As a director, Koutaiba Al-Janabi made several documentary and short films. Koutaiba Al-Janabi lives in London.

Wasteland – Between London and Baghdad
Koutaiba Al-Janabi
Documentary l UK | 1998 | 22 min

A portrait of Nahida Rammah, one of the most famous actresses of the Arabic world from the fifties to the seventies. She started her acting career in Iraq where she became a highly influential and important figure. When the pressure of the state grew stronger she left her country for Europe. Nahida Rammah lives in London.

Nedim Kufi

Nedim Kufi (Baghdad, 1962) has studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad, at the European Ceramic Work Centre in the Netherlands and Graphic Design at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Utrecht. He works with mixed media, from paper and flowers to earth and ceramics, in order to develop a close relationship between the disciplines of printing and etching, sculpture, and design. In his frequent use of grids in his artwork, Nedim Kufi draws on the Islamic tradition of repetition and patterning. Between 2004 and 2005 Kufi published 16 issues of an on-line culture diary Daftar, an artist’s notebook in Arabic, containing essays, translated articles and other artistic projects. Nedim Kufi lives in Cairo and Amersfoort.

scrolls of texts and images, preparatory stages for this on-line art and cultural diary.

Dahr Jamail

Dahr Jamail (Houston,1968) is one of only a few independent U.S. reporters to have covered the occupation of Iraq, has spent over 8 months reporting from inside Iraq. He is now writing for the Inter Press Service, The Asia Times, Truthout.org and many other outlets. His reports have also been pub-lished with The Nation, The Sunday Herald, Islam Online, The Guardian and The Independent to name just a few. Dahr's dispatches and hard news stories have been translated into French, Polish, German, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic and Turkish. On radio as well as television, Dahr reports for Democracy Now!, the BBC, and numerous other stations around the globe. Dahr is also special correspondent for Flashpoints Radio. Dahr Jamail is based in Berkeley, California.

Dahr Jamil will lecture at a seminar at Bildmuseet on the  4th of November. Harb-al-Mukhtar, Dahr Jamail’s interpreter in Iraq, will also attend the seminar at Bildmuseet.

Faisel Laibi Sahi

Faisel Laibi Sahi (Basra, 1947) studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad in the late sixties, with further studies at the École supérieure des beaux-arts and the Université de la Sorbonne in Paris. After living for almost 30 years in Europe, Faisel Laibi continually enriches his understanding of Iraq’s unique and rich cultural heritage from the Pre-Islamic Mesopotamian civilisations of Sumer, Babylon and Assyria. His paintings and drawings express his keen sense of historical identity far beyond any patriotic attachment to his homeland. The painting Coffee Shop in Baghdad (1984) is an emblematic representation of Iraqi society in a period of relative stabilisation. Faisel Laibi Sahi lives and works in London.

Coffee Shop in Baghdad (Original Painting: 345 x 145 cm, 1984)
Collection Ali Al Bayati

Coffee Shop in Baghdad has become a symbol for many Iraqis. The work is one of a series of paintings produced by Laibi Sahi during the 1980s in London, UK. It is an emblematic representation of Iraqi society in a period of relative stabilisation.


Dahr Jamil will lecture at a seminar at Bildmuseet on the 4th of November. Harb-al-Mukhtar, Dahr Jamail’s interpreter in Iraq, will also attend the seminar at Bildmuseet.

Loretta Napoleoni

Loretta Napoleoni (Rome, 1955) is a economist and a journalist and has worked as a foreign correspondent for several Italian financial papers. She lectures regularly on the financing of terrorism. As Chairman of the countering terrorism financing group for the Club de Madrid, Loretta Napoleoni brought heads of state from around the world together to create a new strategy for combating the financing of terror networks. Her novel, Dossier Baghdad (Rome, 1997), is a financial thriller set during the Gulf War. She is the author of Terror Inc. (London, 2004) and Insurgent Iraq (New York, 2005). Loretta Napoleoni was a Fulbright scholar at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studiesin Washington, D.C. and a Rotary Scholar at the London School of Economics. As an economist, Loretta Napoleoni worked for several banks and international organizations in Europe and the US. She is based in London.

Loretta Napoleoni will lecture at a seminar at Bildmuseet on the 4th of November 2006.

Maysoon Pachachi

Maysoon Pachachi is a documentary film-maker. She studied philosophy at University College London and film at the Slade School of Fine Art and the London Film School. She teaches film and video directing and editing in Jerusalem and Gaza. In 2003, Maysoon Pachachi returned to Baghdad to shoot Return to the Land of Wonders after living abroad for 35 years. In this documentary, she accompanies her father, who has returned to head a committee drafting a temporary constitution and Bill of Rights. She follows this tortuous process, with its arguments over changes in wording demanded by Washington or compromises to satisfy sectarian interests. Moving between the political sphere and everyday life on the streets, this film enables one to glimpse the resilience of Iraqis. Maysoon Pachachi lives in London.

Salam Pax

Salam Pax is a pseudonymous blogger from Iraq whose site Where is Raed? received notable media attention during and after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Within his blog, Salam discusses the war, his homosexuality, his friends, the disappearances of people under the government of Saddam Hussein, and his work as a translator for the journalist Peter Maas. In summer 2004 Pax started a second blog titled Shut Up You Fat Whiner! Pax's weblog entries have been collected and published in the book Salam Pax – The Baghdad Blogger (London 2003). His short video diaries provide his unique view of ordinary life in today’s Iraq and are regularly commissioned for BBC's Newsnight and Channel 4 News.

Talal Refit

Talal Refit (Kirkuk, 1957) is a visual artist, architect and multimedia designer. He is a graduate from the Faculty of Architecture of the Middle East Technical University in Ankara. After working for Ankara’s Department of City and Regional Planning, he settled in Germany in 1985. From 1990 he has worked as an art instructor in painting and graphics. His work Democracy (2005) is an enlarged Arab bench, of the sort commonly found in Baghdad. Its function is to offer a substantial extension to the political notion of Democracy. The short film Epilog (2005) recalls the lost past through cartoons. Talal Refit lives and works in Bad Bentheim, Germany.


Samir (Baghdad, 1955) works with video and electronic cinema. He teaches at the Kunsthochschule für Medien (KHM) in Cologne and at the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie (dffb) in Berlin. He has made forty films, including Morlove – an Ode for Heisenberg (1986), the documentary Babylon 2 (1993) and most recently Snow White (2005). Over the years, he has focused on issues of alienation and the formation of identity. Forget Baghdad (2003) is a reflection upon clichés about “the Jew” and “the Arab” in the last hundred years of cinema and combines it with biographies of some extraordinary individuals: Iraqi-Jewish communists. He portrays among others Samir Naqqash, Shimon Ballas and Ella Habiba Shohat. Samir lives and works in Zurich.

Baz Shamoun

Baz Shamoun (Shikhan Mousel, 1964) studied television and film at the Universitas Carolina in Prague. In the short documentary Where is Iraq? (2003) the Iraqi-Canadian film-maker tries to re-enter his homeland after 27 years of forced exile. In Jordan, he meets other Iraqis who are no longer able to cross the border: workers without jobs, truckers, cab drivers and anxious refugees. Worn down by years of war, sanctions, arbitrary arrests, torture and fear of execution, the men angrily recall the darkest years of the fallen regime. Baz Shamoun lives in Canada.


Seminar November 4th, 2006

On Saturday 4th of November there is a seminar investigating current socio-political circumstances in Iraq, in particular the conditions for news reporting, alternative media and cultural production. Participants in the seminar include Dahr Jamail, free-lance journalist; his Baghdad-based interpreter Harb Al-Mukhtar; Loretta Napoleoni, journalist and economist; Hana Al-Bayaty, film-maker and journalist; Sinan Antoon, poet, author and translator, and curator Catherine David.

The seminar is supported by Crusading, a project organized by Bildmuseet in collaboration with writer Ana Valdes. Local co-organizers of the seminar include Folkuniversitetet, ABF Västerbotten, Utrikespolitiska föreningen at Umeå university and Publicistklubben.

Contemporary Arab Representations is a long-term project initiated and led by Catherine David, organised and produced by Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona; Arteleku-Diputación Foral de Gipuzkoa and Universidad Internacional de Andalucía (UNIA).

Contemporary Arab Representations. The Iraqi Equation has been produced by KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Bildmuseet at Umeå university, with additional support by the German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes)and the Spanish Ministry of Culture. Crusading is supported by Framtidens Kultur and the European Cultural Foundation.