The Barren Wasteland
Born in 1996 in Baghdad, and lives in Istanbul, Turkey.
First Artwork Description
In the cramped quarters of Baghdadi homes, people gather to the sound of the radio, anxiously awaiting the voice of the development bulletin reader. As the American army advances towards Baghdad from both north and south, dreams fade away and the smoking of hookahs and cigarettes intensifies.
In this painting, a room filled with desperate occupants struggles to find a moment of reprieve from the constant threat of death. A father sits in a "knee-and-half" position, brushing his teeth with a bird that was killed during the bombing. A boy lies on his mother's lap as she prepares for an amputation due to diabetes. Meanwhile, a little girl plays with random objects, oblivious to the reason for her existence.In this completely barren world, dust and debris from missile storms cover everything, transforming washing benches into graveyards for the dead. Imaginary columns stand tall, supporting nothing but the weight of the air around them. The painting captures the agony of those who fight for survival, struggling to escape the charred remains of the dead.The body washing "Maghisil" moment in this painting is not only a description of war, but rather a terrifying transformation leading to a "Great Washing Machine," a dark, persistent force that has drawn itself across Iraq since 10/4/2003.
(Vision precedes words. The child looks and notices before he can speak.) With these words, the critic John Berger opened his article published in 1972 entitled "The Methods of Seeing". I am a visual artist. My materials are pens, paper, colors, brushes, canvas, and all the various other materials that I can work with in order to make a painting. The masses and volumes of statues in my city have always occupied me, and the colors in nature have always fascinated me since childhood. I have been busy with clay, pens, and inks. My artwork is an "open trail" as the Italian philosopher Umberto Eco says, and the recipient must find their own interpretation of this work according to their cultural and visual experiences. But in general, whoever looks at my works will find that the environment is like a jungle and I work on this in all my work. My topic is the climate change that the planet is going through. After man left the forest and moved away from nature, he became more brutal and deadly with the animal that was his friend. So he replaced it with other things and killed it, turning it into clothes and accessories that he wears wherever he goes.
Poaching operations and experiments on animals have led to the extinction of many species that used to share man's life. After man used to cover nature and look at the sky, he now lives inside concrete blocks, as if he put himself inside a prison that separates him from seeing nature and the sky. Man started razing forests and burning them to make greenhouses that are more like cemeteries. Therefore, it has become a human and technical responsibility to say my word about these dangerous phenomena. What I produce in my art is something that does not belong to reality, but it simulates reality in the form of images. They are messages from another world that may be a parallel world or another dimension of this world that we know. But without a doubt, I am a scientist who has a great objection to what human beings have done. It is a word of objection to the reality in which we live. The world now is a world burdened with wars, quarrels, and the height of one part over another.
The characters that I draw are people who do not belong to us. They have nothing to do with good or evil. They do not have a language like us. We do not know what they are doing, and we are ignorant of their fate, but they definitely have a destiny better than our destiny. Despite the apparent brutality in all its forms, it may be justified by playing or provocation, not caring about what the world has become now, as if it mocks us all. We who claim civilization and progress, but we have lost the spirit through which we can live in peace and to prevail the language of art and culture, instead of the language of weapons. The East has suffered more than the West from these things, and many of us have been scattered in the West, in search of a safe environment in which we can continue our journey in life and art. Today, we are witnessing a global war that threatens the security of the beautiful planet on which we live. Therefore, it is our duty, as artists, to confront the language of violence with the language of peace, art, and love.
The New Sumerians Project
Sundus Abdul Hadi
Born in 1985 in Baghdad, and lives in Ontario, Canada.
Digital Composite Image & Photography
Around 7,000 years ago, an ancient civilization known as the Sumerians settled along the banks of the Euphrates river, modern day Iraq. Their story gives clues as to our origin. Time was established as we still perceive it, and their advanced understanding of the cosmos and astronomy suggests that our ancestors had a certain access to the celestial sphere that has since been lost in translation.
THE NEW SUMERIANS is an evolving project that honours the ancestry we carry as displaced peoples. In collaboration with photographer Ahmad Nasereldein, I have created portraits that I have manipulated with the sculpted facial and body parts of Ancient Sumerians, starting with the 5,000 year old mask of “The Lady of Uruk”. This iteration begins with my origin story: my family— the microcosm. This process of transformation pays homage to our celestial ancestors, despite the passage of time and the circumstances that have propelled us away from our homeland.
These ancient sculptures carry our burdens and have witnessed our pillage. The New Sumerians is part of a larger exploration rooted in storytelling and world-building; a supernatural dimension where ancestors live amongst the unborn, and intergenerational burdens transform into wisdom.