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Essay 

Themes of Fatherland #4: Nature

In ‘Fatherland,’ the Iraq Pavilion exhibition at the Venice Biennale, the artist Serwan Baran explores the nature of war, patriarchy and militarism, based on his own experiences as a soldier in the Iraqi army in the1990s. Yet decades of ongoing war, Baran says, has also impacted Iraq’s nature and ecology. “Baghdad was once a green…

Themes of Fatherland #3: The War Artist

The Iraq Pavilion artist Serwan Baran fought as a soldier during the Iran-Iraq war, and served as a war artist in the first Gulf War. But he dismisses his art work from that period as state-sanctioned propaganda. “We painted in a realistic style but the paintings had nothing to do with the reality that we…

Themes of Fatherland #2: The Boat

Serwan Baran’s The Last General (2019), a new commission unveiled at the Iraq Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, depicts the corpse of an army general floating on a reed boat. As visitors enter the Pavilion’s first room they stumble on the clay and resin sculpture. The general’s body appears rested, but his head drops backwards,…
Essay 

Themes of Fatherland #1: The Witness

In a recent interview, the Iraqi-Kurdish Serwan Baran said of his new exhibition for the Iraq Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale: “I want viewers to be witnesses to the crime, to understand what it means to have lived a lifetime of conflict.” The artist’s new commission for the exhibition The Last Meal (2019) depicts…
Interview 

Imperial Race: A New Board Game About Iraq’s Ancient Heritage

A couple of months ago, the annual Global Grad Show in Dubai showcased innovative student-led projects from design and technology schools across the world. The Amman-based Iraqi designer and artist Durrah Alomar, a recent graduate of the German Jordanian University, presented Imperial Race, a new board game that teaches players about Iraq’s ancient heritage. Alomar…