2009 Iraq

In Diagonal, the work by Hiwa K, the artist is depicted inside of a fallen watchtower, his body strained as if in an attempt to push it even further. The sun is high and there is a shadow cast by the derelict fragment of architecture. What emerges is the tension between the luminous sky and the contrasting brutality of the concrete walls and surrounding barbed wire. The human figure is vital and energetic, positioned in the way that recalls the classical representation of the masculine body, like in the Discobolus. There is no plinth, no pedestal that holds the hero though. And there is no hero. The dysfunctional architecture of control provides little support for standing still as if the process of falling is still going on. The title of the work has abstract qualities. It does not contain a historic resemblance although it is clear to us that the location chosen by him is neither accidental nor lacking this reference. Not really a documentation of performance and not portraiture either, the photo brings numerous references without the actual circumstances being known.

We are looking at Amna Suraka – the Red Security Building - built in the early 1980s by Saddam Hussain in Sulaimany – a Kurdish city in Northern Iraq – as a political prison for those who opposed the authority of the Ba’ath Party. The building was taken over by the rebels in 1991 and severely damaged. Still it remains a dark symbol of the authoritarian regime in the very centre of the city. The artist has a lot of memories connected with the shifting history of the site, which used to be just a meadow, then a football field, then Amna Suraka’s construction site, where he and his sisters and cousins used to play hide and seek. The work sprouts from these mixed memories and emotions, pointing towards what is trembling, shaking and uncertain in the way one can be present without an ideological position, with all memories and associations within.

Written by:Aneta Szylak