Iraq Dialogs

Rainer Ganahl

 

Rainer Ganahl
Iraq Dialog with Ghazi Al Delaimi: Homefront Security, Countdown Iraq, 2002/03
Calligraphy and Arabic text: Ghazi al Delaimi; graphics: Alida Sini at ceramic studio: Ernan, Albisola.
Translation by Ghazi al Delaimi: A disgusting smear campaign against Iraq built on lies
ceramic tiles: 80 individual pieces, certificate of authenticity, 80 cm x 100 cm x 1 cm

 

Iraq Dialogs

My concept for this body of work consists of the exchange of ideas and opinions about the Iraq crisis with a group of Iraqi expatriates and/or refugees living in Europe. I've tried to create a platform where other people can express their thoughts and feelings about politics, as well as their personal and collective histories.
Let me briefly explain the way I worked: First I was creating “My personal war archive” (www.ganahl.info/wararchive.html) with dominant US TV news material concerning the current Iraq crisis. Second: I was isolating logos, titles, subtitles, and other interface elements from this footage. Third: I was looking for Iraqi people who were willing to participate in this work asking them to respond to these materials-NEXT TARGET?, WOULD US USE NUKES?, HEAVY BOMBING, OPERATION FREEDOM IRAQ, etc. Fourth: The results were painted on ceramic tiles after some preparatory work had been done. Some of the graphic elements were painted by me, others were painted with the help of assistants trained in painting. The Arabic calligraphy was prepared by computer and/or by the calligraphic hands of my dialog partners. In the end, the ceramic tiles were fired.
So far, I have worked with various Iraqi born men living in Vienna, Utrecht, Bremen, and Düsseldorf. A new series, entitled “Arab Dialog” is in preparation and will be realized in a tile factory in Modena, Northern Italy. Modena is the center of Europe's industrial tile production with a large Arab immigrant labor force. Each person participating in the dialog is asked to give his/her own response, opinion, and position regarding these media fragments usually associated with US news reporting. Encouraging my partners to express themselves in regards to politics and its relationship to powerful media interfaces is the main part of my conceptual goal.
These graphic and textual info-landscapes characterizing US news-broadcasting are often very confrontational, aggressive, biased if not even cynical, and arrogant. They are trying to sell, brand, justify, authenticate, and even cheerlead news content and-in this case-the war with Iraq. I am interested in re-contextualizing this TV material differently, using it in relationship with people who are directly affected by this confrontation to write back.
The presentation of these works vary. In the case of Utrecht, Albisola, and Vienna the artworks were displayed in a gallery and museum context. The tiles were resting horizontally on the floor, on wooden panels with a slightly green surface. In Bremen and Modena, the large scale tile panels will be displayed directly on walls and in public space. The size of these murals is up to six meters long.
All the sentences written in Arabic are entirely conceived by my dialog partners and don't show any input by me. In no way did I try to influence or censor these responses. They are entirely the views and statements of the participants, and are not shared by me. This work is not intended to be a platform for anti-Americanism, but for a dialog on opposing views, expressed by the people most concerned with it.
Special thanks for this project go to all the participants: My Iraqi Dialog partners, all the assistants, the ceramic studios, and finally, the organizers and sponsors of the different events in Albisola, Bremen, Vienna, and Utrecht.
Casco painting team: Evelien van Dongen; Lisette Smits; Maureen Kok; Elmer de Gruijl; Marscha Teune; Dino van der Heide; Maaike Gottschal. Bremen painting team: Kalina, Okay Altiniskik, Franz Amann, Karin Fouchard, Lia Gulua. Vienna painting team: Maria, Su Jang. Albisola: Alida Sini.
Ceramic studios: Studio Ernan, Ablisola; Studio Brigitte Reuter, Utrecht; Studio Sabine Berchtold, Vienna; Sassuolo: Forme2000 and Viva.
Casco, Utrecht, Holland, Lisette Smits; “Kunstbüro Wien”, Amer Abbas; “2nd International Biennial of Ceramics in Contemporary Art”, Albisola, Italy; “Nobody Is an Island,” public spaces and GAG; “Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst”, Bremen; “Going Public”, Modena, Sassuolo, organized by Amaze, Milan.
Photography: the artist.


Rainer Ganahl, New York, July 2003

 


Rainer Ganahl
Iraq Dialog with Amer Abbas: ABC NEWS, A12, 2003
paper, 21 x 29 cm (A4)


Rainer Ganahl
Iraq Dialog with Amer Abbas: HEAVY BOMBING, R3-20, 2003
paper, 21 x 29 cm (A4)

 


Rainer Ganahl
Iraq Dialog with Amer Abbas: LIVE, THE BATTLEFRONT, B12, 2003
paper, 21 x 29 cm (A4)

 


Rainer Ganahl
Iraq Dialog with Amer Abbas, WAR IN IRAQ, WCI, WCII, 2003
paper, 21 x 29 cm (A4)


Rainer Ganahl
Arab Dialog with Anonymous: HOMEFRONT SECURITY, 2003
Arabic text: anonymous; calligraphy: Siyam Mohsen; graphics: Rainer Ganahl
Translation by Siyam Mohsen:
we want other ideas so people can unite without making war and with respect for other religions. Be sure to make justice between people!
ceramic tiles, 160 cm x 250 cm x 1 cm
(unfinished. production in process. Arabic response was added)

 

 

 

This work was made in Sassuolo, Modena, Northern Italy. Sassuolo is the center of European industrial tile production. I went there for two weeks working together with a dozen of Arab migrant workers. They constitute the main working population in ceramic factories. In August, for this final series, I prepared printed out materials concerning the Middle East in general on which my dialog partners could write and react upon. This seris was not limited to the participation of Iraqis only.
The dialog partner prefered not to be named. He is from Morocco and works in a ceramic factory in Sassuolo.


Rainer Ganahl
Arab Dialog with Adil Assouss: POSTWAR DANGERS, MILITARY RESPONSE, 2003
Arabic text, calligraphy and graphics: Siyam Mohsen
Production: Amaze, with the help of Forme 2000, VIVA, Sassuolo.
Translation by Siyam Mohsen:
With political problems between peoples, children and civil populations are Innocent. Because of this reason the UN (United Nations) should bring to justice soldiers who kill children and civilians.
ceramic tiles: 80 individual pieces, certificate of authenticity, 160 cm x 250 cm x 1 cm
Adil Assouss is a ceramic worker in Sassuolo and is from Casablanca, Morocco.
This work is temporarily installed at the railway station in Modena, Italy.
below:
Adil Assouss responding to the TV graphic.


 

 

Rainer Ganahl
Iraq Dialog with Hikmat: TARGET IRAQ, CNBC, BAGHDAD, WAR ON TERROR, 2003
Arabic text and calligraphy: Hikmat
Graphics painting: Casco team
Translation:
IRAQ PEACEFUL LIBERATION
NO TO WAR AGAINST IRAQ
NO TO THE OCCUPATION OF IRAQ
SERIOUS INTERNATIONAL PRESSURES
first circle: INTERNATINOAL COMMUNITY BIG POWERS, UN INSPECTORS, ISLAMIC CONFERENCE, ARAB LEAGUE,
second circle: HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS,
third circle: DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS, UN HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL,
fourth circle: PARTIES, IRAQ OPPOSITION INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF IRAQ, SOCIETIES
fifth circle: FREEDOM, HUMAN RIGHTS, DEMOCRACY
THE COLLAPSE AND FALL OF SADDAM'S DICTATORIAL REGIME
painted and fired ceramic tiles, 60 cm x 80 cm
Hikmat was born in Baghdad, and has been living in Holland since 1998. Hikmat prefers not to give his full name. Hikmat worked as a teacher of physics. His brother was killed by Saddam Hussein's police in 1980, one month after the Iraq-Iran War started. He was suspected of religious activities. He was taken away and never returned. His son was just born a month earlier.
This project was produced by Casco, Utrecht, Holland for a one person exhibition summer 2003. The work was conceived months before the war with Iraq started. www.ganahl.info/casco.html

below: Hikmat working, Utrecht, 2003

 


Rainer Ganahl
Iraq Dialog with Hikmat: AMERICAN STYLE JUSTICE
Arabic text and calligraphy: Hikmat
Graphics: Rainer Ganahl
Translation:
Violation of international laws
painted and fired ceramic tiles, 60 cm x 80 cm

 


Rainer Ganahl
Iraq Dialog with Hikmat: ROAD TO WAR, LIVE, BREAKING NEWS, 2003
Arabic text and calligraphy: Hikmat
Graphics: Casco team
Translation:
IRAQ PEACEFUL LIBERATION/THE REMOVAL OF SADDAM'S REGIME WHY?/CRIMES OF THE REGIME; SMUGGLING OF IRAQI OIL; DICTATORSHIP; ECONOMIC, EDUCATIONAL AND HEALTH COLLAPSE; HANGING, KILLING, ASSASSINATIONS, PRISONS, TORTURE, MISUSE OF IRAQI OIL REVENUES; THE INFLATION OF THE IRAQI DINAR; THE CRIMES OF SADDAM'S WARLORDS, HIS FAMILY AND RELATIVES AND BY THE BAATH MEMBERS, IRAQ-IRAN WAR; OCCUPATION OF KUWAIT; WAR AGAINST IRAQI PEOPLE, KURDS, SHIITES AND OTHERS, ETC.
painted and fired ceramic tiles, 60 cm x 80 cm
detail

 

Rainer Ganahl
Iraq Dialog with Ghazi al Delaimi: COUNTDOWN IRAQ, WOULD US USE NUKES?, 2003
Arabic text and calligraphy: Ghazi Al Delaimi
Graphics painted by Studio Ernan, Albisola
Translation:
Bush doesn't know anything about Iraq and its cultural heritage. He has no clue about the old city of Baghdad once named Mdinet-al-salam: city of peace.
painted and fired ceramic tiles, 80 cm x 100 cm
Ghazi Al Delaimi was born in Baghdad, but has been living in Germany for many years. He is a graphic designer, a calligrapher and an artist. The works were prepared and produced months before the actual war started.
This work was created for the “2nd International Biennial of Ceramics of Contemporary Art”, Albisola. Fall, 2003 www.ganahl.info/albisola.html

below: installation view, “2nd International Biennial of Ceramics of Contemporary Art”, Albisola, 2003. Video, Homeland Security, 2003 (www.ganahl.info)

 

Production photographs for a logo that will be used in a large scale outdoor mural in Bremen. Approximate size: 4 to 6 meters in length. Collaborators were Binan Finjan and Ahmet Baban, both Iraqis escaping from Saddam Hussein, living in Germany.
At the moment of photographing, these tiles were not yet fired.
Logo painted by Bremen team. Each tile measures 10 cm x 10 cm
This work is created for the exhibition “Nobody Is an Island.” Bremen, Fall, 2003
www.ganahl.info/casco.html