art of resistance, Iraq

Jamal Penjweny | Remembering Iraq’s Jews.

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Iraqi-Kurdish photo artist Jamal Penjweny’s newest project envisions a new chapter in the history of Iraq’s Jews, written about on Mashallah News. It’s another great project by Penjweny.

In less than four years, from 1947 to 1951, most of Iraq’s Jews left their homes and moved to Israel. Their presence in Iraqi society has since been forgotten, intentionally or unintentionally, by many. But one man in Qal’at Saleh, a small town in south-eastern Iraq, keeps the memory alive.

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That man is the school manager, Ahmad – he kept the names, school records and photos of Jewish students. Penjweny writes about Ahmad’s mission:

“The memory of the community may be fading away, but some Iraqi Jewish names have not been erased. They are still here, recorded in the school books in Qal’at Saleh, along with their grades and their black and white photos. Portraits of children, once five feet high and 10 years old, who are today in their mid-60s, possibly living somewhere in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Haifa. Most of them probably do not know that in this small town in south-eastern Iraq, Ahmad is still keeping track of their names.”

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Read the full story and see all the photos on Mashallah News.

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art of resistance, Iraq

Iraqi lessons in flying – The art of Jamal Penjweny.

My new article Iraqi lessons in flying – The art of Jamal Penjweny is up on Mashallah News. It’s been a pleasure writing about Penjweny’s work.

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“Kurdish Iraqi artist Jamal Penjweny insists: ‘At the border, ‘the state’ becomes meaningless; identities and languages mix together, and we find ourselves as women and men sharing a common life story that defies sex, colour and nationality’. His work aims to combat stereotypes and serves as a reminder of one basis all human beings share. It is not enough to be an unbiased observer, Penjweny concludes. ‘As a part of society, an artist ought to challenge policies that aim to segregate individuals in pre-defined identities and confront their fears instead.’ ”

Read the full article and find out more about Penjweny and his photography on Mashallah News.

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art of resistance, Iraq

Iraq is flying!

Jamal Penjweny is an amazing Iraqi Kurdish photographer and a filmmaker I’ve already written about.

This time I want to present his lovely photo series Iraq is flying. It is so fresh and – uplifting!

Artist statement:

The memories from our childhood still exist, or in another expression, we still carry a bit of the child inside us. Jumping was my dream when I was a child. I wanted to fly through a highest jump to watch my house and the road from the sky and to see the entire city where I was born. It never happened! I had no chance to have a flight by airplane even once in my childhood. Now! I can see my city and even all Iraq from the tiny window of the airplane, but everything looks different. When I was a child, I used to jump with my friends for joy and happiness. I only dreamt of watching my place from height for no reason. But now! We are flying in a big competition and we all have forgotten the beauty of the games we had in childhood.

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iraq is flying. 23all images © Jamal Penjweny

For more of Penjweny’s inspiring work – go to his official website.

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art of resistance, Iraq

Childhood wishes from Iraq.

Jamal Penjweny is an Iraqi Kurdish photographer and a filmmaker with a unique sense  for the inner child in himself and – in all of us. As he describes it:

 In my village growing up we didn’t have electricty so when I was a child I brought all the old people to my house to tell stories about life and the beautiful things in life. That is where I got all the beautiful images in my mind and all of my art comes from that. Last night I dreamt about them and my childhood. I miss them..

He is playful, a dreamer, a drifter. Adventurous soul – he just might be the one who coined never say never ages ago. I hope I will have the chance to introduce all of his wonderful work, but for today – I wish.

Artist statement:

I wish 

As children we all have dreams of becoming famous, we see Maradona play soccer or a Bruce Lee film and think that we will be stars like them when we grow up. But life gives us another way, we become something else, and we do not get a chance to live these dreams. Each of the people photographed in this series had dreams of sports stardom. The man in the mountains wanted to become a champion swimmer but he was born in a place with no swimming pools, the man with the Bruce Lee photo took karate lessons and then became a Mullah, the man with the Ferrari photo always wanted to be a racecar driver- now he has a donkey and sells gasoline. Life is not like animation, you cannot paint anything you want. I made this project to give one moment when dreams can become reality, so each person can act out their dream even if they cannot fulfill it in real life. 

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557256_10150926068938157_768022756_nall images © Jamal Penjweny

Remember you dreams and follow them! And for more of Penjweny’s work – go to his official website.

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