art of resistance, Iraq

Absence (Iraq of Nedim Kufi).

Nedim Kufi is an Iraqi-Dutch visual artist I’ve already written about.  Last time I wrote about his project Electrify Baghdad, and today I wish to present his other work – Absence.

Artist statement:

I present here two inseparable images, exemplifying one existence, which tell the story of a departing homeland and of my resettlement away from it. The setting of the image was once our home in Kufa during the 1960s. The first image was created by my father, which he took with his dark red-box camera, and the second is of my creation, which I have modified with Photoshop as an unrestrained expression of my feelings of emptiness and banishment. Nearly forty years separate the two images, and by this act of remembrance, I am attempting to recollect that moment in time; emotionally, intellectually and qualitatively.

Whilst the situation in my country, Iraq, which I now watch from a distance, is deteriorating day after a day, there remains a virtual and concurrent existence between the two images, marking that daunting distance. It expresses the disconnection between the home of my childhood and that of my expatriation. Omitting my persona from the first image would, I think, be unique, if taken as a serious visual drama, an expression to help me reach closure by translating my hidden feelings during a lengthy period of loss and despair. I do not, however, think that this portrays my case only; it is the condition of every migrant departing his homeland, either willingly or forcefully, going astray into the unknown. – 

My suggestion here is of an imaginary space, within which I might be able to acknowledge the plethora of illusions and obsessions which have occupied my mind, and which have brought me forward towards a serious search within this imaginary space. My question throughout the search has been: “Who omits whom?” After such a prolonged absence from my homeland, and after missing finding the way back, “home” became in my view, no more than an image empty of its prima facie content, flimsy as the word “missing,” now so commonly circulated in Iraq.

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all images © Nedim Kufi

For more on this project, go to The Arab Review.

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art of resistance, Iraq

Electrify Baghdad – Let there be light.

Nedim Kufi is an Iraqi-Dutch visual artist. He was forced to leave  his hometown of Baghdad in 1990 following the chaos of the First Gulf War. He is currently participating in 3D artistic visualization and environmental design for architectural projects in the Netherlands and Germany. He works with mixed media ranging from paper and flowers to earth and ceramics, in order to develop a close relationship between the disciplines of printing, etching, sculpture, and design. With his frequent use of grids in his artwork, Nedim draws on the Islamic tradition of repetition and patterning.

His project Electrify Baghdad (2008) is an amazing video work. Kufi digitally manipulated a Google Earth satellite view of Baghdad at the time of the “Shock and Awe” terror attacks in 2003. During the course of the attack, the city experienced major black-outs as a result of failing electrical systems. The explosions of bombs and missiles looked like brief pulsations of light. We could see that every neighborhood was targeted. The radar scans and military helicopters sweeping across the screen were signs that the city was under military surveillance. Towards the end of the video, as the city descends into total darkness, the artist “relights” the city transforming it into a brilliant tapestry of many points of light. Metaphorically, not only is Baghdad brought out of the darkness but also into the light of the Spirit. Electrify Baghdad is an absolutely beautiful video that communicates the artist’s profound spiritual orientation. And – it brings hope.

asssElectrify Baghdad, Nedim Kufi

Kufi has done some great projects, and I’ll be sure to write more about his work sometime in the future. In the meantime, see more at Iraqi artists in exile (StationMuseum).

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