This roughly chronological list highlights some of the exhibitions, projects, works and events that I am interested in for this project. It is by no means exhaustive; many exhibitions dealing with war and politics have included work responding to Iraq but here I am focusing on things that were framed primarily or largely in relation to Iraq. I’m happy to receive suggestions for things to include via comments below or email. I’m particularly interested in images of the 15th February 2003 protests that show examples of what might be considered everyday, vernacular or folk art, that is, art-like things made by people who are not generally identified as artists.
If you find this timeline useful, please acknowledge it in anything you write, make or do.
Our Life in Pieces: Objects and Stories from Iraqis in Exile This exhibition, which was organised by Act Together at Diorama Gallery in London, aimed to dispel the idea that Iraq could be equated with Saddam Hussein. The exhibition, which was planned for over a year before the war started, opened in early March 2003 and presented objects and stories by Iraqis who had responded to an invitation to contribute a meaningful artefact associated in some way with Iraq. http://arts.guardian.co.uk/pictures/0,,924787,00.html See also discussion by co-curator Nadje Al-Ali in www.worksanddays.net/2011/File07.Al-Ali,%20N,%207.pdf.
Anti-war protests A wide array of art created by demonstrators as well as recognised artists was an intrinsic part of the anti-war protests of 15th February 2003, widely considered to be the largest in British history. Particularly prominent were placards with the iconic NO design in black typography on a white background with red spatters evoking blood, created by the distinguished artist-designer David Gentleman and replicated for later protests with slogans such as ‘No more lies’, ‘Bliar’ and ‘Troops Out’. http://blog.eyemagazine.com/?p=2961
before. after. now: Visions of Iraq This exhibition at the Deluxe Gallery, Hoxton, curated by Rashad Selim brought together artists from Iraq (including Hana Malallah, Karim Rissin, Nazar Yahya and Shamsi Al-Din Amin) and Iraqi artists living in the UK (including Jananne al-Ani, Alaa Siraih, Dia Azzawi, Koutaiba al-Janabi and Rebwar). The exhibition was described as the first to show in the UK new art made in Iraq since the beginning of the war. http://www.undo.net/it/mostra/15580
Expressions of Hope This exhibition at Aya Gallery in London brought together work by Iraqi artists including Adalat, Leila Kubba, Saadi Dawood and Rebwar in response to events in Iraq, with the aim of motivating people positively and inspiring them with hope for a more positive future. http://www.ayagallery.co.uk/4666.html
Drift Topography This installation by Thomas Hirschorn, which comprises a square arrangement of cardboard cutouts of soldiers ‘guarding’ a city made from boxes, card, cotton wool and foil, was acquired by the Tate in 2004. http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/hirschhorn-drift-topography-t11885
Pax Britannica This exhibition at the Aquarium gallery showed responses to war by a range of artists, designers and cartoonists including David Gentleman, Jamie Reid, Banksy, Peter Kennard, Martin Rowson and Steve Bell. 96 editions of a portfolio containing prints signed by the artists were produced and (owing largely to the inclusion of the rare Banksy work ‘Wrong War’) now sell for around £10 000. Images of many of the works are also reproduced in Stop the War: A Graphic History (London: Francis Boutle 2011). http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/gallery/2011/dec/13/stop-the-war-a-graphic-history-in-pictures
Black Rain: Reflections of War A collaborative project by Sadiq Toma, Yousif Naser, Satta Hashem and poet Fawzi Karim, Black Rain stemmed from a meeting of UK-based exiled Iraqi poets, writers and artists one week before the start of the war. An exhibition took place at the Charnwood Museum in Loughborough. Yousif Naser has continued to work on a series of paintings under the title Black Rain, which have been exhibited periodically in the UK and abroad.
Award A series of works by kennardphillipps responding to the creation of the Global War on Terror Medal by George W. Bush in March 2003 and the Iraq Medal by the Ministry of Defence in 2004, which was exhibited at City Hall, London. http://www.kennardphillipps.com/tag/award/
War on War Room The War on War Room was created by kennardphillipps (a collaboration between Peter Kennard and Cat Picton-Phillipps) for the East International ’05 festival at Norwich Gallery. In response to a call for proposals by curator Gustav Metzger, the artists transferred their studio equipment and practices to the gallery to enable visitors to participate in the production of work that could be transmitted “via the airwaves, internet or television stations”. During the project the artists filmed a ‘STOP’ poster they had placed on the boundary fence of Lakenheath air base, as a war plane took off over them. http://www.kennardphillipps.com/east-05-war-on-war
An Illustrator in Iraq An exhibition of work by Matthew Cook from two tours of Iraq, one as an illustrator for the Times newspaper and one as a member of the Territorial Army, at the Coningsby Gallery, London. http://www.coningsbygallery.com/exhibition/matthew-cook-an-illustrator-in-iraq-october-2005
War Artists in the Middle EastAn exhibition at the Imperial War Museum London, drawn from its own collection and showing work from the First World War to Afghanistan and Iraq.
100 000 Drops of Blood In February 2006 David Gentleman created a work which consisted of 100 000 red circles on white card, representing people killed by the invasion and occupation, laid out across Parliament Square. www.thecnj.com/review/2009/081309/books081309_04.html
Word into Art This British Museum exhibition, which explored the use of writing in contemporary art from the Middle East and North Africa, included a number of works by Iraqi artists (including Maysaloun Faraj, Dia Azzawi, Satta Hashem, Rashad Selim, Walid Siti, Kareem Risan) addressing or alluding to current and previous political conflicts. http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/online_tours/museum_and_exhibition/word_into_art/word_into_art.aspx
Tears of the Ancient City An exhibition at Leighton House in London, Tears of the Ancient City presented work painted since 2003 by Suad al Attar in response to the invasion of Iraq.
Untitled Iraq exhibition of large canvases mounted on scaffolding poles by kennardphillipps at Photofusion, Brixton. http://www.kennardphillipps.com/untitled-iraq-2006/
Obscenity Exhibition of work by kennardphillips against the Iraq war and Israeli intervention in Lebanon. http://www.kennardphillipps.com/category/exhibitions/page/2/
Santa’s Ghetto kennardphillips’ work Photo Op, showing an image of Tony Blair taking a mobile phone picture of himself against the backgdrop of a burning oilfield, was shown in the window of this temporary exhibition on Oxford Street around Christmas 2006. http://www.kennardphillipps.com/category/exhibitions/page/2/
State Britain In 2006, acting under newly-passed legislation, police dismantled and removed much of the display that had been assembled on Parliament Green by anti-war protestor Brian Haw. The artist Mark Wallinger responded to this development by recreating the display (with the title State Britain) within the Duveen Galleries in Tate Britain, a short distance away. As he related, “it became quite a simple matter really of making something visible that the authorities had made invisible”. In 2007 Wallinger was awarded the Turner Prize for the work. http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/exhibitions/wallinger/
Recording Iraq An exhibition by the Ken Stanton Archive at the Arnolfini in Bristol, which displayed 200 hours of unedited video gathered from Iraq during and following the invasion by television producer Michael Burke, along with transcripts of interviews with Burke reflecting on the process of making such material public. http://www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/recording-iraq-ken-stanton-archive
Queen & Country In May 2003 Steve McQueen was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum to create a work responding to the war. Following a trip to Basra with UK armed forces and a period of reflection, McQueen proposed that soldiers killed in Iraq be commemorated in a series of official stamps issued by the Royal Mail. Working with service members’ families, who chose a favourite photographic portrait of their loved one to be used in the project, McQueen produced a series of facsimile postage stamp sheets, displayed in a wooden case. The display subsequently toured a series of galleries and institutions around the country and in 2010 was exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery. A campaign led by the Art Fund, pushing for the proposal to be adopted by the Royal Mail, ended without success in 2010. Queen and Country was again exhibited at Gold Thread Gallery in Belfast in 2012. http://www.artfund.org/queenandcountry/Queen_and_Country.html
Blairaq Staged at the Leonard St. Gallery in Hoxton around the time of the resignation of Prime Minister Tony Blair, Blairaq showed work made by kennardphillips against the Iraq war and the war on terror.http://www.kennardphillipps.com/blairaq http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=12201
Memorial to the Iraq War While memorials are conventionally constructed some years after conflict has ended and following long deliberation, the ICA hosted a challenging and provocative exhibition curated by Mark Sladen that asked contributing artists to create proposals for memorials to the Iraq war while it was still taking place. For the exhibition, artists including Jalal Toufic, Jeremy Deller, Liam Gillick, Lida Abdul and Sam Durant produced a series of installations, images, models, sketches and videos that addressed the war, some directly, others more allusively. http://www.ica.org.uk/13499.twl
Iraq Triptych Sculptor Michael Sandle’s work depicted scenes from Iraq in two panels, with the centre occupied by an image of Tony and Cherie Blair emerging from No.10 Downing Street as if in the Garden of Eden. Awarded the Royal Academy’s Hugh Casson Prize for Drawing, the work received widespread media coverage in the UK and beyond. http://www.thedrawinggallery.com/drawPop.asp?id=89
Truth or Consequences This work by pop artist and former army officer Gerald Laing is a painting that, when viewed from different angles, reveals two alternate scenes: George Bush and the bombing of Baghdad; and Tony Blair and the No.30 London bus destroyed by a suicide bomber on 7th July 2005. It was acquired by the National Army Museum and went on display there on the second anniversary of the London bombings, causing controversy. http://www.geraldlaing.com/index.php/work/warpaintings/P12/
Sophisticated Ways: Destruction of an Ancient City A joint exhibition of work by Hanaa Malallah and Rashad Selim at Aya Gallery, London, addressing the destruction of Baghdad. http://www.ayagallery.co.uk/4666.html
Open Shutters Iraq This project presented photo-stories created by Iraqi women in collaboration with photographer Eugenie Dolberg, in which they explored how the war had affected their lives, the places where they lived and their newly-constrained experiences of space. Open Shutters Iraq was exhibited on Queens Walk on London’s South Bank in 2007 and again at the Gold Thread Gallery in Belfast in 2012. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7022167.stm
Iraq War Memorial featuring the Death of Prince Harry, Martyr of Maysan Province A work by New York-based artist Daniel Edwards ‘honoring those willing but unable to serve in the Iraq conflict’, comprising a resin statue of a dead Harry lying on a plinth, with vulture, red flowers and a Union flag backdrop. The work was made after Harry was prevented from deploying to Iraq following what were described as ‘specific threats’ against him. Exhibited at the Bridge Art Fair in the Trafalgar Hotel. http://www.caplakesting.com/danedwards/harry.htm
Green Zone/Red Zone Taking place at Gemak in Den Haag, this exhibition included work by Hanaa Malallah, kennardphillipps, Open Shutters Iraq and Rashad Selim, who was also artist-in-residence for the programme and who performed a number of street interventions using graffiti and a road sign constructed for this purpose. http://issuu.com/robertk1/docs/borders_single_pages_lo-res1
Riding on Fire: Iraqi Art Under Occupation This exhibition at Artiquea in London showed work by Iraqi artists living in Iraq, including Nijm Alqaisy, Ali Rassan, Sattar Darwish and Qassem Sabti. As the gallery described, “Despite the hurdles and hazards, these artists managed to remain creatively active and engaged in a very hostile environment and produced a stunning array of work”. http://www.artiquea.co.uk/page.html?id=4
Iraq’s Past Speaks to the Present From late 2008 to early 2009 the British Museum ran a major exhibition entitled Babylon: Myth and Reality that explored the role played by Babylon in cultural imaginations and the historical evidence uncovered by archaeological work. Alongside this ran a smaller, complementary exhibition of contemporary artists, ten from Iraq and one from Syria (including Dia Azzawi, Hanaa Malallah, Walid Siti and Satta Hashem), who were working with the cultural heritages of Mesopotamia and responding to current events. http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/galleries/middle_east/room_34_the_islamic_world/iraq%E2%80%99s_past.aspx
Fourth Plinth In 2008 a Commission charged with shortlisting artists and selecting works to be installed on the vacant ‘Fourth Plinth’ in London’s Trafalgar Square invited Jeremy Deller to submit a proposal. He suggested two works, one of which was to be the remains of a bombed out car taken from Iraq entitled Spoils of War (Memorial for an Unknown Civilian), the other a life-like sculpture of Dr David Kelly, the UK government scientist who had been a weapons inspector in Iraq and who died in 2003 following exposure of his contacts with journalists. Neither was selected for display. http://www.jeremydeller.org/plinth/plinth_menu.htm
Small/Medium/Large Man/Woman/Child In response to a commission from Safle/National Eisteddfod of Wales, Rabab Gazhoul asked members of the public to research places in Iraq and to write about their experience of doing the research. She reproduced extracts from their text on t-shirts with an “I heart” design, followed by the names of Iraqi cities. http://www.axisweb.org/seCVWK.aspx?ARTISTID=14080
Brighton Photo Biennial The ongoing occupation of Iraq formed a key context and focus for BPB 2008, curated by Julian Stallabrass. It included Iraq through the lens of Vietnam, whichshowed images taken from all sides in both conflicts and reflected on their dissemination and use, The Sublime Image of Destruction, which included photos taken in Iraq and installations of Why Mister Why? and Baghdad Calling by Geert van Kesteren. The Biennial also showed The Incommensurable Banner by Thomas Hirschorn, a work that reproduced numerous images of bodies destroyed by weaponry in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East on a sheet, suspended in the Fabrica gallery. The work was shielded behind a screen, which visitors had to circumvent in order to see the work, having been warned by posters of the nature of the exhibit. http://2008.bpb.org.uk/2008/exhibitions/ http://www.artrabbit.com/uk/events/event&event=6310
Mass was a performance work made by Anne Bean with local women in Iraqi Kurdistan with support from Adalet Garmiany and ArtRole. http://www.annebean.net/past-projects/2001-2010/54
Casting a Dark Democracy was an exhibition by sculptor Tim Shaw, which had as its centrepiece a monumental sculpture of the hooded figure from Abu Ghraib installed in a dark room filled with smoky haze and oppressive noise, facing a reflective pool of oil in the middle of a sandy floor. http://www.timshawsculptor.com/democracy.htm
Black Words Red Ink A calligraphic installation by Mustafa Ja’far shown at the Menier Gallery in London, which recalled and explored the artist’s experience of the war since 2003. http://www.incia.co.uk/4775.html
A Process of Resistance An exhibition of work made by kennardphillipps against the Iraq War, shown at Ink’d in Brighton. http://www.kennardphillipps.com/iraq-a-process-of-resistance/
Reel Iraq was the first in the series of Reel Festivals, which aim to spread awareness of areas in conflict beyond the headlines, to empower cultural figures, encourage engagement with the arts and international issues and encourage dialogue. The festival was based in Edinburgh and brought film makers, writers, artists, lecturers and musicians from or working on Iraq together as part of an extensive programme, which focused on film but included music and the exhibition of works by artists including Wafa Bilal, Adalet Garmiany, Hana Malallah and Rashad Selim. http://www.reelfestivals.org/previous-festivals/
Conflicts of Interest Part of the National Army Museum, Conflicts of Interest is a new gallery examining Britain’s role in conflicts worldwide since 1969, including the Iraq wars of 1990-1991 and 2003-2009. The Iraq displays include art works (including paintings by John Keane), artifacts from Iraq (including a portrait of Saddam Hussein and a Darth Vader-style Fedayeen helmet) and military equipment, contemporary media coverage, audio testimony by soldiers and Iraqis and background information on the role of British forces.http://www.nam.ac.uk/exhibitions/online-exhibitions/conflicts-interest/gulf http://www.nam.ac.uk/exhibitions/online-exhibitions/conflicts-interest/iraq
Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East This exhibition at Saatchi Gallery in London included two Iraqi artists, Ahmed Alsoudani and Halim Al-Karim, whose work explores Iraq’s violent political history and more recent events. http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/artists/unveiled/
More paintings about war and religion An exhibition of paintings by John Keane at Flowers East, London, with works addressing the violence of the war in Iraq and the war on terror. http://www.johnkeaneart.com/intelligent.html
20:50 Following visits to Iraqi Kurdistan with ArtRole and artist Adalet Garmiany, sculptor Richard Wilson recreated his work 20:50 (a version of which has been permanently exhibited in Saatchi Galleries since 1991), comprised of a room full of engine oil contained in a metal enclosure, forming a dark reflecting pool, in the former “Red Jail”, now an arts centre, in Sulaymaniyah.
War Veteran Vehicle Exhibited in public spaces in London as part of the Abandon Normal Devices festival, Krzysztof Wodiczko, War Veteran Vehicle was a text based video projection, accompanied by an audio recording, mounted on an adapted Humvee. The work, completed in collaboration with the charity Combat Stress, projected text taken from interviews with veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, in which they described their experiences of returning to civilian life, onto the sides of buildings, accompanied by the sound of machine gun fire. http://www.artplayer.tv/video/39/war-veteran-vehicle-krzysztof-wodiczko
The Nature of the Beast A project by Goshka Macuga undertaken for The Bloomberg Commission at Whitechapel Gallery, The Nature of the Beast involved the display of a tapestry of Pablo Picasso’s work Guernica, which had been shown at the gallery in 1939 to raise funds for the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War. The work also referenced an episode outside the UN Security Council chamber in 2003, when the Guernica tapestry that hung outside was covered by a blue curtain prior to a press conference by Colin Powell, following his notorious speech asserting the threat posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. As well as the tapestry, the space included a round discussion table and a bust of Powell holding a test tube, based on a scene from his presentation. The space was made available to groups to hold their own discussions there. http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/exhibitions/the-bloomberg-commission-goshka-macuga-the-nature-of-the-beast
Re-piano An ongoing work by Rashad Selim in which a old pianos, recalling the destroyed instruments shown in photographs from the war, are renovated, adapted and used in a variety of ways. One work, the Geo-piano, has been adapted to play scales from musical systems around the world. http://www.janetradyfineart.com/html/artistresults.asp?artist=111
Boats and Burdens: Kites and Shattered Dreams An exhibition at Aya Gallery of paintings and ceramics by Maysaloun Faraj, dedicated to women of Iraq in the past, present and future.
Frontlines: Images from Iraq An exhibition at Frost and Reed gallery, London of work by Arabella Dorman, based on time spent embedded with British forces in Iraq.
The invisible enemy should not exist (recovered, missing, stolen series) is a work created by Chicago-based artist Michael Rakowitz in 2007 that was exhibited as part of Transmission Interrupted at Modern Art Oxford in 2009. The work recreated artefacts from the Iraqi National Museum (which was looted after the invasion) using newspapers and food packaging. According to the artist, the title of the work is a direct translation of the name of the processional way that led through the Ishtar Gate, excavated and removed to Berlin in the early twentieth century and later rebuilt by the Iraqi government. http://michaelrakowitz.com/projects/the-invisible-enemy-should-not-exist/ http://www.modernartoxford.org.uk/whats-on/transmission-interrupted/additional-resources/
Contemporary Art Iraq This show at the Cornerhouse in Manchester was described as “The first comprehensive UK exhibition of new and recent contemporary art from Iraq since the first Gulf War, examining practices that are emerging with fresh perspectives from a culture marked by conflict and turmoil.” The exhibition showed work by 19 artists based in Iraq, many from Iraqi Kurdistan, in collaboration with ArtRole, an organisation seeking to build links between the UK and Iraq via arts development. ArtRole has also organised exhibitions involving UK-based artists in Iraqi Kurdistan. http://www.cornerhouse.org/art/art-exhibitions/contemporary-art-iraq
Display of ‘Baghdad Car’ at the Imperial War Museum London, Imperial War Museum North, Manchester and Hayward Gallery, London In September 2010 the remains of a car destroyed in a suicide truck bombing of the al-Mutanabbi Street book market in Baghdad went on display in the atrium of the Imperial War Museum London. http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2010/sep/09/jeremy-deller-baghdad-car-bomb Though the IWM insisted the wreck was not an art work, it had been accepted into the IWM collection on the initiative of the Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, who had used it in a project and series of linked exhibitions in the US. Deller’s name also appeared on the plinth on which it was displayed and though he also insisted that it was not an art work, it has often been regarded as one. The exhibit was also included in a mid-career retrospective of Deller’s career at the Hayward Gallery in 2012. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/reviews/jeremy-deller-joy-in-people-hayward-gallery-london-7440761.html Repeating an approach used with the car in the US, Deller invited people from Iraq, people with Iraq-related expertise and people who had been to the country to appear with the car and engage visitors in discussion. The car then returned to go on display at the Imperial Museum North in Salford.
The worst condition is to pass under a sword which is not one’s own Exhibited at Tate Modern’s Level 2 Gallery, this project by Michael Rakowitz explored “links between western science fiction and military-industrial activities in Iraq during and after Saddam Hussein’s regime.” http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/level-2-gallery-michael-rakowitz The exhibition included a display comparing a Fedayeen helmet with those of Samurai and Darth Vader.
A Short Film About War is “a narrative documentary artwork” made entirely from material found online, which was shown as an installation as part of the MyWar exhibition at FACT in Liverpool. Taking the form of a two-channel video with audio track, the work begins with a soldier about to be deployed to Iraq, touches down in Iraq in the middle of the war, and ends as it started. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/slade/slide/docs/warfilm.html
Behind the Lines in Basra Exhibition of work by Xavier Pick based on time spent with British forces in Basra in the run up to their withdrawal. http://www.drawing-research-network.org.uk/xavier-pick-solo-show/
Chilcot kennardphillips created work to coincide with Tony Blair’s second appearance at the Chilcot Inquiry into the war in January 2011, comprising a projected street intervention with Beverley Carpenter and Rob Birtch (http://www.kennardphillipps.com/tag/chilcot/) and a large photomontage with which they protested outside the inquiry building. http://www.kennardphillipps.com/tag/chilcott/
War is Over In this work the photographer Hydar Dewachi marked the withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq with a photo-essay commemorating the 2003 anti-war protests in London. http://www.dewachi.com/war-is-over/
New Art from Iraq was presented by The Young Mesopotamians (an initiative aiming to connect contemporary Iraqi artists with teachers and students in Iraq) with at 30 St. Mary’s Axe (better known as The Gherkin) on 11th July 2011 and showed works by Nedim Kufi, Sadik Kwaish Alfraji and Hanaa Malallah.
Shadow Sites II This film work by Jananne Al-Ani explores the role abstracted aerial images of the landscape have played in the representation of the Middle East. Though only the ‘Desert Storm’, 1990-1991 war is referenced directly, the work clearly also relates to other conflicts, including the most recent war. http://edgeofarabia.com/artists/jananne-al-ani
Elegy to my Trapped City This large mural by London-based Dia Al-Azzawi represents the post-2003 destruction of Iraq. The work, which echoes Azzawi’s Sabra and Shatila (1982-3) and Picasso’s Guernica, was first exhibited at Meem Gallery in Dubai and went on display again in 2012, shortly after Sabra and Shatila was acquired and exhibited by Tate Modern. http://www.artnet.com/artwork/426226941/425216710/dia-azzawi-elegy-to-my-trapped-city.html
2Years2Wars An exhibition at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire of work made by serving soldier Douglas Farthing based on his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. www.douglasfarthingart.co.uk/images/2years2wars.pdf
Iraq: When, Where, For Whom? This collaborative exhibition at Mosaic Rooms in London brought together work by Hanaa Malallah and kennardphillipps that responded to the Iraq war, questioning the claims on which it was based. http://www.mosaicrooms.org/iraq-how-where-for-whom/
Drawn to Danger This exhibition at the Snibston Museum in Leicestershire presented the work of five war artists (Matthew Cook, Arabella Dorman, Douglas Farthing, Jules George and Steve Pratt) all connected with the British armed forces. Though the exhibition focused on Afghanistan, three of the artists (Cook, Dorman and Farthing) had also visited and made work about Iraq. http://www.eastmidlandsrfca.co.uk/news/rfca/2012/may/drawn-danger-art-exhibition-snibston-discovery-museum-offers-discount-admission
Black Rain Works from Yousif Naser’s series of paintings were presented at the Iraqi Cultural Centre in London in September 2012.