Bagdad mon amour
From March 29th to July 29th, 2018, Institut des Cultures d’Islam presents the Baghdad mon amour exhibition.
The exhibition Bagdad mon amour is a reflection on the artistic strategies for the re-invention of the Iraqi cultural heritage ravaged by decades of wars. Predominantly from Iraq, the artists gathered here are trying to overcome the looting and destruction of museums and archeological sites, from Baghdad to Mosul. These phenomena, which already happened under Sadam Hussein, became systematic since the 2000’s following the second Gulf war conducted by the United States and their allies, and more recently with the cultural massacres carried out by the Islamic State terrorist group.
By revealing these artists’ protective impulse, which expresses in various forms of allegory, parody, archeology or montage, Bagdad mon amour conveys the utopian idea of a “museum without walls” in order to confront the Iraqi catastrophe. Far away from nostalgia, a constellation of modern and contemporary art pieces, of archives and nomadic signs, celebrate a surviving visual culture which resists obliteration. The growing anxiety generated by ghost-objects, disappeared from the museums, gives way to the collective imagination, in order to sketch a possible renaissance of Bagdad, between gestures of preservation and re-invention.
The exhibition also shows the links existing between the “warning” artists or “archeologist” artists of the present, and the generation of the Bagdad Modern Art Group. As early as the fifties, and led in particular by Jewad Selim, they committed themselves to the reinvention of a cultural heritage that questioned the notion of “national heritage”. They had found refuge at the Bagdad Archeology Museum – largely ransacked in 2003 – to be inspired by Islamic, Sumerian and Assyrian antiquities.
They represented the post-independence project of a new nation before a contemporary era, haunted mostly by phantom-objects and contraband collections. Constructed on this concept, the exhibition assembles works of art based on the notions of inventory, reconstitution, the study of monuments and documents : anxious works of art ready to imagine the next “Renaissance” of Bagdad.
Back to the past exhibitions