Exhibition01.06.201324.11.2013
INTERNATIONAL
PAST EXHIBITION

Welcome to Iraq – Venice Biennale 2013

Exhibition01.06.201324.11.2013
INTERNATIONAL
PAST EXHIBITION

Welcome to Iraq – Venice Biennale 2013

Ca’ Dandolo, Grand Canal, Venice

Ikon’s Director, Jonathan Watkins, has been appointed as curator of the Iraq Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale. Following studio visits across Iraq, Watkins has selected eleven contemporary artists to participate in the exhibition, all of whom live and work in the country. The pavilion, Welcome to Iraq, includes work by cartoonist Abdul Raheem Yassir who uses deadpan humour to address social and political chaos and corruption; Jamal Penjweny, from Sulaymaniyah, who shows a series of photographs entitled Saddam is Here featuring Iraqis in everyday places holding a portrait of the former dictator over their own faces; and Cheeman Ismaeel, one of two female artists selected, who personalises household objects through ornate decoration. Welcome to Iraq was commissioned by the Ruya Foundation for Contemporary Culture in Iraq (RUYA).  www.theiraqpavilion.com/blog

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Saddam is Here
Jamal Penjweny
Ikon presents the first solo exhibition of Jamal Penjweny, including photography and video works reflecting on life in Iraq today. Born in Sulaimaniya, Iraqi Kurdistan, in 1981, Penjweny started his artistic career as a sculptor and painter, moving into photography whilst supporting himself by working as a shepherd and, latterly, a café proprietor. His work has been the subject of international attention following its inclusion in Welcome to Iraq, the Iraqi pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale, curated by Ikon Director Jonathan Watkins.Key to this exhibition is the photographic series Saddam is Here (2009–2010), consisting of twelve images of Iraqi people in familiar surroundings, each holding a life-size picture of Saddam Hussein’s face in front of their own. Saddam’s likeness becomes a mask obscuring any expression of emotion, any gaze, or possibility of sure identification and individuality. It is ludicrous, hilarious and at the same time absolutely ominous, pointing up the insidious influence of a dictator. Of the work, Penjweny has said “Saddam is here. Iraqi society cannot forget him even after his death because some of us still love him and the rest are still afraid of him … His shadow is still following Iraqi society everywhere.”

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