Over my Eyes: Stories of Iraq
The exhibition offers an unfamiliar perspective of Iraq through the eyes of a generation of young local photographers. The work of these photographers forms a unique and previously unseen view of Iraq and captures the fragmented picture of contemporary life across the country: from the vastness of the mountainous northern borderlands, to a multiplicity of scenes across the country, with the fading flashbacks of its recent history and the effects of the ongoing conflict.
In today’s almost totally globalised world we tend to assume we can always gain a deep and accurate understanding of the everyday situations facing people all over the world. This belief largely stems from the nature of the photographic medium – the most democratic and pluralistic visual language there is – and the astonishing multitude of images that surround us. We really believe we know the truth and have all the information available – that our Western perspective gives us all we need to know about the lives of "others".
Yet what is the typical imagery we see of Iraq? War, violence, militias, humanitarian crises, refugee camps – these are the images fed to us by the media and through which we "know" this Middle Eastern country that until very recently was trapped in a conflict whose effects have reached far beyond its borders. Have we ever asked ourselves whether these images give a true impression, or whether perhaps this impression has been artificially constructed?
The OVER MY EYES exhibition offers an unfamiliar perspective of Iraq through the eyes of a generation of young local photographers – Aram Karim, Bnar Sardar, Hawre Khalid, Seivan M. Salim, Rawsht Twana and Ali Arkady – and from the photographic archive of Twana Abdullah, whose work spans the period from 1974 to 1992. It has been brought to life thanks to the vision of Stefano Carini and Dario Bosio, two Italian photographers who lived and worked in Iraq. The work of these photographers forms a unique and previously unseen view of Iraq and captures the fragmented picture of contemporary life across the country: from the vastness of the mountainous northern borderlands, to a multiplicity of scenes across the country, with the fading flashbacks of its recent history and the effects of the ongoing conflict. With their unprecedented access to, and knowledge of, the local environment, the photographers bring us closer to the land and its people, their stories, and a life that goes on in spite of war. Their main focus is the home region of the Iraqi photographers: the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
The title of the exhibition, OVER MY EYES, is a literal translation of the Kurdish Ser Chaw and the Arabic Ala 3iny, which both mean "You are welcome" (literally: I welcome you by laying you "over my eyes"). The aim is not to impose an alternative dogmatic view of the country to displace the existing one, but to inspire a discussion about the ways we produce and consume imagery and information; to create a debate about the way we observe the world; and to highlight the need to embrace alternative perceptions in order to widen our understanding of the complexity of human existence.
The exhibition, which was first presented at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague in late 2017, is now being staged by the Jakopič Gallery, in association with the DARST Nomadic Art Studio for Documentary Projects and the Italian Cultural Institute. An accompanying exhibition at the Italian Cultural Institute – The Woman, the Moon, the Snake. Seventeen Months in Iraq – features images of Iraq by Stefano Carini, photographer, photo editor and originator of the Over My Eyes project.
Production: Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana
Co-production: DARST, DOX, Centre for Contemporary Art Prague
Photographers: Twana Abdullah, Ali Arkady, Dario Bosio, Aram Karim, Hawre Khalid, Seivan M. Salim, Bnar Sardar, Rawsht Twana
Concept development: Stefano Carini (DARST), Michaela Šilpochová and Leoš Válka (DOX, Centre for Contemporary Art Prague)
Curators: Stefano Carini, Dario Bosio (DARST)
Expert support: Marija Skočir, Julija Hoda (MGML)
Graphic and exhibition design: Dan Korčák (DOX), Bojan Lazarevič (Agora Proars)
Exhibition production: Technical Service MGML, O.K.vir
The project was made possible by: City of Ljubljana, Italian Cultural Institute, Embassy of France in Croatia, Živi Atelje DK
Media sponsor: TAM-TAM
1 January, 1 November, 25 December: Closed
24 and 31 December: 10:00–14:00
Adults: 3 €
Students, people over the age of 60, unemployed, people with disabilities: 2 €
Family ticket: 7 €
ICOM, PRESS, SMD, students of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design; VIST – Higher School of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering – OTGO: Admission free
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