The 2017 Venice Biennale opens this May and the Iraq pavilion is featuring an interesting exhibition of archaic and modern art. The title for this year’s Iraq pavilion is “Archaic” and features includes artifacts dating back over 7,000 years. These pieces are originally from the National Museum of Iraq which was looted after the US troop invasion of 2003. The museum remained closed until 2015, and the artifacts in the pavilion will be seen for the first time since they have been returned. The museum reopened in 2015 in response to terrorism and a way for Iraq to regain control over the protection of their culture and heritage.
In conjunction with the pieces from the National Museum of Iraq, there will also be pieces from contemporary artists Francis Alÿs, Sherko Abbas, Sadik Kwaish Alfraji and Ali Arkady. The Ruya Foundation that is sponsoring the pavilion described the selection of these artists and their pieces because of the contrast they would provide to the older pieces.
“Many artists working in Iraq today continue to abide by an orthodox aesthetic tradition that has been limited by mid-century education trends and the lack of cultural exchange in Iraq in recent decades. All of the Ruya Foundation’s work seeks to nurture and promote artists who move beyond these paradigms and as such installation, video and photography will be represented alongside more traditional media such as painting and sculpture.”
Francis Alÿs will be featured in the show, and is known for his videos and installation work such as The Green Line. The pavilion focuses on the way that Iraqi artists both connect with their heritage and respond to the current political climate of their country. The artifacts act as a signifier to universal themes present in every society, and the way that artists are creating work that can survive through war.
Here are some links with more info on the Pavilion: