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The Iraqi Equation (II)

Venue: International University of Andalusia (UNIA). Monasterio de Santa María de las Cuevas, Av. Américo Vespucio 2. Isla de la Cartuja (Sevilla)
Date: 28th >> 30th June 2006
Direction: Catherine David
Participants: Khaled Al-Maaly, Xavier Antich, Sinan Antoon, Dahr Jamail, Scheherazade Qassim Hassan, Loretta Napoleoni




 Plaza Tahrir, Bagdad, 1960. Latif Al-Ani. Colección Latif Al-Ani. Cortesía de Arab Image FoundationContemporary Arab Representations is a long-term project which includes presentations of works by authors from different disciplines (visual arts, architecture, literature, thought, film), seminars, performances and publications. The aim is to enable production, circulation and exchanges between the different cultural centres in the Arab world and the rest of the world. The project looks at the complex dimensions of aesthetics in relation to social and political situations to acquire a more precise knowledge of what is happening now in various areas of the Arab world. If the first and second parts focused on Beirut/Lebanon and Cairo/Egypt respectively, this third stage of the project turns its attention to Iraq.

Since the Gulf War and the invasion and occupation of the country, the images and incomplete news that reach us from Iraq through the mass media have to a large extent simplified and distorted representations and information about what is an extremely complex political, cultural and social situation. Contemporary Arab Representations. The Iraqi Equation does not propose an “exhibition” of modern or contemporary Iraqi art; rather, it provides a platform for information, meeting and debate open to artists, film-makers, authors, analysts and activists able to throw some light on the historic, political, social and cultural context that has led to the present situation and to suggest possible ways out of the nightmare that is everyday life for the Iraqi people today. The aim is, then, to put events, images and ideas into perspective to step back from the immediate horizon of destruction, confusion and chaos, a situation deliberately maintained to the benefit of a few, and to gather testimonies and actions enabling us to make an inventory of a complex cultural inheritance and to encourage possible projects with Iraqis, both inside the country and elsewhere.

Contemporary Arab Representations. The Iraqi Equation began with a conference at the Universidad Internacional de Andalucía-UNIA artandthinking (November 14 - 16, 2005). The project continued as platform for the presentation of documentary films and videos, feature films, video portraits, photographic archive materials, books and magazines, live satellite TV transmissions, artistic interventions and other live activities such as literature readings, lectures and debates. This new phase of the project was on exhibition at KW Institute of Contemporary Art Berlin (December 18, 2005 – February 26, 2006), and continued with a showing at the la Fundación Antoni Tàpies (April 27 – June 25, 2006) which included new elements, and it will be presented once more at the Universidad Internacional de Andalucía-UNIA artandthinking with a selection of recent films and videos documents different aspects of the situation in Iraq, and the reactions and opinions of Iraqis from different social groups: “returns to Baghdad” filmed by Iraqis who had left the country in the more or less recent past (Sinan Antoon, Maysoon Pachachi, Baz Shamoun); and Hana Al-Bayaty’s film of the latest meeting of the Iraqi opposition in exile in London in 2003, three weeks before the war began.

This new presentation is complemented with a series of analysis offered by the following authors: Sinan Antoon, who will talk about the current political-cultural situation in Iraq; Dahr Jamail, who will present the website which features his experience as a independent journalist in Iraq and analyse the role of the alternative press in how the information about what is happening in the country is reported and analysed; and Loretta Napoleoni, who will analyse the profile of Al-Zarqawi in the context of the war and the occupation. The programme also includes a talk supported by audio material given by ethnomusicologist and expert on Iraqi traditional music Scheherazade Qassim Hassan, and the reading of poems by Khaled Al-Maaly.

Contemporary Arab Representations. The Iraqi Equation has been produced in association with the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, and has been made possible thanks to support from the German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes) and the Spanish Ministry of Culture.



Wednesday, 28th June 2006

· 20:30 h.
Presentation by Catherine David

· 21:00 h.
Film screenings:

On Democracy in Iraq, Hana Al-Bayaty. UK | 2003 | 52 min- On Democracy in Iraq by Hana Al-Bayaty. Documentary, UK, 2003, 52 min.

An insight into a meeting of representatives of the major currents of the Iraqi opposition which took place in London three weeks before the US invasion to Iraq. Her film On Democracy in Iraq was screened as part of the BRussells Tribunal's cultural programme.

Hana Al-Bayaty is a film-maker and journalist. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal, a commission of inquiry that investigated the crimes committed by the occupation after the invasion of Iraq. She is based in Cairo.

Return to the Land of Wonders, Maysoon Pachachi. Iraq / Uk | 2004 | 88 min © Maysoon Pachachi- Return to the Land of Wonders by Maysoon Pachachi. Documentary, Iraq / UK, 2004, 88 min.

Maysoon Pachachi accompanies her father, who has returned to Baghdad to head a committee drafting a temporary constitution and Bill of Rights. She follows this tortuous process, with its arguments over changes in wording demanded by Washington or compromises to satisfy sectarian interests. Moving between the political sphere and everyday life on the streets, this film enables one to glimpse the resilience of Iraqis. Courtesy of Arab Film Distribution, USA.

Maysoon Pachachi is a documentary film-maker. She teaches film and video directing and editing in Jerusalem and Gaza. She lives in London.

Thursday, 29th June 2006

· 21:00 h.
Film screenings:

About Baghdad, Sinan Antoon, Bassam Haddad, Maya Mikdashi, Suzy Salamy and Adam Shapiro. Iraq / EUA | 2004 | 90 min- About Baghdad by Sinan Antoon in collaboration with Bassam Haddad, Maya Mikdashi, Suzy Salamy and Adam Shapiro. Documentary, Iraq / USA, 2004, 90 min.

In July 2003, Sinan Antoon, an exiled Iraqi writer and poet, returned to Baghdad to see what has become of his city after wars, sanctions, decades of oppression and violence, and now occupation. Antoon takes us on a journey exploring what Iraqis think and feel about the post-war situation and the complex relationship between the US and Iraq. Courtesy of Arab Film Distribution, USA.

- Where is Iraq? by Baz Shamoun. Documentary, Jordan / Canada, 2004, 17 min.

Where is Iraq?, Baz Shamoun. Jordania / Canada | 2004 | 17 minSeventy-five days before the U.S. Army captured Saddam Hussein, Iraqi-Canadian filmmaker Baz Shamoun tried to re-enter his homeland after 27 years of forced exile. In Jordan, he met other Iraqis who are no longer able to cross the border: workers without jobs, truckers, cab drivers and anxious refugees. Worn down by years of war, sanctions, arbitrary arrests, torture and fear of execution, the men angrily recall the darkest years of the fallen regime. Courtesy of Arab Film Distribution, USA.

Baz Shamoun studied television and film at the Universitas Carolina in Prague. He lives in Canada.

Friday, 30th June 2006

· 10:30 h.
Lecture by Sinan Antoon:
Debris and diaspora: Iraqi Culture Now

· 12:00 h.
Lecture by Loretta Napoleoni:
Al Zarqawi, history and mythology of a Jordanian proletarian

· 13:30 h.
Lecture by Dahr Jamail:
Everyday Life in Occupied Iraq; Future U.S. plans in the Middle East

· 17:00 h.
Conversation between Catherine David and Xavier Antich

· 18:30 h.
Lecture – musical performance by Scheherazade Qassim Hassan:
The urban art music repertoire of Baghdad

· 20:00 h.
Poetry readings by Khaled Al-Maaly

* All presentations and projections will have simultaneous interpretation and will be open to the public.



Khaled Al-Maly is an Iraqi poet who has lived in Köln, Germany, since 1980, where he established a successful publishing house, Al-Kamel Verlag. Seven collections of his poetry have been published, and some in German as well as Arabic. He has translated the poets Al-Sayab, Adonis, Mahmoud Darwish, Sargon Boulus, Saadi Youssef and Unsi Al-Hajj into German.

Xavier Antich a Doctor of Philosophy, teaches Aesthetics, and is the director of the Master’s Degree course in Communications and Art Criticism at the University of Girona. For the past three years, he has been co-director of the Art Criticism Workshop at the Macba in Barcelona and nowadays he coordinates the Macba´s Independent Studies Program. He won the Joan Fuster Essay Award with his book El rostre de l’altre. Passeig filosòfic per l’obra d’Emmanuel Lévinas (Valencia, Editorial 3 i 4). He has published a book on Aristotle’s metaphysics, translations of Merleau-Ponty, Lévinas, Franco Rella and Chantal Mouffe, and more than sixty articles on contemporary aesthetic issues in specialised magazines. He has also written texts for the catalogues of artists like Antoni Tàpies, Antoni Llena, Àngel Jové, Pep Agut, Domènec and Aureli Ruiz. He is a regular contributor to the Culture section and the supplement “Cultura/s” of the La Vanguardia daily newspaper, and is a member of its editorial board.

Sinan Antoon is a poet, novelist and translator. He studied English literature at Baghdad University before moving to the United States after the 1991 Gulf War. He pursued his graduate studies at Georgetown and Harvard, where he is a PhD candidate in Arabic literature. He is also an assistant professor in Arabic Culture at New York University. His poems and articles have been published in An-Nahar, As-Safir, Masharef, Al-Adab, The Nation, Middle East Report, Al- Ahram Weekly, Banipal and the Journal of Palestine Studies as well as in the anthology Iraqi Poetry Today (London, 2003). His books include A Prism; Wet with Wars (Cairo, 2003) and I`jam (Beirut, 2004). Sinan Antoon is currently living in New York.

Catherine David studied Linguistics, Literature and History of Art at the Université de la Sorbonne and École du Louvre in Paris. From 1982 to 1990 she was curator at the Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, and from 1990 to 1994 she was Curator at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, both in Paris, where she organized several solo and group exhibitions including: Reinhard Mucha, Passages de l’image; Stan Douglas: Monodramas and Television Spots; Marcel Broodthaers; Hélio Oiticica; Eva Hesse; Jeff Wall and Chantal Ackerman: D’Est, among others. From 1994 to 1997 she served as Artistic Director for documenta X in Kassel, Germany, and from 1998 has been Director of the long-term project Contemporary Arab Representations which began at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona. In 2000 she organized The State of Things for the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin. Between 2002 and 2004 David was Director of the Witte de With Rotterdam in the Netherlands. She is currently a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin.

Dahr Jamail is one of only a few independent U.S. reporters to have covered the occupation of Iraq, has spent over 8 months reporting from inside Iraq. He is now writing for the Inter Press Service, The Asia Times, and many other outlets. His reports have also been published with The Nation, The Sunday Herald, Islam Online, The Guardian and The Independent to name just a few. Dahr's dispatches and hard news stories have been translated into French, Polish, German, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic and Turkish. On radio as well as television, Dahr reports for Democracy Now!, the BBC, and numerous other stations around the globe. Dahr is also special correspondent for Flashpoints Radio.

Scheherazade Qassim Hassan is an Iraqi Ethnomusicologist trained in Ethnology and Islamic Sociology. She is a specialist in music from the Middle East. She founded and directed the first Centre for Traditional Music in Baghdad and created a sound archive based on extensive fieldwork in the country. She taught at the University of Baghdad and in France at the Université Paris Nanterre. She is currently an associate member of the laboratory of Ethnomusicology attached to the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) and chairs the study group for the music from the Arab world within the International Council for traditional music. She has published books and articles in French, English and Arabic.

Loretta Napoleoni was a Fulbright scholar at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studiesin Washington, D.C. and a Rotary Scholar at the London School of Economics. As an economist, she worked for several banks and international organizations in Europe and the US. Napoleoni is also a journalist and has worked as a foreign correspondent for several Italian financial papers. She lectures regularly on the financing of terrorism. As Chairman of the countering terrorism financing group for the Club de Madrid, Loretta Napoleoni brought heads of state from around the world together to create a new strategy for combating the financing of terror networks. Her novel, Dossier Baghdad (Rome, 1997), is a financial thriller set during the Gulf War. She is the author of Terror Inc. (London, 2004) and Insurgent Iraq (New York, 2005).

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