The Iraqi artists who objected to their works being proven on the twelfth Berlin Biennale now say they plan to withdraw their works from the exhibition. In an open letter, the artists Sajjad Abbas, Raed Mutar and Layth Kareem spoke out in opposition to their work being proven on the Hamburger Bahnhof the place images by the French artist Jean-Jacques Lebel, exhibiting tortured inmates at Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq, had been additionally on show.
The curator Rijin Sahakian wrote in ArtForum 29 July: “The Biennale made the choice to commodify pictures of unlawfully imprisoned and brutalised Iraqi our bodies beneath occupation, displaying them with out the consent of the victims and with none enter from the Biennale’s collaborating Iraqi artists, whose work was adjacently put in with out their data.”
The Biennale’s chief curator Kader Attia and his staff printed a prolonged assertion on ArtForum in response (15 August), saying: “We don’t deny our accountability. We humbly ask you to please grant us your consideration for our response to the essential questions of exhibiting wounds and restore, to ensure our curatorial intentions and the aspirations of our exhibition aren’t misrepresented.”
However in an announcement added 16 August to the identical ArtForum article, Sahakian says: “In an exhibition that prioritises the show of wrongly imprisoned Iraqis photographed within the act of being sexually and bodily tortured, no, we don’t discover sincerity or transparency on this paternalistic response… We now have withdrawn from the Berlin Biennale and admire the practically 400 who’ve added their signatures in solidarity [to the letter].” Abbas tells The Artwork Newspaper that the artists had notified the Biennale curators of their intention to take away their works; a spokesperson for the Biennale additionally confirmed their resolution.
Lebel has enlarged pictures of tortured prisoners on the Abu Ghraib jail that had been taken by US troopers and leaked in 2004, a yr after the US-led invasion of Iraq, for his labyrinth-like set up entitled Poison Soluble (2013). In an announcement on the Biennale web site, Lebel says he has “printed and enlarged the color snapshots taken by the torturers, interspersing them with black-and-white press pictures of Iraqi cities devastated or fully obliterated by the US Air Power”.
Mutar’s and Abbas’s works had been initially relocated to totally different venues (Akademie der Künste Pariser Platz and KW Institute for Up to date Artwork) whereas Kareem’s work is offered in a video cupboard in a unique room of the Hamburger Bahnhof. Attia additionally toldThe Artwork Newspaper: “The Biennale staff and I’ve been in dialogue with the artists from the second they expressed their considerations. As quickly as they instructed us they had been sad with the place of their work, we reacted and began to search for options.” Artists who signed the open letter embrace Ali Cherri and Michael Rakowitz.