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Iraqi Artists Are Back on the World Stage

Jamal Penjweny grew up with war, having been born in Iraqi Kurdistan in the early 1980s.

The photographs in his series “Saddam Is Here” show the psychological toll that conflict and dictatorship can take, even years after the fact. In his images, Iraqis in their everyday environments hide their faces behind a picture of Saddam Hussein, a nod to the long-gone dictator’s lingering presence in Iraqi society.

The theme of everyday life being lived despite extraordinary circumstances links Penjweny’s series and the works of ten other artists participating in the exhibit“Welcome to Iraq” at the 55th Venice Biennale.

The Biennale is one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious international art fairs—88 countries are hosting national pavilions this year. But “Welcome to Iraq” marks the first time in over three decades that artists living and working in Iraq are being represented. (2011 saw an exhibit by Iraqi artists in exile.) The pieces that follow will all be on display through November as part of “Welcome to Iraq” at the Biennale’s Iraq Pavilion.

sonjalandis.com
Meet Sonja Landis
Artist. Author. Designer. Comedian. Mom. Teller of Stories, Laugher of Jokes, Drinker of Cocktails, Lover of Carbs, Loser of Keys. Professionally Unprofessional.

Best-selling comedy writer Sonja Landis has released her second solo book, “The Anti-Officer: The True Story of a Chick Turned Airborne Reconnaissance…And Why It Was All a Really Bad Idea”.  Landis’ eight-year journey through Basic Training (OTS), Survival school and a slew of countries around the world, spanning from exotic beaches to desert tents, in both peacetime and the Iraqi Freedom/War on Terror efforts, is riddled with adventures, and comedic misadventures, of the self-professed “least-lethal officer in the military”.  

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Sobran las palabras…

I had the honor to work on this military project called “Army 360” great cast and crew big shout out to the greatest make up artist @menendezfx for making everyone look great!! #army #militaryproject #middleeastern #militarytraining #iraqui #iraquipolice #funtimes #actors #acting #filming #nofilter #soldiers #tbf #igdaily #igphoto #instadaily #tflers #training #great (at Veluzat Motion Picture Ranch Studios)

LesVos 3

First day proper of volunteering at Moria Camp, Lesvos on Afghan Hill with Better Days for Moria voluntary group was a quiet one for the camp, but we were assigned various jobs - cleaning up rubbish and laying a stone filter for the ground drainage. 

There were around six bus loads of refugees from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon,Afghanistan, Iran, and who knows where? today, who had crossed by sea from Turkey. After registration those, apart from the Syrians and Iraquis, who have room to stay in the well-appointed (for a prison) Moria Camp, come to our tented camp where they are given dry, warm  clothes, vegetarian food, and access to phone chargers, toilets, and washing facilities. 

Although cold, it is dry and sunny, the kids play, as the adults find out what they have to do to get to the ferry and mainland Europe. The first thing that everyone seems to do is get onto their mobile phones, after buying a Greek SIM card for 10-15 euros. Other opportunists try and offer them dodgy goods, but the NGO personnel and hardy volunteers try and make sure they do not sell them anything as they can get a lot free here anyway. This dire situation always favours those determined to make a fast buck, and the police are often called to move the chancers away, or arrest the more persistent leeches.You hear disturbing stories from those who have been here for many months, especially when the camp is overwhelmed by several hundreds of traumatised arrivals. 

“ The most respectful and polite and calm are probably the Syrians. Their traumatic experiences seem to make them more grateful than the rest. They are so glad to be away from the war, and it shows in their calmness, especially the kids,” one of the volunteers told us.

As it is a relatively quiet day, we are able to talk to the volunteers at more length, as well as to some of those refugees who can speak a little English. Many have no firm and specific destinations, and only, at the moment the Syrians, Iraquis and Afghans have the possibility of unfettered movement north from Athens. The exodus to what they believe will be a better life has gathered those from many different nations, who often cannot now return to their homeland. They want to take refuge in Europe for understandable reasons, but they are not ‘refugees’. The rock strewn olive grove that is Afghan Hill is not a level playing field in more ways than one….           

Esto es el golfo; empieza la guerra terrestre, y van los iraquies y / consultan a sus asesores militares rusos sobre lo que deberian hacer; los / estrategas sovieticos les dicen que deben retirarse 50 Km. Asi que los / iraquies se quedan bastante sorprendidos, pero se retiran los 50 Km. Al cabo / de un par de dias ya tienen encima otra vez al ejercito americano, asi que / vuelven a preguntar a sus asesores rusos, y les dicen que se retiren 100 Km. / La idea no les gusta a los iraquies, pero claro, no van a cambiar de estra- / tegia en mitad de la guerra, asi que se retiran otros 100 Km. Esto ocurre / varias veces, hasta que finalmente esta todo el ejercito iraqui concentrado / en Bagdad, y los generales iraquies preguntan por ultima vez a los rusos que / hacen ahora; entonces, los asesores militares les dicen : “Oh, ahora es / facil, esperen a que llegue el invierno.” /

más chistes de Chistes De Militares
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‘Afghan Hill’, LesVos, where all those refugees, who are not Syrian or Iraquis, seem to end up. Although a camp for Afghans, there are many other immigrants from as far a field as Nepal. The place reminded me of a cross between a Roger Fenton photograph of the Crimea War and Appleby Gypsy Fair

Esto es el golfo; empieza la guerra terrestre, y van los iraquies y / consultan a sus asesores militares rusos sobre lo que deberian hacer; los / estrategas sovieticos les dicen que deben retirarse 50 Km. Asi que los / iraquies se quedan bastante sorprendidos, pero se retiran los 50 Km. Al cabo / de un par de dias ya tienen encima otra vez al ejercito americano, asi que / vuelven a preguntar a sus asesores rusos, y les dicen que se retiren 100 Km. / La idea no les gusta a los iraquies, pero claro, no van a cambiar de estra- / tegia en mitad de la guerra, asi que se retiran otros 100 Km. Esto ocurre / varias veces, hasta que finalmente esta todo el ejercito iraqui concentrado / en Bagdad, y los generales iraquies preguntan por ultima vez a los rusos que / hacen ahora; entonces, los asesores militares les dicen : “Oh, ahora es / facil, esperen a que llegue el invierno.” /

más chistes de Chistes De Militares
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