petak, 26. listopada 2012.

Sadik Kwaish Alfraji - The House That My Father Built

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na Vimeu

Multimedia installation consisting of a painting 620 x 400 cm, several ready-mades, and an animation film projected on a 700 x 900 cm. surface.

Q&A with Sadik Kwaish Alfraji

LYL: 'The House That My Father Built (Once Upon a Time)' is an enormous composition in which a cycloptic giant stoops over a series of mesmerizing images that revolve around three actual objects: a photograph of your mother, your father, and your father's clothes hanging on the wall. Perhaps you could begin by telling us a little about the moment that inspired this work?

SKA: It is a moment that is not easy to forget, as it has always accompanied me. A moment when I was fully aware of death and its implications of nonbeing at the same time as my feeling of existence was at its peak. Except now it became an existence which carried its opposite—non-existence—within. An existence suddenly sharp and painful and burdened with anxiety. My father had died, and with that a big part of me. Awareness of death seized me, touched me and became a part of me, so that the shape of death was everywhere.
Death is mostly perceived as the death of an other—nothing to do with you. When my father died, Death touched me in the person of my father and for the first time became a reality to me, albeit rough and condensed. As I stood there in my father's mostly empty room looking at his shadowy belongings, I realized that my father had gone.

LYL: With the sketches constantly being rubbed out and new ones being filled in the titular house of the piece, you invoke a history that is tumultuous with change. Can you tell us about the bigger events alluded to in this video?

SKA: I wouldn't call them events as such; they are more like daily happenings which appear and then vanish to give way to new ones. I intended those drawings inside the house to be memories observed from a time machine. People grow old and die. Things come and go with no logic behind the flux. In drawing these pictures, I was guided by a deep longing for some kind of fulfillment, for life and the love that accompanies it. All those figures soaring and floating around the house are just messengers of a soul thirsty for a glimpse of that long gone childhood that can never be revisited.

LYL: At seven meters high, your piece dwarfs exhibition visitors. How does the physical size of the installation affect the way your work is received?

SKA: I would have made it even bigger if I could. My intention was to decenter the viewer's ego by dwarfing him, and reminding him that we are stories that play out for a short while and afterward disappear forever.
Furthermore, the projection should be big and it should fill the entire wall, because that moment of existential awareness that I allude to is intense. Because it's an awareness that is so total that it's the only thing you can see. Herein lies one of the contradictions of life: we are infinite, on the one hand—seeing all things through the prism of our perception, but on the other, we are also so small—our bubble-like existences leaving no trace whatsoever when they are over—that we cannot claim to be necessary at all to the world.

LYL: To what extent do you see yourself as an Iraqi artist? What do you think your works say about Iraq today, if anything, and how do you find yourself relating to its tragic recent history?

SKA: Iraq was where I was born and where I grew up to become the person I am today. My identity is tied to Iraq, and to a certain extent, so is my temperament that is colored by a certain Southern sensitivity, heavy with poetry and grief. What happened–and is still happening–in Iraq touches me so deeply and so strongly that it will always influence my work. For those who know it, war is a walking death—a vicious virus that eats away at the soul. (And by the way, all odors can be forgotten but that of death. It has a smell that clings to you for life.) I lived with it day in and day out all through the eighties and nineties, until I left the country. But my attachment to what happens in Iraq, both as a human being and an artist, does not detach me from what happens elsewhere in the world. The blood that is shed is red anywhere. -
The house that my father built, ( Once Upon a Time )

Multimedia installation consisting of a painting 620 x 400 cm, several ready-mades, and an animation film projected on a 700 x 900 cm. surface.


duration: 6 min. 20 sec.
music: David Darling - children
animation assisstant: P. V. D. Zanden

the Scale:
9 meter width
7 meter height

(size of the projected animation)
the Painting:
Once Upon a Time
indian ink, chinese paper, rice paper & oil on canvas,
620 x 400 cm.

the Opjects:
photos of my father & my mother
taken in Baghdad, studio Adel, Al Thawra city 1982,
reproducted by the artist in the Netherlands:
each: 40 x 50 cm.
my father's traditional clothes.

































Once upon a time
In the family house, and in my father’s room in particular, which was his guest room and daily sitting area, my feet shook as I entered the room after long years of expatriation. His clothes, which were hanging there in a corner, were the first things I laid eyes on. That was a very intense and emotional moment to me.
This is then what is left of my father??
His kufiyeh “head cover”, agal “headband”, praying beads, and traditional clothing. They were all deeply rooted in his identity and sentiment. They, with his big old collection of coffee pots made part of his dignity, respect and sense of belonging.
They were hanging there, high, tidy and clean, as always, ready to be worn, exactly as he used to hang them himself. They were leveled upright on the wall surrounded by lost ghosts and floating shadows, restless and anxious, pacing the room, swaying on the beat of his strong, deep voice which filled the room, together with the smell of fresh roasted coffee and the tunes of old sad Mawaweels.
This is then what is left of my father!
A few Objects,
Hundreds of memories,
A grieving love which still fills my mother’s eyes,
And many unfinished tales.
A moment of confusion.
A world disappeared and a new one aroused, a more beautiful charming world.
Here in this room I used to sit next to him, sometimes on his lap or on my mother’s were I felt warm and happy switching between the two. I used to put my arms around his neck or dangle my legs over his broad shoulders, loudly laugh and sing. Here I used to play, run, dance draw and dream, sheltered by their presence and love.
Oh Lord, where do memories come from?
Where do they go?
Where do they disappear and in which cupboard are they set?
How do they suddenly return, so strong and so intense, which makes the whole world vanish, and then they fade as an old tale which once was.
A tale where boundaries get lost and dissolve in an unlimited world of tales.
I shiver as I now see this before my eyes.
A shiver of consciousness.
Imagine that your body is stretched up, getting taller and higher; you slightly bend to see what’s below you. You’ll see yourself among the crowd, anxiously moving within masses of people, things, memories and emotions. For a while, you’ll lose your balance as you realize that you are not but a little story or a lost tale in a universe of countless, endless tales. Then you know that you are both the story and the storyteller.
Wherever we go, however we change or grow old, “Once upon a time…” would always be the words we carry within, long for and cherish. These words pull us towards memories and times, things and places, images and people that cannot be separated from us. “Once upon a time” is another version of ourselves from within.
‘Once upon a time” is me as I was born. It is me as a child. It is me a second ago, and will also be me as I die.
“Once upon a time” is our childhood, our school, our friends, family, dreams, needs and desires…. it is all our lives as we bear and are borne.
Sadik Kwaish Alfraji
The Netherlands 2010
  Artist's statement
Told / Untold / Retold
sourse: Art Reoriented
Told / Untold / Retold: 23 stories of journeys through time and place will present new works commissioned by Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art from 23 contemporary artists with roots in the Arab world. The most ambitious museum exhibition of contemporary art ever presented in the Arab world, Told / Untold / Retold will include painting, sculpture, photography, video, multimedia installations and interactive digital art. The participating artists are Adel Abidin, Sadik Kwaish Alfraji, Buthayna Ali, Ahmed Alsoudani, Ghada Amer, Kader Attia, Lara Baladi, Wafaa Bilal, Abdelkader Benchamma, Mounir Fatmi, Lamia Joreige, Amal Kenawy, Jeffar Khaldi, Hassan Khan, Youssef Nabil, Walid Raad, Khalil Rabah, Younès Rahmoun, Steve Sabella, Marwan Sahmarani, Zineb Sedira, Khaled Takreti, and Akram Zaatari. Told / Untold / Retold is curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, the co-founders of Art Reoriented, a curatorial platform focusing on contemporary art from the Middle East.
Told / Untold / Retold is a collection of 23 stories each vividly expressed in a new art work. Some stories are "Told," evoking autobiographical accounts and nostalgia for the things that were. Other stories are "Untold," anticipating an imagined future that speaks of things that could be. And there are those that are "Retold," proposing an alternative narrative to the things that are. Central to each story is the use of time as a concrete compositional element and the reflection on the act of journeying, a condition that has come to describe the rampant fluidity of today's society.
In discussing the curatorial theme of the exhibition, Bardaouil and Fellrath said, "Today's artists are in constant transmigration across a diversity of cities and locations, yet never escaping redundant geographical labels through which their work is misconstrued. They are in perpetual metamorphosis, in a state of 'in-betweenness'. These journeys occur not only in place, but also in time. When you move and leave things behind, you remember, recollect and reconstruct, but you also reorient and redirect yourself. These are all acts into which time is intricately weaved. This explains why time is often a significant formalistic component within contemporary artistic practice. In that sense, Told / Untold / Retold is a subversive confrontation, celebrating a willful act of uprooting that is reflective of the transient condition of our world."
An introduction to the philosophy of freedom  

video, painting & old disused space installation. Stads gallery, Amersfoort , the Netherlands, 04.05 - 30.05.2010

    I know that I can choose, but I can not confirm that I am free, for my choices are always confined to conditions beyond my will.  

sadik 2010
Make him the greatest human
ink, rice paper on board,
122 x 44cm.
Basic Notes No. 03:
I have to die,
3 sec. loop,

Basic Notes No. 01:
I have to,
13:10 minutes . loop,
reproduct 2010.

installation view





Basic Notes No. 02:
I have to,
2 sec. loop,
reproduct 2010.


Make him the greatest human
ink, rice paper on board,
122 x 44cm.
Make him the greatest human
ink, rice paper on board,
122 x 44cm.
installation view



  A cup of coffee with Kafka  

Re:visie 2009 (with the title: "Dear Cinema,..." )
between film and the fine art.

't Hoog , Utrecht, the Netherlands . 28.08 - 08.09.2009
Meeting Kafka
video still
Meeting Kafka
digital print
installation view:
I want to run awy

Meeting Kafka
digital print
Meeting Kafka
installation view:
Meeting Kafka

    "What has happened to me? he thought. It was no dream."
Kafka (Gregor Samsa in the Metamorphose)

selected pages from one
edition artist's book
"Other faces of Gregor Samsa"
ink on paper,
20x40 cm.
Could be a Zebra
Could be a Bull
Could be a Tiger
Could be a Cow
Could be a Dog
Could be a Pig
Could be a Donkey
Could be an Elephant
Could be a Rhino
Could be a Hippo
installation view:
I want to run awy
installation view:
Basic Notes No. 03:
Can you see clearly ?


't Hoogt re:visie 2009 inv. card
the image from:
"Andalusian dog"
film by:
Luis Bunuel & Salvador Dali

    Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life 
"Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life (1993) is a short comic film for BBC Scotland. It was written and directed by Peter Capaldi, it stars Richard E Grant as Franz Kafka, and co-stars Ken Stott."
 Sadik Kwaish Alfraji was born in Baghdad in 1960, and studied at the Institute of Fine Arts and the Academy of Fine Arts in Iraq. In 2000, he obtained a High Diploma in Graphic Design from the CHK Constantijn Huygens in the Netherlands, where he is now based, working as a print maker, designer, and visual artist. He began to create art in the 80s, when he was still living in Baghdad. Since then, he has participated in countless exhibitions in the Middle East, in Europe, in Asia and in the US. His work often blends art and philosophy to expand the formalistic and conceptual boundaries of his aesthetic. His haunting mixed media compositions (which are but one example of the intense expressionism often found in his graphic work) explore a variety of themes ranging from existence and the universal human condition to the experiences of exile and fragmentation. He has said of his work: "I do not paint out of luxury, and do not seek beauty, but as an attempt to reason with the world and with myself....Yet, always, the result does not exceed a restless sort of crying."
Click here for his website.
 Sisyphus goes on demonstration na Vimeu

    Born April 9th

SM's - Stedelijk Museum 's-Hertogenbosch
(Den Bosch), Netherlands 11.10.2007 - 13.01.2008 (extending to 20th Jan.)
curated by: Elly Stegeman, Jos Poodt

Station Museum
Houston, TX, USA 01.11.2008 - 01.02.2009: curated by: James Harithas, Alan Schnitger
  part of the video

    This exhibition is not a description of a war or a daily death lived in Iraq,
It is a birth certificate of a Plague that filled the air in the name of “Freedom”,
a freedom that has been dreamed of by the Iraqis for generations.
I invite you to read the picture, not to look at it.

sadik 2007
In the name of Freedom
indian ink, rice paper on one piece of canvas
800x300 cm.
You cannot erase the traces of war
Series of lambdaprint
each: 90x70 cm.
Born April 9th
video installation

To watch the videos:

click hear


view installation,
SM's - Stedelijk Museum
view installation,
the Station Museum
    Project poster, Houston, 2008. desgin: Sadik Kwaish Alfraji    
Silent humane primal scream for Iraq in SM's
by Mark van de voort
09th April 2003: a very charged date in Iraq’s recent history. The day that Baghdad and Iraq were liberated from Saddam Hussein by the Americans. That moment everything changed. The promise of freedom wasn’t kept.
Even worse, the country is torn (apart) and its inhabitants are deserted, in a shattered state. Sadik Kwaish Alfraji, an Iraqi artist, living in Amersfoort, could not ignore this date. He’s been living and working in the Netherlands for 10 years now and in his humane work he’s been trying to build bridges between philosophy, art and the harsh, sobering reality.
Alfraji shows his gripping video-installation in the SM’s in Den Bosch. An installation without sound in which Alfraji keeps after the atrocities very closely.
On eleven television screens a disconcerting flow of images is projected onto the head or body of the artist. Like a stream of TV fragments being reflected on the skin of the artist. On the videos Alfraji is pondering gravely, listening attentively or is stretching out, among other, both his palms as in a religious gesture of hope. Various poses and various states of mind. The images are recognisable and continue to be agonising: crying and shouting Iraqi’s, the violence of war, the blood-shedding and the Western politicians watching powerless.
“The Iraqis have lost everything, their houses, their streets, their country. In my installation I try to portray the exact state in the heads of the Iraqis. They can’t see anything other than death and destruction. This is the daily rhythm of the Iraqi people, the rhythm of death.” explains Alfraji.
The work isn’t politically charged but is about life, our existence, according to the artist. “From the philosopher Socrates until now the human mind has made but little progress. Philosophy, art, music; all this didn’t stop the killing. Politics still rule.”
Alfraji’s work is charged in an extraordinary way, but he can’t do it any other way. Besides the video-installation he’s also showing his impressive work/cloth ‘In the name of freedom’ a huge ink drawing on rice paper. A black dragon with many heads attacks a human being, an unresisting and completely overwhelmed victim. A cloth as black as jet that tells a lot.
Alfraji nods: “The work symbolises my grief, a high-pitched, loud scream and a crying fit. Sometimes you cry and you hope that no one sees you, but with this work I’ve lost all control and wanted to cry out.”
“ Born April 9th”, works of Sadik Kwaish Alfraji, till 13 January 2008, SM’s, Magistratenlaan 100 in Den Bosch, Tue. and Thurs. from 13:00 to 21:00, Wed., Fri., Sat., and Sun., from 13:00 to 17:00.
“This is the daily rhythm of the Iraqi people, the rhythm of death.”
On eleven television screens a disconcerting flow of images is projected onto the head or body of the artist. Like a stream of TV fragments being reflected on the skin of the artist.

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