Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Exhibiting at the Frequancy 13, Lincoln Digital Culture, 18 - 26 October 2013

Now and There
Video Projection: Inserted video of artist performing in three archived photographed locations

In this work, the artist is projecting his earlier understanding and the symbolic elements of the word “Revolution”: how revolution became a dream that the entire Kurdish society lived and acted with.  He is producing a video work using archived images of the people, places and locations that form a large space in his memory of the dream of revolution in order to communicate his nostalgic attachments to all the excitement and energy generated in the past.

Living far away from his homeland and possessed by those memories of the past, Jasim attempts to re-create a dream that is like a version of the events of the past and only exists in his memories. By inserting videos of himself acting with minimal movements - reading a book that was the center of discussion and argument throughout his youth and adulthood in Kurdistan - he attempts to communicate insights and the ongoing objectives of the revolution that change the way he looks at the future of humanity on earth. 

Jasim recalls his memories of revolution

Location 1: Tawela, Awesar- The new border landmark
Photo: Saddam Hussain and the King of Iran after signing the Algeria Agreement
Slogans: (In black) Down with Algeria Agreement; (in red) Long Live the Revolution
Music: “The revolution has not ended, we don’t submit to pain and failure. Although we have suffered, we are proud and unbeaten fighters”

I grew up in a family that was heavily involved with the political movement in Kurdistan.  My memories of revolution go back to 1974 when the Kurdish political movement for independence was in negotiation with the central government of Iraq. The Kurdistan Democratic Party governed our region at that time, but my father was a member and the organizer of the Iraqi Communist Party in our town. I remember the numerous times that he was arrested by the ruling party and all the meetings and discussions that happened in our house.  The Kurdish negotiations with the central government failed after the signing of the “Algeria Agreement” between Iran and Iraq in 1975.  In that agreement, Iran agreed to withdraw its support for the Kurdish movement; in return, Iran was given land in the south of Iraq and in the Kurdish area. The Kurdish movement at that time declared that the revolution had failed, and people who were involved escaped to Iran and Russia. After the withdrawal of the Kurdish armed movement, a large area of land in our village was added to Iranian land in a formal ceremony between officials of both countries.  Many families in our village were affected and pushed out of their land. In the same year, the “Patriotic Union of Kurdistan was formed by Jalal Talabani (current president of Iraq), and the Kurdish revolution for independence started again. 

Location 2: Tawela, Hana Swsw
Slogans: Down with fascist policies of compulsory evacuation of villages; Long live the revolution of Kurdistan.
Images: Two martyrs from Tawela.
Music: “I am taking this call from Kurdistan to all over the world. Come and gather comrades. The revolution is very strong here, the revolution of workers.”

When the Iraqi regime regained its political control over Kurdistan and our region, it started with a policy to evacuate the villages in the mountains and on the border with Iran. They called this campaign welfare reform, but it was very obvious that the main aim was to evacuate the Kurdish population from strongholds of revolutionary activity and to move the inhabitants to cities and compulsory camps. The Kurdish armed and political movement started organising activities against this policy: freedom fighters started their underground activities, attacking government headquarters and writing graffiti on walls against the compulsory evacuation of villages.  Hana Swsw was a popular street for freedom fighters to come down to at nighttime, attack the government head quarters in my village, Tawela, and write anti-government slogans.

Location 3: Halabja, Pasha Street, 1980-1988
Slogans: Long live the revolution
Image: Saddam Hussain falling to represent the popular demonstration in 1978
Other images: martyrs who were killed in the Kurdish uprising

After the breakout of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, our village was heavily bombarded and we were forced to move to nearby towns and cities. Halabja was a city committed to revolution, where many popular protests, demonstrations and underground activities were organized against the Ba’ath party and its discriminative policies against Kurdish civilians.  My brothers were involved in secret activities for the Iraqi Communist Party; one of my brothers then became a communist freedom fighter. Our house was one location where people gathered to discuss the political situation and to plan activities.  Pasha Street was one of the places in Halabja where freedom fighters and underground activists met and carried out their attacks against the government. I was too young to think of joining the political groups, but I was well aware of my family’s political affiliation and I was very proud to share what was discussed at home with my friends.  Halabja suffered constant bombardment by Iran and military attacks by the regime on several occasions. As I was studying in Sulaimanya, I escaped two major brutal attacks by the Ba’ath regime. The first was the popular peaceful demonstration in 1987, which demanded democratic reforms and the recognition of Kurdish equal ethnic rights. The regime responded by shooting, carrying out public executions and demolishing one of the largest residential areas “Kani Ashqan – Lover’s spring”. The second was the chemical attack in 1988 when more than 5000 civilians were brutally massacred and more than 10,000 injured.

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