Echo for Contemporary Iraqi Art—screening and panel at 54th Venice Biennale

Echo for Contemporary Iraqi Art—screening and panel at 54th Venice Biennale

Echo for Contemporary Iraqi Art

Jananne Al-Ani, Shadow Sites II (detail), 2011.
Courtesy the Artist and Abraaj Capital Art Prize 2011.
Photograph Adrian Warren. 
May 18, 2011
Echo for Contemporary Iraqi Art—screening and panel at 54th Venice Biennale

For the Pavilion of Iraq, Venice Biennale of Art 2011, Echo for Contemporary Iraqi Art will present two programs to accompany the first Iraqi Pavilion in 35 years. A commissioned film, Tigris (and other bodies of work), will screen at the pavilion. The panel, A Fluid Resilience (co-presented with the Arizona State University Art Museum), will take place June 4th,11–1pm at La Fondazione Querini Stampalia (just off Piazza San Marcos: Santa Maria Formosa, Castello 5252)


A Fluid Resilience will convene artists, scientists and other public intellectuals to discuss the possibilities of artistic and scientific practices as a means of social resilience and sustainable regeneration through innovative knowledge production. This panel builds on the use of water as the theme of the Pavilion.


Panelists: Jananne Al-Ani, Azzam Alwash, Gordon Knox, Richard Toon, and Sander van der Leeuw (panelist bios below). Organized by Gordon Knox, Rijin Sahakian, and Richard Toon.


Tigris (and other bodies of work) This short film by Baghdad-based filmmaker Oday Rasheed (Qarantina, Underexposure), takes an intimate look at the lives of three young artists working and studying to develop their own practices in Baghdad today. Ranging in age from 17 to 28 and working in film, photography and painting, their own possibilities for creative work are informed by and require the critical navigation of a fundamentally changing domestic landscape. Rooted in their relationship with this particular period in Iraq’s history, their work continues despite restrictions regarding gender, a severed education system, accessibility to a complicated and often out of reach global arts network, and working within a militarized urban environment.  Featuring artists Najwan Ali, Aymen Hayder, and Hydar Madlul. 


Oday Rasheed has been active in the Iraqi film scene since his youth. He wrote, produced and directed his first full-length feature, Underexposure (2005), which was the first film made in Iraq after the US-led invasion; among many awards, it won the prize for best film at the Singapore International Film Festival in 2005. He recently completed his second feature length film, Qarantina, which is currently touring film festivals internationally. He is also a novelist and co-founder of the Independent Iraqi Film Center.


A Fluid Resilience, Panelists:


Jananne Al-Ani is an artist. Her new work The Aesthetics of Disappearance: A Land Without People explores the disappearance of the body in the contested and highly charged landscapes of the Middle East. Al-Ani has exhibited widely, including solo shows at Tate Britain and Darat al Funun in Amman. Recent group exhibitions include Closer, Beirut Art Center, and Without Boundary: Seventeen Ways of Looking, MoMA, New York. She is a recipient of the 2011 Abraaj Capital Art Prize.


Azzam Alwash is the Director of NatureIraq, an organization working to restore the marshlands of southern Iraq. Encompassing an area larger than the Florida Everglades, these uniquely diverse wetland ecosystems were destroyed during the 1990’s. For more than a decade, Iraq-based engineer Alwash has been working to advocate for and re-hydrate the area, whose seas of reed beds were home to the ancient communities where human civilization began more than 5,000 years ago.


Gordon Knox is the director of the ASU Art Museum. Knox’s work explores the transformative role of the arts in society. Formerly a collaborator at the Stanford Humanities Lab and director of two international contemporary art residencies, Knox is recognized for collaborative projects that bring together experts in the arts, humanities and sciences to effect social change.


Richard Toon is associate research professor at the School for Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University and directs the Museum Studies program. Previously associate director of research at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Toon also served as education and research director at the Arizona Science Center, responsible for educational programming and services at the museum.


Sander van der Leeuw is the director of the ASU School of Human Evolution and Social Change and the Dean of the ASU School of Sustainability. An archaeologist and historian by training, and has taught at the universities of Leyden, Amsterdam, Cambridge, and the Sorbonne. His publications include sixteen books and over 120 papers and articles on archaeology, ancient technologies, socio-environmental and sustainability issues, as well as on invention and innovation.


For further information on these or other Echo programs please contact Rijin Sahakian, director, at [email protected]


The Pavilion of Iraq, titled Acqua Ferita/ Wounded Water, exhibits the work of six artists: Adel Abidin, Halim Al Karim, Ahmed Alsoudani, Ali Assaf, Azad Nanakeli, and Walid Siti. The pavilion is curated by Mary Angela Shroth and co-commissioned by Vittorio Urbani and Ali Assaf. June 4 –November 27th, 2011, Gervasuti Foundation: Via Garibaldi, Castello 995 Venice.  For more information visit


Echo (Sada) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the generation, presentation, and preservation of contemporary Iraqi art. Echo’s long-term vision seeks to: initiate exhibition and exchange programs for artists to increase visibility and presentation of their work in Iraq and internationally; connect artists in Iraq to one other and the international community using digital and physical platforms; expand artistic possibilities by providing greater access to training, education, resources and production tools; and to build an archive of Iraq’s contemporary artistic work andrelated documentation. Echo’s programs are made possible with the generous support of the Hivos Foundation.


The Arizona State University Art Museum


The ASU Art Museum in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts is a center for learning, innovation and creative research that brings national and international art and artists to the Phoenix area as well as supporting local artists and their work. A leader in multiple fields, including digital art, social residency and social practice as an agent of change, the museum models an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to art, often by engaging the public directly in the process. For more information contact Deborah Sussman Susser, public relations specialist, at [email protected]


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May 18, 2011

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