ABIDIN’S TRAVELS: WELCOME TO BAGHDAD
CURATED BY MARKETTA SEPPALA
SEPTEMBER 17 – OCTOBER 19, 2008
Shrouded in controversy and convoluted to the point of abstraction, Baghdad and the Iraq War– which have been subjected to an innumerable amount of media coverage– have somewhat managed to escape the subjective eye of the art sphere. Whether it is for fear of repercussion or, the simple inability of artists to properly illustrate the sheer destruction of both a civilization and a city, few have attempted the challenge. WHITE BOX presents Adel Abidin’s Abidin Travels in the shadow of the upcoming 2008 presidential elections, offering a new perspective on the remnants of the Middle Eastern city in the wake of the 2003 American invasion. Choosing to satirize the catastrophic implications of the American occupation due to the impossibility of communicating the unimaginable horror of Occupation, Abidin highlights how Western desensitization, in part fed by an overwhelmingly biased media, has perpetuated the ongoing atrocities.
Raised in Iraq in the midst of the Gulf War and Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime, Abidin encountered first hand the horrors of war and the destruction perpetuated by questionable international foreign policy. Enjoying the liberal nature of Scandinavia and continental Europe, Abidin also found himself subject to Eastern generalizations and stereotypes. Confronting the Western perception of the Middle East through his interactions with European culture and society, Abidin began to reflect his new persona as an Iraqi expatriate in his art.
Abidin Travels, a discussion of the current situation in Baghdad, will be premiering in The United States at White Box’s new Bowery Location. Fabricating the space into a travel agency which includes travel brochures, a travel website and an office with live tourist agents selling real holidays- all to Iraq. No return tickets, no children allowed and no assurance of safe arrival in the country, Abidin’s wry commentary attempts to mask the gross reality of Baghdad’s volatility.