Friday, May 24, 2024

Hiwa Ok at KOW | Berlin


The “symbiotic embrace” between academic establishments and jail programs is broadly considered the cornerstone of the fashionable carceral state. In a brand new three-channel video, Like a Good, Good, Good Boy, 2023, Kurdish-Iraqi artist Hiwa Ok expands this dyad to incorporate the house, returning to Sulaymaniyah within the Kurdistan area of Iraq to bodily tether a 1,500-meter rope from his childhood residence to the varsity the place he studied and the infamous Amna Suraka jail. Within the charming central projection, drone footage follows the rope because it slices throughout stretches of cityscape. On one of many accompanying screens, an older passerby, stirred by the curious intervention, recounts the horrific crimes dedicated in Amna Suraka by Saddam Hussain’s Ba’ath regime from 1979 to 1991 and the incessant screams that crammed the neighborhood.

Very like a surgeon slicing by pores and skin to succeed in deeper broken tissue, Hiwa Ok creates situations for a various group of native Kurds to mirror on the violence that ensued after the Ba’ath coup of 1968. Their tales—amongst them, cases of former jail guards employed as academics—paint an image of cultural oppression performed by academic coverage, with an emphasis on the suppression of the Kurdish language in favor first of Arabic and now of English. The second video exhibits the artist strolling by school rooms, recalling when, on the age of 5, with none prior data of the language, he was enrolled in an Arabic faculty. This reminiscence of linguistic disorientation finds expression within the set of 5 backlit collages Ball ballat Babel, 2023, which mix scans of Arabic textbooks filtered by coloured shapes (a visible impact drawn from the artist’s earlier work My Father’s Colour Durations, 2014–). Concurrently nuanced and emotional, Hiwa Ok’s contemplative autonarrative strategy leaves a permanent imprint, a significant archetype to withstand amnesia on this period of knowledge overload.


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