Art Returns to Baghdad
In the New York Times, a report of an art exhibition in Baghdad.
Entitled “Beacons of Humanity,” it features 80 works by 39 Iraqi artists.
The twist: it is sponsored by Sheik Mazin al-Saedi, formerly arrested aide to the anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr.
And yet the art doesn’t hew to a strict, traditionalist line. According to the Times: “Some of the works are jarring, challenging fundamentalist interpretations of Islam that forbid depictions of human figures. Others suggest peace, reconciliation and the triumph of good over evil. For Iraqis, the mere fact of the exhibition was a sign that Iraq’s artistic traditions might have not only survived years of war and chaos, but also emerged reinvigorated.”
The exhibition is apparently part of an effort to create “an ideological, cultural, religious and social army” to battle “the secular Western tide,” so the language of warfare is still, sadly, dominant.
But when it comes to Iraq, I ‘d say “bring on the culture war.” Better that than the other kind.