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Iraq’s artists reflect pain, trauma of the war
We pray and recite your neglected names,
We know that no paradise of peace will open its gates, even late,
And that our dreams are locked,
We have death, we have death, we have what explodes and what kills.
Abdul-Kareem Khalil won international fame back in May 2004 when he exhibited an alabaster statue of a crouching, naked man, his hands tied behind his back and his head covered with a hood.
It came only a week after photographs had emerged showing remarkably similar abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American guards at the Abu Ghraib prison on Baghdad’s western outskirts. Khalil said he based his sculpture on stories he had heard from former Abu Ghraib inmates freed before the scandal broke.
One recent statue depicts a woman flanked by two men. All three have paper bags over their heads, recalling the hoods used on detainees by U.S. jailors. One of the men has a protective hand placed on her shoulder. The other man is groping her thighs.
“The second man may be a symbol of evil,” explained Khalil.
His most disturbing sculpture depicts a man raping a woman. Both on their knees, the woman struggles to break free while the man restrains her, his hands pawing her bare breasts.
“Saddam was not an angel, but he was the head of a regime that had functioning institutions,” he said. “We thought that those who will come after him will be better, but that never happened.”
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