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Artists Announced for Iraqi Pavilion at 2017 Venice Biennale

The Ruya Foundation has announced the participating artists for Iraq’s national pavilion at the Fifty-Seventh Venice Biennale in May 2017. The local and internationally based contemporary artists participating are Luay Fadhil, Sherko Abbas, Sakar Sleman, Ali Arkady, Sadik Kwaish Alfraji, and Nadine Hattom, and the two modern artists represented in the exhibition are Jawad Salim, widely considered the most influential artist of the Iraqi modern period, and Shaker Hassan Al Said, who was a pupil and friend of Salim.

The exhibition, titled “Archaic,” will also include ancient Iraqi artifacts, and the pavilion will feature a new commission by the Belgian-born artist Francis Alÿs on the subject of war and the artist. The pavilion is curated by Tamara Chalabi, chair and cofounder of the Ruya Foundation, and Paolo Colombo, an art adviser at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art. Of the six living artists, five have been commissioned by Ruya to create new work for the pavilion.

In early 2016, Ruya helped Alÿs organize a trip to Baghdad and to the refugee camps in northern Iraq. Alÿs followed this visit with another expedition in October 2016, in which he was embedded with a Kurdish battalion on the Mosul frontline during the ongoing campaign to liberate Mosul from ISIS. Further details of the newly commissioned work for the pavilion, along with information about the ancient artifacts on display, will be announced in 2017.