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PRINT February 2020

ON SITE

CONTESTED DEVELOPMENT

View of “Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011,” 2019–20, MoMA PS1, New York. From left: Khalifa Qattan, Desert Storm, 1979; Michel Auder, Gulf War TV War, 1991–2017; Khalifa Qattan, Kuwait Is Burning, 1971. Photo: Matthew Septimus.

THIS PAST OCTOBER, Mohammed Okab stood before a tribunal at Twelve Gates Arts in Philadelphia and presented a painting he had made of an arched entryway at the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. Through a translator, he explained that he didn’t consider himself an artist—he just liked to paint. He had been employed as a bookseller in Baghdad when American troops invaded the city in April 2003, launching a rocket through the museum where, days later, looting would begin.

Okab’s painting and speech functioned as evidence of the Iraq War’s lasting consequences and were presented as part of the two-hour performance A People’s Tribunal: 28 Exhibits, organized by the collective HEKLER. In staging this tribunal, the organizers anticipated, and offered a model for, a justice that may never come to pass, prefiguring the moment when the United States will at last be held accountable for

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