Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Al Malwiya
constructed from 1800 individually sewn poker sized playing cards that are reproductions of large scale paintings on wood.
153 cm in diameter and approximately 4 meters high.

Inspired by her own experiences as an immigrant living first in Baghdad, then Sweden, Italy and now the United States, Kahraman's exhibition Waraq illuminates the lives of people who personify the Iraqi Diaspora, their experiences in their homeland and their struggles and discoveries in countries where they have begun new lives. In Arabic Waraq means "paper cards," and references a common pastime Kahraman encountered often in the day to day afternoons of many Iraqis, before she herself (and many of them) left their homeland. These immigrants' stories of assimilation, alienation and discovery play out in ten paintings and a large installation structured using the imagery of a newly invented suit of cards. Each of these large paintings on panel will then be reduced and reproduced in familiar images that feature Kahraman's reinventions of these cards, from the two through the ace.

These new printed playing cards will subsequently be sewn with white thread into an 18 foot hanging installation, the artist's Project Al-Malwiya, which resembles an upside-down hanging version of a ninth century spiraling minaret (standing 52 meters tall, the same as the number of cards in a full deck). The Al-Malwiya tower is accepted as an Iraqi cultural landmark, one now partially destroyed by the cycles of war and internecine reprisals that have greatly impacted life in Iraq over the last 18 years. Kahraman's project also references so called "Archaeology awareness playing cards," 40,000 decks of which were printed and sent to American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007. These decks were designed to make troops aware of the damage they can cause to sites and to discourage the illegal trade in artifacts.