The Ruya Foundation, the commissioning organisation of the Iraq Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, has recently announced the featured artists for its 2017 exhibition. Sadik Kwaish Alfraji is represented in the multigenerational show with a new commissioned series. I am The Hunter/I am The Prey explores the dual nature of experiences such as love, which Alfraji views as a form of hunting. Using references that span the history of civilisation and include everything from language to ancient warfare, Alfraji details this aspect of the human condition in drawings, a video animation, and ready-made objects.
Alfraji’s inclusion follows his participation in the collective exhibition In the Eye of the Thunderstorm: Effervescent Practices from the Arab World & South Asia, a collateral event of the 2015 Venice Biennale that was curated by Martina Corgnati for Contemporary Practices Art Journal. This year he will appear alongside a diverse selection of artists, including the late pioneering painters Jewad Selim and Shaker Hassan al-Said.
The exhibition, ‘Archaic’, will explore the duality and tension in the concept of the archaic, which represents both the idea of a fundamental source, which is antique and steeped in history, as well as the idea of something outdated and no longer in use. The exhibition will refer to this dual understanding of the landscape of Iraq, where ‘archaic’ can simultaneously describe an ancient cultural and geographical heritage and a fragile contemporary political entity.
The exhibition is the product of over two years of dialogue between Chalabi and Colombo and will display the work of eight Modern and contemporary Iraqi artists in dialogue with ancient Iraqi artefacts. It will also include a new commission by internationally acclaimed Belgian-born artist Francis Alÿs on the subject of war and the artist.
‘Archaic’ will be the third occasion on which the Ruya Foundation has commissioned the Iraq Pavilion at the International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. It follows the critical success of ‘Invisible Beauty’, which Ruya commissioned for the Biennale Arte 2015.