ARTSPACE London is one of London’s lesser-known art venues for out-of-town visitors. It opened in May of 2012 and focuses on Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish art. The original ARTSPACE is in Dubai, and the owners decided to open a London branch to expose these Eastern artists to a Western audience.
The latest London exhibition is of Iraqi photographer Halim Al Karim, opening this year to mark the tenth anniversary of the invasion that led to the downfall of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government.
Al Karim felt the oppression of that regime as much as any Iraqi. He was an opponent of the dictatorship and refused to serve his compulsory military service. To avoid being imprisoned and tortured by Saddam’s goons, he hid out in the desert for three years, where he lived in a hole in the ground and was fed by local Bedouin.
How that experience morphed into the surreal yet delicate image shown here is for the viewer to resolve. His show, “Witness from Baghdad,” displays a range of works from throughout his career. Many confront the issues of war and oppression head on, yet always in a creative and distinct way.
“Halim Al Karim: Witness from Baghdad 2013“ runs until February 23. If you won’t be in London in time to catch it, show up at ARTSPACE London anyway. It’s fast becoming a landmark on the London art scene.
For more on contemporary Iraq, see our series on traveling in Iraq.
[Photo courtesy ARTSPACE London]