Abidin Travels (Welcome to Baghdad)
(Welcome to Baghdad)
Curated by Marketta Seppälä
Exhibition on View:
September 24-October 23, 2008
September 24th, 6-9pm
This September, WHITE BOX presents the U.S. premiere of Adel Abidin's Abidin Travels as the inaugural exhibition at our new Bowery location. This work was featured in the Nordic Pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale. As the first exhibition at WBX Bowery, WHITE BOX presents the installation revitalized with additional features that address the architectural space as well as sell real tickets available for travel to Baghdad. In the under-construction Black Box, WHITE BOX will screen a new film, Construction Site , also viewing at MoMA September 15th. I am Sorry will premiere as the first ever piece exhibited in the vertical Tower Projects.
In the shadow of the upcoming 2008 presidential elections, this multi-disciplinary installation offers a new perspective on the remnants of this Middle Eastern city in the wake of the 2003 American invasion. Fabricating the space into a travel agency, Adel Abidin's installation includes travel brochures, a travel website, and an office with live tourist agents selling real holidays all to Iraq. Abidin's wry commentary attempts to mask the gross reality of Baghdad's volatility. Shrouded in controversy and convoluted to the point of abstraction, Baghdad and the Iraq War have somewhat managed to escape the subjective eye of the art sphere. Choosing to satirize the catastrophic implications of the American occupation due to the impossibility of communicating the unimaginable horror of Occupation, Abidin highlights how Western desensitization, in part fed by an overwhelmingly biased media, has perpetuated the ongoing atrocities.
About the artist:
Adel Abidin was raised in Iraq in the midst of the Gulf War and Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime, where he encountered first hand the horrors of war and the destruction perpetuated by questionable international foreign policy. After attaining his BA from the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad, Abidin emigrated to Helsinki, Finland in order to further his career in the arts. Enjoying the liberal nature of Scandinavia and continental Europe, Abidin also found himself subject to Eastern generalizations and stereotypes. Confronting the Western perception of the Middle East through his interactions with European culture and society, Abidin began to reflect his new persona as an Iraqi expatriate in his art. Abidin has had numerous exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout Europe, the Middle East and North America.