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Requiem for Innocence

On 22nd September 1981, at exactly 12 am Baghdad time, 192 Iraqi combat Aircrafts took off from their bases for targets deep inside Iranian territory. The second wave of Iraqi attacks came around 3 pm. By late afternoon Bushehr Tactical Air Base retaliated by attacking targets in Southern Iraq. Thus started a bloody war which lasted for 8 long years, consuming hundreds of thousands of lives and irrevocably changing the lives of millions more, with enormous social and economical damage to both countries. Alan Clark , British Minister of State for Defense (1982-1989), acknowledged long after, “The interests of the West, were best served by Iran and Iraq fighting each other, and the longer the better. 30 years after the war began, for the first time a small group of artists from both countries are coming together to Share their sufferings.

The exhibition includes photography of Jassem Ghassbanpour, the renowned Iranian Documentary photographer, whose extensive archive of photographs is a time line of this devastating war. The photographs on show are not the gruesome images of the dead soldiers, which he has lovingly recorded, but this selection is as anti-war as it can be. Innocence lost, lives shattered, trusts betrayed.

Wafaa Bilal, an Iraqi-born artist living in the United States, joins the Iranian artists in this exhibition to war, absence, and remembrance. “A Call,” a performance and video projection, presents the corporal impact of war and commemorates the Iranian and Iraqi people who lost their lives, along with those who are often overlooked or left behind. Over 80 Iranian performers will take part in this memorial to the dead and the living. Bilal will be attending the exhibition remotely, from a parallel opening at White Box, an art space in New York City. A live video feed will be streamed on the White Box’s walls ,this mediated performance will enact the dislocations, delays, and ruptures that war breeds.

Baktash Sarang Javanbakhat, the youngest of three artists, was born on the same year that the deadly conflict began. He appears to be consumed with human sufferings, particularly the type that is inflicted on humans by humans. Very much like his peers he has lived with consequences of a devastating war which happened right after an earth shattering revolution. He belongs to the Golden generation of Iranian Artists who believe in integrity of Humans despite all that has come to pass.

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