Frustrated by how corruption has stymied life in Baghdad, 19-year-old artist Sejjad Abbas scaled a high-rise building to have his own creative say. On the building’s façade, which faces the fortress-like Green Zone where Iraq’s elite live sealed off from their country’s violence, he painted a giant eye and the words “I can see you.”
Though Abbas was soon forced to remove the mural, his public “eye witness” stirred up “a lot of dialogue,” says Rijin Sahakian, founding director of the arts organization Sada which supports the development of young Iraqi artists, including Abbas. “Using public space is both part of the content of Abbas’ work and a necessity,” she added, since gallery closures and lack of support for artists have limited the spaces accessible for creative work.
Sada counters this isolation through online courses, education programs, and plans for an independent production space in Baghdad. In dire cases, it also helps artists like painter Bassim al-Shaker escape persecution.
For more info – www.sadairaq.org