Beginning in 2006, Daniel Heyman traveled to Jordan and Turkey with American lawyers to meet with former detainees of Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq. As he listened to their testimony, Heyman drew their portraits surrounded by his transcription of their words. Later, he recorded the testimony of Iraqi victims and survivors of the Blackwater/Nisour Square shootings of September 2007. Heyman’s painted portraits function equally well as powerful documentary statements and within the tradition of artists’ responses to war (from Callot, Goya, Kollwitz, and Picasso, to others).
The exhibition also includes Heyman's personal response to the war in Iraq: a monumental etching on plywood entitled When Photographers are Blinded, Eagles' Wings are Clipped (2010). The work unites a number of expressionistic and symbolic elements which coalesce into a warning about censorship and the potential decline of American democracy.
Curated by Jo-Ann Conklin
image: Daniel Heyman, From the Time of Morning Prayers, 2008
The Ashes Series marks a shift of the platform of Iraqi-American artist Wafaa Bilal. Known for provocative, performative, and innovative artwork often using technology and new media, Bilal has cultivated an aesthetic of conflict, tension, and direct confrontation with the social, political, and ethical dynamics of the modern world. In contrast, the photographs in The Ashes Series are still - almost serene. The series consists of ten photographs of models constructed by the artist based on mass-syndicated images of the destruction of Iraq in the aftermath of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In all the photographs, he has removed the human figures that were present in the original images, replacing them with 21 grams of human ashes distributed throughout the ten models. Referencing the mythical weight of the human soul, these 21 grams insert a human aura into the photographs, troubling the serenity of the scenes - the afterimage of conflict. The proverbial dust, captured suspended in mid-air by the camera, will never settle.
Curated by Ian Alden Russell
Image: Wafaa Bilal, Chair, 2003-2012