Sami Al Karim
Opening date: October 16, 7pm – 9pm
Talk & Tour with the artist: October 16 from 5:30 pm
Exhibition dates: October 16 – November 15 2012
Under the title ‘Rebirth’, this exhibition brings together photographs from four different series by Iraqi artist Sami Al Karim. The title reflects the main theme of the exhibition, the idea of rebirth; of renewal within Al Karim’s homeland of Iraq, and throughout the Middle East. The four series included in the exhibition are the 2005 ‘Dream’ series; ‘Saga’ series, 2007; ‘Defacement’ 2010 and ‘Rebirth’ 2011.
Al Karim’s upbringing gave him a strong interest in photography – his father was a university professor and amateur photographer. Although Al Karim uses other mediums in his work, all pieces in this exhibition were created using film photography. Al Karim manipulates his work at negative stage, as well as on the printed photograph, before scanning and resizing in order to print in large scale.
In the ‘Dream’ series Al Karim explores the idea of dreams and liberty. Conceived during his time in incarceration – he often found himself imagining landscapes that were unavailable to him. These obscured images were taken in the United States in a number of locations during 2005 and are a window into Al Karim’s soul. When asked why he has not exhibited these before, he describes these works as deeply personal having been conceived in such traumatic circumstances.
In ‘Defacement’ we see the use of appropriated images in Al Karim’s works –Al Karim utilises images from times past, collected and re-photographed from magazines purchased at an American flea market, creating indistinct figures from multiple images sliced and placed together. These works represent a moment that is undefined in our lives; that we feel but we cannot quite remember or see accurately. The ‘Saga’ series also focuses on this undefined moment, a feeling that you have but are unable to articulate – especially in matters of the heart.
The ‘Rebirth’ series also uses appropriated imagery, however in this series the focus is maps, described by the artist as ‘ash maps’ as they are images taken from Google earth that show the destruction of Iraq – and the ash maps left behind. These maps are imposed onto female faces to create a juxtaposition of beauty and destruction, the clear vision of the female looking forward to a bright future amidst the devastation of the past.
These series make up the body of work titled ‘Rebirth’ and come together to conclude the artist’s ideas about life, love, reflection and the cyclical manner of human nature. Al Karim’s works all focus on time in some way, a moment, a cycle of time or the start of a new period – displayed best perhaps in his ‘Rebirth’ series. The works are all C-print photographs mounted in diasec, which creates a luminosity and lacquer-like finish; which brings the exhibition together visually as well conceptually.
(info and pictures provided by XVA Gallery)