Drawing from individual stories, political actions, and his own experience fleeing Iraq by foot in the late 1990s, the deeply moving and often darkly absurd films, performances, and installations of Iraqi-German artist Hiwa K explore our most pressing issues—displacement, war, and identity. In videos like Pre-Image (Blind as the Mother Tongue) (2017) or A View From Above (2017), both produced for documenta 14, the artist allegorizes the fragmentation and precariousness of migration. In others, he stages collaborative interventions in sites of political trauma, including a former detention center for political prisoners, a civil protest in the Kurdish region of Iraq, and a scrapyard devoted to smelting battlefield waste. Hiwa K shows a selection of these works and discusses the ideas and approaches that inform his broader practice.
2006–19, Iraq/Turkey/Greece/Italy/Germany, multiple formats, ca 60 minutes followed by discussion
Presented in partnership with the Goethe-Institut Chicago
Hiwa K in person
Berlin-based artist Hiwa K studied informally and independently in his hometown, Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, focusing on European literature and philosophy available in Arabic. After moving to Germany in 2002, he became a music student of the flamenco master, Paco Peña. His referential repository consists of stories told by family members and friends, found situations, and everyday forms that are the products of pragmatism and necessity. Hiwa K has had major exhibitions at S.M.A.K. Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent, Belgium; New Museum, New York; Documenta 14, Kassel, Germany, and Athens, Greece; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Venice Biennale; La Triennale, Paris; Serpentine Gallery, London; and Manifesta 7, Bolzano, Italy. He is the recipient of prestigious awards including the Hector Prize for Contemporary Art, the Arnold Bode Prize, and the Schering Stiftung Art Award.