SADA is a Baghdad-based initiative from 2011 to 2015 featuring a group of Contemporary Iraqi artists who were committed to working through the aftermath of American-led wars and occupation.
Former participants of SADA will showcase video works reflecting on their practice as Iraqi artists, their work with SADA, and where they are today. The participating artists are Sajjad Abbas, Bassim Al Shaker, Layth Kareem, Ali Eyal, Raed Mutar, Sarah Munaf, and Rijin Sahakian.
Artist Bassim Al Shaker, Ali Eyal, and co-organizer Aaron Hughes will lead a pre-screening discussion about SADA and the SURVIVING THE LONG WARS: Unlikely Entanglements exhibition.
About Surviving the Long Wars: Unlikely Entanglements:
SURVIVING THE LONG WARS: Unlikely Entanglements reveals the connections that emerge between personal and collective histories of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities marked by the legacies of the two longest wars in US history—the “American Indian Wars” and the “Global War on Terror.”
Visual parallels and connections surface—from contrasting viewpoints and across differences—between artworks by civilians impacted by these long wars and BIPOC military veterans. These “unlikely entanglements” highlight the aesthetic affinities that form between different histories, geographies, and peoples resisting colonialism. The featured artists use collage, embroidery, soft sculpture, and installation to unravel dominant histories of militarism while weaving together intimate stories of survival and resistance. Collectively, these consequential artworks of wartime survivors and their descendants conjure meaning out of the traumatic afterlives of the long wars while creating space for solidarity and alternative futures.
Unlikely Entanglements is one of the three featured exhibitions of the second Veteran Art Triennial, SURVIVING THE LONG WARS. From the “American Indian Wars” to the “Global War on Terror,” SURVIVING THE LONG WARS explores the multiple, overlapping histories that shape our understanding of warfare, as well as alternative visions of peace, healing, and justice generated by diverse and entangled communities impacted by war. The other exhibitions include Residues and Rebellions at the Newberry Library and Reckon and Reimagine at the Chicago Cultural Center.
About the artists
Bassim Al Shaker
Bassim Al Shaker is an Iraqi artist based in the United States. Bassim was born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, during a period of political conflict and humanitarian torment. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Baghdad College of Fine Arts, with a focus on drawing and painting. His style is the culmination of a background in academic drawing and painting techniques and exploration of contemporary art. Bassim obtained his Master of Fine Arts degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Bassim’s artwork has gained international recognition and has been showcased at prestigious events such as Miami Art Basel and EXPO Chicago. He has exhibited his work at invitation-only festivals such as the 2013 Venice Biennale and the 2022 documenta fifteen held in Kassel, Germany. These opportunities have allowed Bassim to connect with a global audience and share his artistic vision on an international stage. He is represented by Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago.
Ali Eyal (b. 1994) was born in The Forest, Small Farm. After earning a diploma from the Institute of Fine Arts, Baghdad, 2015, he studied at the HWP/Home Workspace, Independent Study Program at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut, Lebanon, 2016-17. His work explores the complex relationships between personal history, transitory memories, politics, and identity, using a variety of mediums, with a focus on drawing, transformed through other artistic modalities, such as text,installations, photography, and video. His work has been exhibited at MoMa PS1, New York,Beirut Art Center, Lebanon, and Warehouse, Abu Dhabi, UAE, among other venues. Eyal’s video works have been included in several exhibitions and festivals including the Rencontres Internationales, Paris; VITRINE x Kino Screenings, London; Sharjah Film Platform, Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE; and Cairo Video Festival, Medrar, Cairo, Egypt.
Aaron Hughes is an artist, curator, organizer, teacher, anti-war activist, and Iraq War veteran. Working through an interdisciplinary practice rooted in drawing and printmaking, he works collaboratively to create meaning out of trauma, transform systems of oppression, and seek liberation. This work often utilizes popular research strategies, experiments with forms of direct democracy, and operates in solidarity with the people most impacted by structural violence. Hughes works with a range of art and activist projects, including Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative, emerging Veteran Art Movement, Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project, and About Face: Veterans Against the War (formerly Iraq Veterans Against the War).