December 2005 and February 2006
Daytime and evening
In addition to an impressive multi-media exhibition depicting scenes and episodes from Iraqi's social history the project held a number of cultural evenings.
In December a poetry evening with Saadi Yousef, Fadhil Al-Azzawi and Sargon Boulus, followed the next evening by a round-table on Iraqi literature in the 1960s and 1970s, where the poets were joined by Iraqi painter Faisal Laibi.
The second part of Iraqi Equation centred on two evenings of discussions in February. The first saw three lectures on the destruction of cultural patrimony in Iraq. Fernando Báez, a poet, novelist and library specialist, catalogued the extent and magnitude of cultural destruction in Iraq as a result of the 2003 invasion and the ensuing chaos and continued occupation of Iraq, from statistics based on his own research and field visits as a representative of UNESCO.
As well as giving a brief overview of the history of modern Iraqi art, Hashim al-Tawil addressed the history of public monuments in Iraq with specific focus on the policies of the Ba’ath regime and how its ideology influenced the construction of various monuments, especially during the Iran-Iraq war.
Sinan Antoon’s paper, entitled “Debris and Diaspora: Iraqi Culture Now”, problematized the predominant approaches to understanding and analysing Iraqi culture. Antoon critiqued the disproportionate focus on Iraq’s pre-modern and ancient culture when addressing cultural destruction that comes from the Orientalist paradigm still operative in viewing “other cultures”.
He followed with a showing of the documentary film “About Baghdad”, made during his visit to Baghdad in July 2003.
The second evening, 25 February, entitled “Carte Blanche to Banipal”, was hosted by Banipal magazine and Samuel Shimon, who was in conversation with Fadhil Al-Azzawi, Shimon Ballas, Sinan Antoon and Salima Salih. As Iraqi authors of different generations, from the 1940s to date, their respective experiences laid bare the almost seismic changes undergone by Iraqi society during that period, how each generation of writers was treated by the Iraqi state, and how they copied with it, plus readings from their own works.
This was followed by a tribute to the late Samir Naqqash with a panel discussion on his work and a reading from his short story “Tantal”, published in English in Banipal.
To complete the evening, there was a Powerpoint presentation, launching Banipal No 24.