Traces of Survival

Drawings of Refugees in Iraq selected by Ai Weiwei

Tamara Chalabi & Philippe Van Cauteren

Traces of Survival

25,00

Pages

152

Dimensions

29 x 24,5

Format

Hardcover

Traces of Survival communicates to the world visually the tragedies that have befallen entire communities in Iraq due to the ISIS onslaught that has left over 1.8 million people internally displaced.
The drawings in this book were created by the refugees in three camps in northern Iraq.
Representatives from the Ruya Foundation took simple art materials to the camps – sketch books, pencils, felt tip pens, pastels, erasers and sharpeners – and invited people to tell the world about their feelings and experiences through their drawings and words.
The first camp, near Dohuk, was newly built and sheltered over 4,000 Yezidi families, all refugees from Mount Sinjar. Their participation in the project seemed to be collectively therapeutic and its intensity was extremely moving. Baharka, the second camp, was home to over 8,000 families, mostly from in and around Mosul. Many elderly people were involved, who often chose poetry when images failed them. The third camp, in Ainkawa, was overpopulated and under-resourced. Situated in the grounds of a Catholic church, it housed over 135 families from the Christian village of Karakosh, outside Mosul.
The drawings from each camp demonstrate the specific fears and concerns of those temporarily living there: farmers, teachers, mothers, lawyers. The project was devised as an exhibition to accompany the Iraq Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2015, commissioned by the Ruya Foundation. It was difficult to imagine participating in Venice without giving some context to the unimaginable horrors endured by individuals, especially women and those from certain religious groups, under ISIS in Iraq. Therefore it seemed appropriate to use the visual language of art to communicate the refugees’ experiences to the biennale’s audience.
Tamara Chalabi ( Ruya Foundation chairman) and Philippe Van Cauteren (director of S.M.A.K and curator of the 2015 Iraq Pavilion at Venice) met with Ai Weiwei in Beijing, and he made a personal selection from the drawings. As an artist and political activist who has been a refugee in his own country, has lived through several exiles since childhood and has also lost his home, Ai Weiwei was the perfect choice to support this project and to increase its exposure internationally.
The Ruya Foundation for Contemporary Culture believes that the simple visual language of the drawings transcends borders and national identity, so humanising the plight of victims of terrorism and violence in an accessible way.

All 350 drawings are included in the book and Ai Weiwei’s selection of 80 is prominently presented. Traces of Survival will be launched at the Venice Biennale in May 2015 with proceeds from sales going to the artists.

Traces of Survival communicates to the world visually the tragedies that have befallen entire communities in Iraq due to the ISIS onslaught that has left over 1.8 million people internally displaced.
The drawings in this book were created by the refugees in three camps in northern Iraq.
Representatives from the Ruya Foundation took simple art materials to the camps – sketch books, pencils, felt tip pens, pastels, erasers and sharpeners – and invited people to tell the world about their feelings and experiences through their drawings and words.
The first camp, near Dohuk, was newly built and sheltered over 4,000 Yezidi families, all refugees from Mount Sinjar. Their participation in the project seemed to be collectively therapeutic and its intensity was extremely moving. Baharka, the second camp, was home to over 8,000 families, mostly from in and around Mosul. Many elderly people were involved, who often chose poetry when images failed them. The third camp, in Ainkawa, was overpopulated and under-resourced. Situated in the grounds of a Catholic church, it housed over 135 families from the Christian village of Karakosh, outside Mosul.
The drawings from each camp demonstrate the specific fears and concerns of those temporarily living there: farmers, teachers, mothers, lawyers. The project was devised as an exhibition to accompany the Iraq Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2015, commissioned by the Ruya Foundation. It was difficult to imagine participating in Venice without giving some context to the unimaginable horrors endured by individuals, especially women and those from certain religious groups, under ISIS in Iraq. Therefore it seemed appropriate to use the visual language of art to communicate the refugees’ experiences to the biennale’s audience.
Tamara Chalabi ( Ruya Foundation chairman) and Philippe Van Cauteren (director of S.M.A.K and curator of the 2015 Iraq Pavilion at Venice) met with Ai Weiwei in Beijing, and he made a personal selection from the drawings. As an artist and political activist who has been a refugee in his own country, has lived through several exiles since childhood and has also lost his home, Ai Weiwei was the perfect choice to support this project and to increase its exposure internationally.
The Ruya Foundation for Contemporary Culture believes that the simple visual language of the drawings transcends borders and national identity, so humanising the plight of victims of terrorism and violence in an accessible way.

All 350 drawings are included in the book and Ai Weiwei’s selection of 80 is prominently presented. Traces of Survival will be launched at the Venice Biennale in May 2015 with proceeds from sales going to the artists.

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