A Hope and Peace to End All Hope and Peace

Rushdi Anwar


24 Nov - 10 Mar 2023

Rushdi Anwar’s world takes satirical delight in political irony. There is a reason for this. He is a Kurd. If there is one cultural group in this world that has repetitively endured the absurdity of foreign political strategy, it is the Kurdish community - one of the world’s oldest and largest indigenous stateless nations. Kurdish land and people have been arbitrarily divided by firstly the Ottoman Empire, followed by the British and French Empire, American-led interventions, and most recently infiltrated by ISIS.

A Hope and Peace to End All Hope and Peace is an exhibition that explores the cause and effect of arbitrary lines drawn by foreign powers in their fight to control what has historically been called the ‘Middle East’. It is an artistic exploration anchored in Anwar’s personal reflections, experiences and memories. An avid archivist of political intrigue and its popular souvenir, Anwar’s multi-media artworks are history lessons unlike any sanctioned text-book. His practice focuses on particular historical occurrence, used as lens with which to extrapolate a broader geopolitical history of recurring violence not only across the ‘Middle East’, but similarly suffered by the countless fleeing conflict globally today.

Three key subjects are central to this solo show. Firstly, the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, a colonial secret pact designed by Britain and France that senselessly divided this ‘Middle East’ into a continuing oil-fuelled, chaos; secondly, the human agents that History debates as the champions of Kurdish culture and its sovereignty: from Ezidi Mirza (1600-1651), a Yazidis military hero who challenged the Ottoman Empire; from Sheikh Mahmud Barzanji (1878-1956), a much-loved 'King' and bane of the British Empire's desire to control Kurdish territory; to Hoshyar Byawelaiy, a Kurd committed to the single-handed demining of Kurdish land today. And thirdly, the mimicry of colonial methodologies of terror - from British propaganda to Saddam Hussein to ISIS campaigns – a landscape, both human and non-human, suffering mass displacement and destruction that continues to be ravaged by proxy wars and religious extremism.

The sculptures, installations, sounds and moving images in this exhibition investigate these occurrences, embracing such materials as hand-woven rugs, archival photographs and documents, brass masonry, colonial carpentry, hand-touched prints, molten-bomb utensils, filmic documentary, historical radio propaganda and more.

A Hope and Peace to End All Hope and Peace focuses on the plight of the 'Middle East' - highlighting its heroes who became villains, its friends who become foes - understanding that the colonial mechanizations that have shaped its current condition are of parallel to the history of Southeast Asia, a region that continues to endure the ramifications of the Colonial Empire and its desire to divide, conquer and exploit. This ambitious body of work will offer local Thai audiences a unique perspective onto a geography of little-known synergy to its political and cultural circumstances.

information provided by event organizer