Traces for Survival: Drawings by Refugees in Iraq, Selected by Ai Weiwei

art magazine

Earlier today, After Nyne reported details of The Ruya Foundation for Contemporary Culture in Iraq (Ruya)’s plans for the National Pavilion of Iraq at the 56th Venice Biennale in May 2015.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a display of drawings made by refugees in northern Iraq. In December 2014 Ruya launched a campaign to provide drawing materials to adult men and women in refugee camps. Ruya visited Camp Shariya, Camp Baharka and Mar Elia Camp and over five days the Foundation collected 546 submissions, including drawings, poetry and prose, all of which will be on display.

The submissions present incredibly powerful responses to life within the refugee camps. A depiction of tanks and aircraft returning fire on each other was drawn by a forty-year-old man carrying the caption, ‘our people have only lived amongst wars and destruction’, whilst another image depicts an isolated figure in a flooded refugee camp who petitions, ‘save us from drowning. I am Iraqi’.

By contrast, other drawings depict life before the refugee crisis, including a shining depiction of Mosul before Isis took control and a depiction of a traditional Yazidi festival.

A number of these images have been selected by Ai Weiwei for a major publication, TRACES FOR SURVIVAL: Drawings by Refugees in Iraq selected by Ai Weiwei, that will be published to coincide with the Biennale.

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