Tags: Philippe Van Cauteren, Tamara Chalabi
“Invisible Beauty,” the title of this book and of the Iraqi Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, refers both to the unusual or unexpected subjects in the featured works and to the inevitable invisibility of Iraqi artists on the international stage. The endlessly interpretable title is intended to reveal different ways of approaching art generated by a country that has been subjected to war, genocide and, in the last year, the rise of Isis. The systematic demolition of the cultural heritage of Iraq by Isis has made it more important than ever to focus on artists continuing to work in Iraq. The Pavilion will provide a platform to make these artists visible. The five artists featured in the exhibition and in this volume are the photographers Latif Al Ani and Akam Shex Hadi, the visual artist Rabab Ghazoul, the ceramicist Salam Atta Sabri and the painter Haider Jabbar. A rich compilation of texts accompanies by Iraqi authors the artists’ sections, addressing the wider notion of “invisible beauty” and its ramifications: an essay on the cylinder seals of Iraq by Lamia Al-Gailani; “My Lost Hen,” a story by poet and writer Fares Haram; “The Infidel Woman,” a short tale by novelist Ali Bader; Sherko Bekas’s poem “During the Great Raid”; and “The Sign,” a play by Atyaf Rasheed. Co-published with the Ruya Foundation for Contemporary Culture in Iraq.