“Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011”

“This exhibition, which examines the devastating effects of the 1991 and 2003 US invasions of Iraq, presents some one hundred works by over seventy-five artists, among them Dia al-Azzawi, Paul Chan, Harun Farocki, Hanaa Malallah, the Guerrilla Girls, and Monira Al Qadiri.”

MoMA PS1, New York, through March 1, 2020

From the Iliad to “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” from Trajan’s Column to Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s monument to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, armed conflict, for all its carnage, was long seen as a theater for virtues—valor, glory, and honor—scarcely conceivable in art circles today. The mechanized slaughter of WWI and WWII and the moral quagmire of Vietnam seem to have left only the grim options of pathos, outrage, or pure cynicism for artists addressing military subjects now. Such are the reactions proffered in this exhibition, which examines the devastating effects of the 1991 and 2003 US invasions of Iraq. The show presents some one hundred works by over seventy-five artists, among them Dia al-Azzawi, Paul Chan, Harun Farocki, Hanaa Malallah, the Guerrilla Girls, and Monira Al Qadiri.

Monira Al Qadiri, Behind the Sun, 2013, video (color, sound) 10 min. Courtesy the artist.