USA: MoMA ignores the artist’s request again at the ‘Gulf Wars’ exhibition

20 April 2020
Image: MoMa / Jon Rubin on Flickr


20 April 2020

USA: MoMA ignores the artist’s request again at the ‘Gulf Wars’ exhibition

Berlin-based Iraqi artist Ali Yass, one of the artists participating in the exhibition “Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991-2011”, planned a protest in the form of tearing his drawings off the walls at the closing of the exhibition. The MoMA learned about the protest and removed the artwork in advance, reported Hyperallergic.  

Yass could not attend the protest which was organised to oppose the alleged connections of the MoMA’s board members to defence contractors and prisons companies, but he permitted activists to tear up his artwork from his series “Now; 1992 (2016-2017)”.

Comrades have torn prints of my drawings. Against the War on Terror and the institutions that benefit. And in solidarity with Iraqis leading a revolution against their destruction and exploitation today.

Posted by Ali Yass on Sunday, March 1, 2020


Yass told Hyperallergic that the MoMA curators informed him via email that his artwork has been removed “for its safety.”



9 March 2020

USA: MoMA defy artist’s request at its ‘Gulf Wars’ exhibition 

12 January: Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz’s video RETURN, which is a part of the exhibition “Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991-2011”, has been interrupted by MoMA in spite of a request from the artist to not interfere with his artwork, reported Hyperallergic.

Rakowitz paused his video displayed at MoMA’s exhibition on 11 January as an act of solidarity with protests requesting that the museum’s controversial trustees detach themselves from questionable businesses.

According to Hyperallergic, the artists placed a note next to the displayed paused video saying that the statement should not be removed and that it was a part of the presented artwork. Regardless of the statement, the museum played the video.

In the RETURN project, Rakowitz re-opened his grandfather’s business of importing Iraqi dates.



22 November 2019

USA: Iraqi artists denied visas for travelling to the USA for MoMA exhibition

Iraqi artists participating in The Gulf Wars exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York were declined travel visas to the USA, reported Hyperallergic. The artists were unable to attend the exhibition in the USA due to the Trump administration’s travel ban or their asylum status, which complicates travelling possibilities.

The exhibition Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars, 1991–2011 gathered more than 250 works focusing on American military actions in Iraq created by 80 artists.

“A handful of artists faced some sort of obstacle in coming to the US,” one of the exhibition’s curators Ruba Katrib told Hyperallergic. “They were either denied or they knew they couldn’t come.”

According to Hyperallergic, Dutch-Iraqi artist, Afifa Aleiby is one of the participants who had her travel visa refused. The artist claims that she was not granted an online admission for Dutch citizens because, as it was explained to her, she would have to apply for a visa based on the fact that she was born in Iraq.

Ali Eyal is an artist based in Baghdad who could not attend the exhibition because Iraq is listed on the Trump administration’s travel ban.

The travel ban has been in place since December 2017 and was introduced by presidential order. The ban suspends visa applications from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, and Venezuela.

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