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Iraq Dialogs
Rainer Ganahl, Project, 21 Jun – 15 Aug 2003EN / NLPrint 

In Casco, Rainer Ganahl (Austria/USA) presents an installation which consists of ceramic tiles and centres on the exchange of ideas and opinions on the Iraq crisis with an Iraqi refugee. The installation is part of the 'Iraq Dialogs' project - a project of dialogs with a group of Iraqi refugees living in Europe. In realising the projects 'Iraq Dialogs' and 'Afghan Dialogs', Ganahl attempts to create a dialog platform where people who usually do not have a voice can shape their thoughts and emotions concerning political issues, and their personal and collective history.  
 
Each dialog in 'Iraq Dialogs' starts with a short text Ganahl has selected from his personal war archive on the Iraqi crisis. This is often a logo, title or sub-title that is ordinarily superimposed over news footage on American television to 'sell', justify and simplify the content - here the war in Iraq. This 'language' is produced by journalists who seem to be part of a military system: 'Would The U.S. Use Nukes?', 'Homeland Security', 'Next Target' and 'Attack Iraq' are a few examples. Ganahl shows his Iraqi dialog partners the text and they respond in their own language, Arabic.  
 
Casco will be showing the dialog with Iraqi refugee Hikmat (who doesn't want to be further identified) who fled to the Netherlands. Hikmat responds to the news logos Ganahl submits to him with Arabic texts and drawings. The meeting of these two languages provides a starting point for critical thought on the representation of the Iraq crisis. The dialogs are painted on ceramic tiles and then fired - rapid television images and Iraqi texts are inscribed upon the ceramics forever.  
 
Rainer Ganahl is an artist living in New York whose art focuses on the relationship between power and knowledge. Ganahl spends a great deal of his art practice learning new languages as he is interested in the manner in which the education system maintains the status quo and nips opportunities for ideological criticism in the bud. Languages that do not belong to the western curriculum which is characterised by Euro centrism and particularly by the linguistic imperialism of English. Learning these languages (Japanese, Greek, Korean, Arabic) is Ganahl's way of critically analysing the social world order or as he writes, 'It's a minimal, symbolic intervention into a socio-cultural game that is over determined by both socio-economic as well as politico-ideological problems.'  
 
During his stay in Utrecht, Ganahl also worked on learning Arabic. Hikmat was his teacher. The videos of these lessons, 'My first 500 hours basic Arabic' will be played at Casco. Also on view is the video 'Homeland Security'.

http://ganahl.info