Hiwa K, My Father’s Colour Periods, 2014. Multi-channel video installation, 16 vintage TV sets and cellophane sheets. Courtesy the artist; Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai; and Frédéric de Goldschmidt Collection, Brussels. Photo: Daniella Baptista.
The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery presents Hiwa K’s first major solo show in Canada.
CURATOR: NOOR ALÉ, ASSOCIATE CURATOR
Do you remember what you are burning? is a survey exhibition that gathers installations, sculptures, photographs, and films that relate to themes of belonging and displacement by Iraqi Kurdish artist Hiwa K. His artwork evokes political realities, oral histories, alternative teachings, and familial and personal memories inspired by his native homeland of Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan. Rooted in his life story, the works reflect on his experiences of exile and asylum during the Gulf War (1990–91), the disorientating conditions of being uprooted from his country, and his political participation in Iraq’s pro-democracy uprisings of the Arab Spring (2010–13).
Through spontaneous and staged collaborations, Hiwa K engages in performances that position him in the role of activist, bandleader, interviewer, or cook, and oftentimes, he invokes the participation of individuals such as protestors, metal casters, and philosophers. Deeply interested in knowledge structures and power relations, he employs strategies that are intended to democratize and make accessible modes of thinking, learning, and remembering that have been hierarchically structured by the economic and political systems of today. As a way of challenging dominant forms of knowledge found in academic settings, he embraces self-education and considers himself to be an “extellectual,” an individual who draws knowledge from everyday occurrences that foster collaborations and collectivity among people.
Both personal and political, Do you remember what you are burning? traces the powerful connections between migration, geopolitics, and armed conflict through the lens of the artist’s migratory path. Collectively, these poetic works offer critical commentaries on the most urgent humanitarian challenges of our time—the global displacement of citizens as a result of warfare and economic crises.
Hiwa K (b. 1975) lives and works in Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan. Working with video, performance, and installation, he draws from personal experiences, including family anecdotes, his arts education, and daily encounters and occurrences. Many of his works stress collectivity and participation as part of their development, engaging with and critiquing teaching and learning systems, and exploring how knowledge can be gathered through everyday experience as much as through academic settings.
Hiwa K has recently exhibited his work at Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach (2021); Kunsthalle Mannheim (2019); S.M.A.K. Museum, Ghent (2018); New Museum, New York (2018); and KW Institute of Contemporary Art, Berlin (2017). He has participated in group exhibitions including the 56th Venice Biennale (2015); documenta 14, Kassel (2017); Yinchuan Biennale (2018); Asian Art Biennial, Taipei (2019); Contemporary Art Biennial Sesc_ Videobrasil, São Paulo (2019); Anren Biennale, Sichuan (2019); and MoMA PS1, New York (2019). The artist was awarded the 2019 Hector Prize and, in 2016, the Arnold Bode Prize and the Schering Stiftung Award.
Hiwa K: Do you remember what you are burning? is an exhibition conceived as a three-venue collaboration with the artist Hiwa K by Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai; Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin; and The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto.