Sada, meaning “echo” in Arabic, was conceived as Sada for Iraqi art by the Baghdad-born Rijin Sahakian. Sahakian set up the initiative, which ran from 2011 to 2015, in order to support Baghdad-based artists facing the damage done to the contemporary art infrastructure in Iraq after cycles of war, destruction, sanctions, and continual political insecurity.
Sahakian used a network of resources from the local context, region, and further afield to provide space of critical thinking and making. As she suggests, “Sada harnessed relational and digital networks that could be accessed by those who were creating through this transformative period of Iraq’s (and the world’s) conditions for living.”
For documenta fifteen, Sahakian invited former participants of Sada to produce video work reflecting on their practice and where they are today. The participating artists are Sajjad Abbas, Bassim Al Shaker, Layth Kareem, Ali Eyal, Raed Mutar, Sarah Munaf, and Sahakian herself. The videos have been compiled into an anthology film to screen at and beyond the 100 days of the exhibition in Kassel.
This particular form was chosen to produce a visualization of Iraqi from artists who were committed to working through the aftermath of American-led wars and occupation. The participants raise important questions as to how artists survive in the aftermath of US-led wars and occupation, with minimal supportive infrastructures, inclusion in regional and critical dialogues, or opportunities for the development of their practice.
Bassim Al Shaker