Rebeen Hamarafiq

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CIMAM 2021 Rebeen Hamarafiq, Artist, Curator, Researcher, Directory of Fine Art, Sulaymaniyah, Iraq.

In 2021, 50 contemporary art curators, researchers, and museum professionals from 32 different countries were awarded support to attend the CIMAM 2021 Annual Conference, in-person and online.

For the first time, and thanks to the generous support of The Getty Foundation who sponsored the virtual platform, 27 grantees attended the conference online, while 23 attended onsite.

Launched in 2005, CIMAM’s Travel Grant Program is designed to foster cooperation and cultural exchange between contemporary art curators and museum directors in emerging and developing economies and their counterparts in other regions of the world.

Rebeen Hamarafiq's and Asli Samadova's Conference Report

The name of the conference was coming in perfect timing. At the same time, migrants were waiting on the border of Poland, to enter Europe. Pressures of the world force humans to leave their home country and to relocate or by other means become immigrants. We don’t know if it was, by accident or agreement that most of the migrants were Kurds from Iraq.

At the same time, I did apply for the travel grant, without the problems of the migrants at the Polish border being that much on the eye of media, but my participation transformed to an online and virtual visit to the exhibitions. Without enough explanation on why this happened. Even though I was part of the NOMUS exhibition as well. The fear that divides the world still has the biggest impact on how the rest of the world want to relocate to Europe for better living or to have dual citizenship to travel freely, our conception of globally living are human mindset at the same time it controls what we want and forces us to build a standard to act according to this standards. Some of the new migrants are not the families that escaping poverty, as Dipesh Chakrabarty claimed that: (the world never lived in such well-being condition) but rather escaping a cultural circumstance, or rather escaping the future that is about to come, rather than the present they live in. for the pessimistic messages that spread in Kurdistan are destroying all the hopes and dreams of the future of individuals and their children. This is opposite to the big promises that come from the western world. Uncertain vision and rupture and shock after another in Kurdistan lead to individuals living at the present without any certain future and of course a history full of pain. In other words, escaping being oppressed and becoming on the oppressor’s side of the world.

Sustainability is a key factor for museums and art collecting but to have the power to keep the differences without becoming under the influences of certain ideological policies. The decommunization in Ukraine in the speech by Oleksiy Radynski was another model but in a less extreme way than what we saw during the ISIS time, when the whole site of Nimrud has been destroyed, in a visit to the location with an artist Rozhgar Mustafa for performance and Sangar Abdullah for video and photo-documenting. I had to contact every person in the Iraqi authority to have a few hour visits to the site. Even we are Iraqi by citizenship but still, the access needed a huge amount of work, all official governmental efforts had a closed-end until we had to find some influential person inside Hashd Alshaby to arrange the visit. and we have to have three persons online with us checking our location rapidly. In this area, the original residents were Sunnie with ties to ISIS. The main idea is that we are living in an area that traveling between two cities of the same country does have a higher risk than travelling through Belarus to Poland cultures in Iraq are more in danger inside Iraq with all the complicities that brought to the area.

And that more the peoples are alienated to their home country and the more they forced to become part of dirty political games, the more this desire for immigrating will raise at least to relocate their Identity but none of them could erase their history even they relocated geographically. During the Kurdish internal conflict of between 1994 to 1999 with the consciences extending until our day. Traveling from Sulaymaniyah to Erbil was much harder than traveling to Iran or even some time to the rest of the world.

Kurdish Internal struggles had a great force on reshaping cultural Identity, many cultural figures became part of this ugly struggle between two parts of the fight. In a Facebook post during the conference, (I was translating some key ideas to Kurdish) in translating the Jaroslaw Suchan statement about culture In Poland how the accumulation of bad practice accepted over years resulted in the present situation, and some other key states about how cultural positions are treated as trophies and given to the supporters of the winning parties. I removed Poland from the statement deliberately and at the end, I wrote this is about Poland don’t mix it with other places in the world. But most of my friends missed this last part of the announcement and congratulated me on my deep vision of culture in Kurdistan Iraq.

This mixture of not knowing which place the statement is about has a message: that with all the division that we are making to our world we still have many shared problems and struggles ahead of us and we have to deal with them together.

In the dialogue section with (Dipesh Chakrabarty), he gave notice to how more and more parts of the world are adopting western ways of living and course more and more participating in the destruction of our climate. My latest project is a six-month project (Are we Addicted?) supported by Goethe Institute in Iraq and the Culture Factory (the old cigarette factory) with many other art projects in or about the pace. the question was more about our modern ways of living how we become accustomed to certain ways of living, habits that are killing our Creativity the relation is more like an addiction rather than normal human behaviors. The project ended with an Exhibition (Maps of Control) the exhibition was an insight into different lyres of control operating on cities and urban living, starting with occupying of the hills and domination of the mosques to the works of Hito Steyerl how not to be seen. Another global controlling machine is through pixels. The aim of my contribution to the Culture factory project was to rase acritical view during the transformation process. And how the place not becoming a platform for nationalistic, racist, dictator forms of art and culture to build what Irrit Rogoff call embedded criticality. Because this place will become the biggest cultural project in the city and maybe in Iraq as well. The question of representation has to be a central point in its strategy. And how to be aware of (crisis of democratic institutions. Post-representational politics) from the speech of T. J. Demos.

Other ways of living are interrupted so rapidly that there is no way to escape the unhealthy transition toward western ways of living. Even the global that we share and must contain differences, but homogenization with its danger is destroying the other possible ways of living and cultures. Every time different societies try to depend on their local recourses and establish different models on the global map, they will cause a rupture intrudes that manipulates the efforts. We as cultural workers are building hopes around institutions to build trust around human thoughts and to enforce the values that are precious to our being and Identity.