vendredi 27 juillet 2007

LAHIB JADDO, an Iraqi Turkmen artist

Lahib Jaddo



The website of Lahib JADDO :

"My art is deeply rooted in my cultural heritage and family history."
My ancestry is 3/4 Turkumani and 1/4 Armenian

some of her paintings :


By Kippra D. Hopper
Born in Baghdad in 1955, Jaddo says her cultural roots rise from a place in northern Iraq called Kerkuk, the city of her mother’s family. Jaddo left the land of her birth when she was 10 years old, her family forced out by the threats to her father and other intellectuals under Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime. As an intellectual and a liberal, her father was one of the first engineers and among the first highly educated individuals in Iraq and was targeted by the Hussein regime as being a socialist and communist. The family moved to Beirut, Lebanon, another locale besieged by revolts and war, where Jaddo spent her teen years. In 1977, she moved to the United States as a newlywed and continued her education.

The artist had the opportunity in 2005 and 2006 to return to Iraq as a part of an educational exchange program between United States universities and institutions in northern Iraq. As an Associate Professor of Architecture at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Jaddo visited Salahadin University in Erbil, the Foundation Technology Institute in Kerkuk, the College of Engineering in Erbil, and the Institute of Applied Arts in Baghdad. When she returned she sought to document what she had observed in her native country and to explore visually the lost cultures of her ancestors and the war-torn state of her homeland.

The visit to Iraq evoked mystery for Jaddo as she wondered what she would see and how she would react, how she should dress, who she still would know there and whether she would feel like a foreigner. Her culture welcomed her work and her efforts in being a part of the creators of the first Turkumani University in North Iraq. Jaddo yearned to return to Iraq to view what was left of her family, heritage and home where her own art is foreign. She longed to see the remnants of places that in her mind still live and loom larger than life: the Citadel in Kerkuk; Tel-Afar, her father’s hometown; the hills of Mesopotamia; and the ziggurat of Samarra.

“My memories of my mother’s hometown of Kerkuk are vivid. I remember climbing the Citadel, walking alleys, reaching courtyard houses to visit my aunt in her ancestral home. I remember running up to the flat roof where they slept in the summer to see the city roof tops red with poppies from the spring rains. I remember my aunt slapping a huge circle of dough on the sides of her mud oven to make brown bread to feed us while chickens ran at her feet.”

Interweaving architecture in her art, Jaddo makes wood and stone into cultural signifiers, suggesting history, politics and personal identity. She uses the expressions of art, language and architecture to reclaim, recreate and reassert her own bicultural identity. Jaddo often uses text in her paintings to add another layer of communication and to transport a viewer to another part of the world.

In her many readings, Jaddo has discovered a 13th century Turkish poet Jalal Ud Deen Rumi, who wrote about being one with nature and finding satisfaction in life on Earth by considering oneself as part of the creatures upon it. This philosophy, Jaddo says, became her religion. When she came to Lubbock, she was determined to take in nature despite living in a city. “I wanted to watch the sunset. I was determined to get in touch with nature every day. I find new places to explore and hike. I read and I use poetry to help me to tell my stories.”

For example, in her paintings of the Citadel, the most prominent architectural feature in Kerkuk, the artist conveys a political message about rebuilding of the city; at the same time, she reflects on her mixed Turkumani and Armenian ancestry. Jaddo has lived among horse-drawn carriages, courtyard houses, mound cities on hills, and Turkmen people of northern Iraq. The Citadel, razed by Hussein in 1998, had been the focus of Turkmen social life, an expression of Turkmen culture and identity. In one of her most recent bodies of work, Jaddo uses Turkmen and the Citadel to assert, “We are ancient. We have been here a long time. We rise up from the earth. We are strong. We will last.”

Jaddo, a feminist, is a socially conscious artist. Her works are social commentaries about bridges between cultures and in her images of the links between interior/exterior, past/present, man/woman, she begins to dissolve dichotomies and the idea of bridging cultures is taken a step further. Her empowering images of Islamic womanhood shown in traditional garb are surrounded by studies of architecture, mysticism, nature and culture. The birds and butterflies that fill some of her works are colorful and bright reminders of optimism even in the face of loss. In some of her works set in beautiful landscapes of warmly colored canyons, deserts and huge, open skies.

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