Iraqi-Dutch visual artist Nedim Kufi was forced to leave his hometown of Baghdad in 1990 following the chaos of the First Gulf War. His series ‘Absence’ explores the notion of exile and of loss, of a home beyond reach and of the people left behind.
I present here two inseparable images, exemplifying one existence, which tell the story of a departing homeland and of my resettlement away from it. The setting of the image was once our home in Kufa during the 1960s. The first image was created by my father, which he took with his dark red-box camera, and the second is of my creation, which I have modified with Photoshop as an unrestrained expression of my feelings of emptiness and banishment. Nearly forty years separate the two images, and by this act of remembrance, I am attempting to recollect that moment in time; emotionally, intellectually and qualitatively.
Whilst the situation in my country, Iraq, which I now watch from a distance, is deteriorating day after a day, there remains a virtual and concurrent existence between the two images, marking that daunting distance. It expresses the disconnection between the home of my childhood and that of my expatriation. Omitting my persona from the first image would, I think, be unique, if taken as a serious visual drama, an expression to help me reach closure by translating my hidden feelings during a lengthy period of loss and despair. I do not, however, think that this portrays my case only; it is the condition of every migrant departing his homeland, either willingly or forcefully, going astray into the unknown. -
My suggestion here is of an imaginary space, within which I might be able to acknowledge the plethora of illusions and obsessions which have occupied my mind, and which have brought me forward towards a serious search within this imaginary space. My question throughout the search has been: “Who omits whom?” After such a prolonged absence from my homeland, and after missing finding the way back, “home” became in my view, no more than an image empty of its prima facie content, flimsy as the word “missing,” now so commonly circulated in Iraq. - in the artist’s own words via arab review