Reuters reports that the intellectuals and artists who have been courageous enough to remain in Iraq-and lucky enough to remain alive- are planning a widespread campaign to replace martial statues and monuments with art extolling the virtues of peace.
However, some in the intellectual and arts communities have reservations. An unnamed college art instructor expressed concern that the ongoing carnage wrought by militant violence would deter artists from participating. He is unnamed in the article because he lives in fear after having been personally threatened by militants.
The report mentions a recent piece he created which features 3 people chained to a wall in the ruins of a temple, symbolizing the current reality of Iraqis feeling chained captive by unrelenting violence and by the U.S. occupation.
Murtadha Hedad, a sculptor and professor at Baghdad University’s College of Fine Arts, maintained a sense of hope that the planned monument makeover would call Iraq back to it’s true roots. “We have a lot of ideas, like statues of intellectuals or writers, because Baghdad is the cradle of civilization,” Hedad said.
Given the anti-intellectual, anti-literary and anti-fine arts movement that has plunged the entire world into a Global War on Tolerance, one wonders if some of these Iraqi artists could be lured to work in safer locations where their vision is just as important and likely to be unimpeded by death threats. Maybe they could place their art in the places that need it just as much as Iraq, places that Iraq’s current occupiers call home.