The text in the painting reads the lyrics of a traditional Iraqi folk song: “Those who have forgotten us, when will you remember us? When will we cross your mind? When will you help our situation? Love, you have left us with no explanation; you shut the doors in our face and abandoned us. Where did you come from on the day you set your eyes on us? Where did you find us? Your eyes have scarred us. You who have forgotten us, when will you remember us?”
Sundus Abdul Hadi is an Iraqi artist based in Montreal, Canada. Video by Echo (Sada). Since the chaos ensued from the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, Iraqi musicians and intellectuals have been under constant threat of kidnapping and death from various militias operating within the country. According to the Iraqi Artists’ Association, nearly 80 percent of Iraqi singers have fled their country and at least 75 singers have been killed since the invasion and occupation began in 2003. There are thousands of Iraqi musicians, writers, composers, and other intellectuals living in exile in Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and elsewhere. Some of them had already been exiled by the Ba’ath regime. This particular painting visually emulates “hostage videos” and cross-references their composition with that of a traditional Iraqi “Chalghi” band posing for a photograph.