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Eternal Love #4

Halim Al Karim

XVA Gallery


C print


This otherworldly portrait comes from Halim Al Karim’s Eternal Love series, of collodion wet plate photographs produced with a large, hand-built camera. In this one, the model’s face has been obscured and the source of light is nebulous, creating this phantasmagorical female figure swathed in red. Women in Al Karim’s work are often portrayed as goddesses or heroines, because the artist’s own life was saved by a Bedouin woman during three years hiding out in the Iraqi desert. There is also a discussion of privacy and identity at play here; perhaps the most treasured things in life need to be protected and hidden behind a veil?

Halim Al Karim was born in 1963 in Najaf, Iraq. He went on to study at the Baghdad Academy of Fine Arts and later the Gerrit Reitveld Academie in Amsterdam. During the first Gulf War in the early 1990s, Al Karim was drafted into the army but fled, hiding for three years in the desert, where he was brought food and water by a Bedouin woman. This experience greatly informs the themes in his work, which often show veiled women as goddesses or saviours. Al Karim was featured in the Iraqi Pavilion of the 54th Venice Biennale, and his works are in the collections of the Arab Museum of Contemporary Art in Doha, Qatar, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, among others. He lives and works between the USA and the UAE.

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