About the Photographer
Iraqi Kurdish, b. 1975
Hiwa K is a multimedia artist and musician working in performance, photography, and video. The image in the collection of the MoCP, Diagonal (2009), was photographed in Amna Souraka in Sulaymaniya, Iraqi Kurdistan. Amna Souraka was a prison infamous for torture that served as the northern headquarters of the Iraqi Intelligence Service starting in the early 1980s under Saddam Hussein’s rule. It is known as the “Red Security” for the color of its walls and is now home to a war crimes museum. In Diagonal Hiwa K is posing on a watchtower that fell when the Kurdish Peshmerga (armed fighters) liberated Amna Souraka in 1991, appearing to push the tower over while mimicking the oblique angle of the ruin. Diagonal may be read through the historical context of Amna Souraka, engaging the architecture as a means of conjuring the trauma of the past, while also evoking personal memories for the artist of the site from growing up in Sulaymaniya.
Born in Sulaymaniya in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1975, Hiwa K completed a diploma in visual arts under Vladimir Spacek at the Akademie der Bildende Kunst in Mainz, Germany (2009), and studied with Simon Starling at Städelschule Frankfurt, Germany. Hiwa K has exhibited internationally, including at Kunsthaus Dresden, Germany (2006); the United Nations Plaza, Berlin, Germany (2007); Manifesta 7, Bolzano, Italy (2008); Het Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (MuHKa), Antwerp, Belgium (2009); the Showroom, London, UK (2010); and Viennafair, Kunstbuero, Vienna, Austria (2011). In 2009 he completed a residency at the The Centre for Possible Studies, Serpentine Gallery, London, UK. His work is held in the collections of Het Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (MuHKa) in Antwerp, Belgium, and the Wyspa Institute of Art in Gdańsk, Poland, among other institutions. He co-curated the exhibition Estrangement, which opened in May 2011 as part of the Alternativa International Visual Arts Festival in Gdańsk, Poland, with Aneta Szylak of the Wyspa Institute of Art in Gdańsk. Hiwa K has lived in Germany as a political refuge since 2002.