ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, 09|17|2011 – 02|05|2012
Halim Al-Karim
* 1963 in Najaf (IQ), lives and works in Denver (US) and in Dubai (AE)

Hidden Prisoner, 1993

Hidden Prisoner is part of the Hidden picture series, in which Halim Al-Karim works through his personal experiences during the first Gulf War. He concealed himself in a hole in the ground in the desert for almost three years to avoid being drafted into the Iraqi military. The photographic series artistically documents the impact made on Al-Karim when hiding as a means of survival. In the triptych Hidden Prisoner, the artist shows artifacts from ancient Sumer– the first advanced civilization in human history to flourish in present-day Iraq. He photographed the objects far away from home, locked behind glass in the Louvre and the British Museum: for the artist a painful reminder of visiting friends and family members in Abu Ghraib prison under the Saddam Hussein regime. With his work Al-Karim discloses that which would otherwise remain hidden from view – including the appropriation of foreign cultural goods – while at the same time protecting centuries-old artifacts by obscuring them from view, and depicting them as blurred. Hidden Prisoner contrasts the language and ideas of proximity and distance, home and exile, transience and eternity, war and humanity, and so prompts viewers to reflect on the various issues raised. (EA)


Hidden Prisoner
, 1993