Moon Calendar

Documentation of the rehearsals for an unrealized performance at The Red Security building, 2007 The rehearsals for an unrealized dance performance took place during a visit to Amna Souraka, The Red Security Building, in northern Iraq.

This building complex used to be one of the infamous jails where Saddam Hussein detained the political prisoners and today it hosts the Iraqi National Museum of War Crimes.

Hiwa K tap-dances in the premises of Amna Souraka to the rhythm of his own heart beat that he follows by listening through a stethoscope. With the increasing intensity of the dance, the speed of the feet and that of the heart lose simultaneity and chase each other in a beat and counter-beat discordant pulsation. The rhythm of the heart isolates the artist from the surroundings thus creating a private and hidden space for his own thoughts. The ludic dimension of the dance allows for a state of denial that makes trauma absent while still being present in the place.

By focusing on the rhythmic dimension of the movement and the beat, the piece generates a semantic slippage that allows for a reflection on time and temporality. The reference to the lunar calendar opens to a different understanding of the passing of time and hence triggers a shift in the perception of the events.

Moon Calendar leads the viewer to a lateral understanding of the unspoken events which happened in the Red Security Building. Through a decentralisation of the prominence and the possible banality of the emotional engagement, it hints at the past but never reveals it, thus offering a counter-narrative space of reflection.

Following Hiwa K’s words, "this performance has the potential to transform the space in which it occurs. The version shot in Germany [for Manifesta 7] relates more to my connection to the audience. The one shot in Saddam Hussein’s former security building in Iraq is very different. Although the video only shows a rehearsal, since the performance never took place, the viewer reads the work through the context of historical events."

Written with: Francesca Recchia