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War

Invasion
Artist's statement on what he saw on "Road to Baghdad"

Reza Karimi
July 8, 2004
iranian.com

If an artist produces his art in favor of any government policy, either his or others, he could be considered a puppet of that government. However, any decision any government makes on policy, is the responsibility of any artist to show the effect of that policy on people.

It was late April of 2003 and I had just returned from Portugal, Spain and Morocco. The war in Iraq was in the midst of heated combat. The news in Europe, which I saw on the Al-Jazeera TV and in the newspapers, was heart breaking. The pictures of civilians and children being bombed, was devastating. It was much different than the news in the US.

On that night, at about 1:30 am, I woke up from a nightmare about these events. What was going on? I turned on the TV and I was watching a program entitled “Road to Baghdad”. I will never forget what I saw that night. How the US soldiers were screaming loudly, kicking the door of a poor residential house and entering a man's residence.

The head of the household, obviously an Arab, who couldn't speak any English, appeared from his poor quarters, fearing for his family's life, trying to tell the soldiers, pointing to his mouth, that they are eating, but in reality, they were covering their heads with scarves in order to come out (some Moslem religious women cover there hair in front of men).

Cultural clash! The US soldiers didn't speak Arabic, nor were they familiar with the Arab culture. And the Arab family didn't speak any English. Seeing these terrifying looking aliens, heavily armed strangers, invading their house and shouting, “Come on out, hands up.”

A line of family members, starting from the father, his wife, oldest son (maybe 13-years-old), daughter and her 2 little brothers came out of their living quarters, kneeling down in the yard outside their residence with their hands up.

I have never seen a man fear so much for his family. His wife's face, terrified for her children. The two little boys were in the state of confusion and fear, the older son observing the whole situation. The young girl's face had so much fear that silent tears were covering her beautiful eyes, while her lips and her childish cheeks were quivering.

Fortunately, the soldiers realized their awful act and, as I recall, even the TV broadcaster said, “I didn't like that at all,” repeating it several times.

That night was one of the most awful memories I have; I'm thinking how men are the cruelest, most vicious animals when dealing with each other.

It took me almost a year to compose the painting titled "Invasion". Showing human fears, without showing the invaders, showing family unity and the road of consequence -- that is what I tried to depict.

What is the effect of these horrific actions on this family? What are the psychological ramifications on these children in the near future? Maybe the old man has passed the age of revenge, the mother tries only to protect her children, the two boys were too young to really digest everything, the young girl will always be fearful of men and the older son (13 years old?) who observed everything from the distance, will always remember late April of 2003 when his country and his father's house were invaded.

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