Thursday, April 9, 2009

Baghdad marks 6th anniversary of its fall to US troops - Al Arabiya

As Iraq marks the sixth anniversary of the fall of its capital Baghdad to American troops on Thursday, Iraqi students search for a bright future in one of the world's most heavily armed nations.

In a display of industrial war art in Baghdad's green zone, a sculpture of a fish is made out of bullet casings; a flower is shaped from the twisted remains of a machine gun barrel; another depicts the Greek God Atlas, shown holding a wooden map of Iraq instead of shouldering the weight of the Earth.

The show is the work of graduate students at Baghdad University's College of Fine Arts, who decided to turn scrap from old guns and munitions into symbols of hope, as the specter of war recedes in Iraq.

A message to the world

"It's a message to the world that these pieces of equipment that bring death can be turned into things of beauty," says artist Ahmed Imad Aldeen, 27, at his small workshop in the fortified government and diplomatic compound.

"It's also an appeal to Iraq and the rest of the world that enough is enough. Enough of the killing," adds fellow artist Ali Hamid Mohammed.

The group of four students joined forces last year to create the pieces which are being displayed in a small room next to a green zone live shooting range.

Many of the dozens of sculptures for sale are abstract, but others, like a version of the famed bust of Egyptian queen Nefertiti, are immediately recognizable.

"When I see each weapon, they speak to me and tell me what they should be," says Aldeen.

The idea of turning munitions into art was first proposed by Zahim Jihad Mutar, head of a non-government Iraqi armament disposal group.

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