Rijin Sahakian
10 October 2019


Event as part of the exhibition Rheim Alkadhi: Majnoon Field


4 p.m.
Curatorial Workshop: (to participate please register here:
The global art world and market are marching steadily towards rarity - to become either an artist or a buyer/collector requires ever more funds and access, whether it is going to art school or acquiring a piece, at the precise time that calls for “decolonization” of the arts and more “socially engaged” and “inclusive” programming resound. But what does it mean to be more “inclusive” if equitable opportunities for artists is shrinking just as opportunities to view art, or participate in an institutions programs, expands? Is this equity, or a wider reign for fewer, increasingly elite voices. What explorations are lost when the undergirding of artistic production (artschool, studio space, mentorship, travel, community) becomes further out of reach for more than a select few? What work, if any, can curator’s do to address and raise this as an impediment to the progression of the arts and institutions as exploratory worlds? This will be discussed in part through Sahakian’s work in American and Iraqi fields of production, exhibition, and development as they pertain to the problematics of funding, artistic selection, and the misnomer of “representation” and “political art.”

Rijin Sahakian: On the Closing of Sada for Contemporary Iraqi Art

The Tear Gas Biennale: A statement from Hannah Black, Ciarán Finlayson, and Tobi Haslett regarding Warren Kanders and the 2019 Whitney Biennial

Jessica Winegar: The Humanity Game: Art, Islam, and the War on Terror

The Growth of the Art World in the Middle East: From Collecting to Museum Development



7 p.m.
Lecture: (public lecture, no registration needed)
Rijin Sahakian will address the formidable uses in discourse and image making to further acceptance and mystification of war-making power and the wide-ranging ramifications of violence as an act, ideology, and research methodology, as seen through the Gulf Wars and their after-effects. This will be examined in the context of American productions on Iraq as well as global art world strategies as they relate to the Gulf region and its rising profile. The parallels and uses of visual media and text in military and cultural arenas as a valuable producer of narratives of the US and the Gulf will be explored through key examples from the early 90s to the present. This lecture is presented as part of Rheim Alkadhi’s exhibition, Majnoon Field, which will be discussed as a break in the continuum of the aforementioned strategies, one that takes the use of the sublime as a tool of psychological operations for the acceptance of war, and subverts this use as one that radically communicates the sublime experience of being, of experiencing life within an Iraqi materiality.

Rijin Sahakian is a writer and arts organizer. Sahakian received her MA in Cultural Policy from New York University, and founded Sada, a nonprofit project conducting arts education, advocacy, and production programs serving Baghdad-based artists, which she directed until its closure in spring 2015. She has conducted seminars and programs at arts and education spaces in the US and abroad including Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan, marra.tein. in Beirut, Lebanon, and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, where she curated Shangri La: Imagined Cities and co-edited the accompanying book with Mostafa Heddaya. Sahakian has contributed writing to a range of artist projects and publications including Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, Hyperallergic, Jadaliyya, Warscapes, and e-flux journal.


1 —  Rheim Alkadhi: Majnoon Field Samples, 2019