Women on the reserve bench
Inspired by the accumulation of rubbish left on the streets of the country, cause for concern and confusion for its inhabitants, Akeel Khreef converts waste into works of art and presents them to the public by means of contemporary art to transmit aesthetic philosophy meanings. He says that beauty is everywhere, even in the waste that we see every day. There is no ugliness in nature but that which is human-induced.
His last work highlights the issue of women in the Arab society who live isolated and are prevented from participating in the society, both at a social and a cultural level. The absence of women in the public scene, due to the rule of patriarchalism, shows how tensioned our nations have become. If women were given the opportunity to contribute and engage actively in the development of the society, the conditions of these countries would strikingly improve since women foster peace, tolerance and love.
This artwork that resembles a reserve bench represents symbolically the exclusion of women from social public life. Women are treated as decoration items that stand aside passively and are not given the possibility to take part in determining the practices and the values of the political and social environment where they live. Khreef believes that a step forward should be taken to promote a shift from the concept of confinement that lies behind the image of the reserve bench to the empowerment of women. Arab countries, unlike developed countries, push aside women, in order to weaken them and contain their strength.
Akeel Khreef, an Iraqi-based artist, born in Baghdad in 1979, attained his Bachelor degree in drawing from the Faculty of Baghdad in 2010. He participated in the 2013 Venice Biennale Festival in the contemporary Iraqi wing (“Welcome in Iraq”), exhibited in the South London Gallery in 2014, took part in a joint exhibition (“Under the maps and the remnants of the name”) of the Iraqi Cultural Center in London and held a solo exhibition in Baghdad (“Birth defects”) in 2016. Besides, the Iraqi Ministry of the Environment holds a permanent exhibition of his works in Baghdad. Khreef is currently working with the teaching staff of the Department of Architecture at the Mustansiriya University College of Engineering.