Zghal (selected by Olu Oguibe),
Page 7 from Cultures of War: An Essay
2005, Accordion book, mixed-media
12 x 16 inches
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ABOUT THE WORK
This succession of quotes is an essay. The texts are copied from books
and accented by drawings, collage and written comments. The text is wrapped
in marks and indications of what comes to mind when reading. In it I tried
to come to terms with the culture I now live in. And through the words
of its writers and leaders I do reflect on the aspects and values of culture
that in my mind allowed war.
War fuels rage: violent incontrollable anger [page 1]. Lies are an easy
sell to a monolingual society with limited ability to imagines the world
beyond itself [page 2]. As war is waged against human life and for power,
it is waged against knowledge, the pleasure of art and ideas [page 3].
It is an act of play [page 4], an assertion of strength over the other
[page 5] who remains essentially ignored.
The cultural elite, though opposed to the cruel manifestation of power
is reluctant to question itself and its role in perpetuating a culture
of superiority and racism. They happily rage in a vacuum [page 6].
The poor people of color in Haiti, Congo, Iraq or Harlem are of no interest
[page 7]. At best the natives are pitied. Charity gives a moral face to
an unjust system [page 8]. This pattern of charity, pity and bigotry is
manifested in the circles of high culture as noted by Baldwin… The
liberal intellectual elite readily congratulates themselves for including
natives in their ranks but often fail to grasp the aspirations of those
very people [page 9].
These are some reflections that I render by borrowing the words of Americans:
Alexander, Alcalay, Ahmed, Mikhail, Sontag, Baldwin, Chomsky and Mother
Jones, acknowledging their contribution and the hope they represent not
only for their country but also for to the rest of the world lined-up
on the itinerary of the pressure roller. And in the words of the Urdu
poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz[page 10], I hope that this bleeding poem will someday
be revealed to you.