First, a few preliminary remarks on the subject of "threadbare" art space. The 1970s saw Western artists who were questioning the whole "system", and art's place there in particular, begin to move to into loft-like spaces in abandoned buildings. Looking for less neutral places and alternative spaces and exhibition opportunities, they began to create a new aesthetic opposed to the white cube, increasingly perceived as overly middle-class and often unsuited to the new installation forms and interaction with the public. In their search for alternative spaces and forms, the artists unwittingly became agents of residential gentrification in post-industrial areas. The exhibitions and their public attendance were gradually and inexorably followed by real estate agents, who got the message and started to promote operations to facilitate exhibitions in properties awaiting demolition or, more rarely, restoration. Civic governments, often short of money, also realised the potential and sponsored events, mostly in former industrial buildings they had been "lumbered with".
The case of the Iraqi pavilion is, however, one in which what the artists are saying and the space where they are doing it really are in tune with each other. The apartment evokes the destruction and abandon of war and the artists really do seem to be returning—not least because none of them lives in Iraq today—to an abandoned place and, despite everything, restoring some kind of form. The theme chosen by curator Mary Angela Schroth, 'Acqua ferita' (wounded water) is not pretentious—Iraq is the country of the great Tigris and Euphrates rivers, after all, and abundant oil, from which our civilisation stems—but rather accurate and highly relevant in various interpretations: water that is lacking, polluted water, disputed water, purifying water, bloody water and 'mother' water.
The theme chosen by curator Mary Angela Schroth, 'Acqua ferita' (wounded water) is not pretentious, but rather accurate and highly relevant in various interpretations: water that is lacking, polluted water, disputed water, purifying water, bloody water and 'mother' water.