It is a story of metamorphosis, of the logistics of war and of supply chains that have nothing to do with consumer goods that is told in the two films making up Hiwa K’s video installation Nazhad and The Bell Making. For the work, the Berlin-based artist returned to his roots in northern Iraq. One element of the two-channel video installation is a twenty-five-minute film about the Kurdish entrepreneur Nazhad who melts down scrap metal in northeastern Iraq to sell it in standard form all over the world. He acquires the raw material for his business from the remains of the Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988) and both Gulf Wars (1991, 2003), most of which comes from the United States, Germany, Italy, China, Japan, and Russia. Parallel to this, a thirty-five-minute film on the production of a bell in a workshop in northern Italy is also shown. The camera follows several men as they cast the bell from the material that comes from Nazhad’s smelting operation. History is turned on its head. For centuries, church bells were melted down over and over again to make cannons whenever metal became scarce and material losses were great. The dichotomies of war and peace, of the holy and profane, of East and West are revealed. Logistics stands in the middle, neither point A nor point B. It makes the export of war possible and must now live with the crime of complicity.
The Bell Project, 2007-2015
2 channel video installation, SD & HD Video, 35:25 min and 25:29 min