The Red House is a series of 27 photographs of wall drawings and graphic marks made by Kurdish prisoners held in the former headquarters of Saddam Hussein’s Ba'athist party. After the 1991 Kurdish uprising this notorious place of incarceration and torture remained as a monument to the brutality of war.
Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin are visual storytellers, and The Red House is as much a curatorial and political work as it is a photographic one. The photographs appear to be dispassionate, artless, even forensic representations. Isolated and unique in the frame, there is no other visual information other than the “art” made by imprisoned Kurds. It is a poignant document of the prisoners’ individual creativity amidst the loneliness, fear, endless boredom, and ultimate horror of incarceration. These pictures will forever serve as evidence that pushed to unbearable extremes, the human spirit can, remarkably, manage to find its way to creativity, borne of the will to leave behind some sort of mark that might outlast the harsh realities of conflict.
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