The Malwiya minaret of Samarra is a looming symbol in Walid Siti's new solo exhibition in Dubai.
Having left Iraq in the 1980s, escaping Baathist persecution by fleeing to the former Yugoslavia and then London, Siti has kept watch on the region’s shifting political developments from afar, with the ninth-century landmark becoming a symbol of power, or sometimes fragility, in his work.
Running until February 3, Fragile Construct at Meem Gallery features ink drawings, videos and sculptures with the Malwiya minaret playing a starring role.
Siti’s show also touches on aspects of Kurdish identity. His White Mountains painting, created in 2019, is a triptych that portrays the snow-capped peaks of Iraqi Kurdistan.
That and another painting, White Peaks, are tributes to the sanctuary the peaks offered the Kurds during years of persecution.
“It is a place of refuge, a source of water, trees and fruit,” Siti says. “A whole livelihood for Kurdish people. I tried to portray the mountains as a habitat for the Kurds.”