A Symbolic State of Affairs

In a particular hour of the day during which an odd phenomena happens: daylight gives way to a liminal shade of blue through which one cannot tell - neither by perception nor instinct - whether the day is turning to night or whether it is the night that is ending by arrival of a new dawn. The factual passage of time becomes deceptive to the mind by the limitations of one’s own sensorial perceptions. It is through such extraordinary expressions of nature that one begins to grasp the realness of events, and that such ambiguities are the accumulated knowledge of collective agreement on an arithmetic of the hours of the day. Otherwise, one is inexorably left to the capricious and non-cohesive nature of all beings and things. Similarly, one could question the reliability of one’s own sensorial perception of an acquired knowledge on the flow of time (which in turn make up - at least a structural portion of - history), and that all other observed events, both internal and external ties and affairs, might be based on the same principal of nature’s inconsistent expression of things and beings in which all external affairs (persona) and internal affairs (anima) are, either by instinctual impulses or full knowledge, performing an eternal ritual in which man attempts to establish a social fabric as confirmation of the existential state of our being. This eternal performing ritual to establish a collective agreement upon various ideologies, complex customs, and communication forms results in an utmost complicated state of being in which both form and content are in continuous flux: the meaning of everything, hence, is interchanging. In this solo show, Nedim Kufi presents a new body of work that conceptually reflects his own internal and external ambiguities both in the expression and perception of the world around him while both forming and weaving the fabric of daily popular culture. Nedim’s takes a hyper-honest approach to show his world, one that is both ‘of the East’ yet devoid of any exotic notions, making it all the more striking to the viewer. Nedim presents a unique series of works that attempt to remember a time in which ‘the Orient’ was synonymous with development and prosperity for the Middle Class. Perhaps that very memory could be a vision of a time yet to make its graceful return, restoring in its wake the original beauty of what is called ‘the Orient’. Being reflective on both external affairs (persona) as well as the internal affairs (anima), Nedim presents his latest works as equanimous visual responses to the flow of affairs that can only be marked as a symbolic of things or perhaps an outright symbolic state of affairs.

curator & text : Mo Reda


I present here two inseparable images, exemplifying one existence, which tell the story of a departing homeland and of my resettlement away from it. The setting of the image was once our home in Kufa during the 1960s. The first image is that of my father, which he took with his dark red-box camera, and the second is of me, which I have modified with Photoshop as an unrestrained expression of my feelings of emptiness and banishment. Nearly forty years separate the two images, and by this act of remembrance, I am attempting to recollect that moment in time; emotionally, intellectually and qualitatively. Whilst the situation in my country, Iraq, which I now watch from a distance, is deteriorating day after a day, there remains a virtual and concurrent existence between the two images, marking that daunting distance. It expresses the disconnection between the home of my childhood and that of my expatriation. Omitting my persona from the first image would, I think, be unique, if taken as a serious visual drama, an expression to help me reach closure by translating my hidden feelings during a lengthy period of loss and despair. I do not, however, think that this portrays my case only; it is the condition of every migrant departing his homeland, either willingly or forcefully, going astray into the unknown. My suggestion here is of an imaginary space, within which I might be able to acknowledge the plethora of illusions and obsessions which have occupied my mind, and which have brought me forward towards a serious search within this imaginary space.My question throughout the search has been, "Who omits whom?" After such a prolonged absence from my homeland, and after missing finding the way back, "home" became in my view, no more than an image empty of its prima facie content, flimsy as the word "missing", now so commonly circulated in Iraq.In my longing, I have dreamt up fantastic plans to get out of the isolation I feel, away from my motherland, and to enter it once more through a loophole that has not been noticed by others. Thus, I have struggled to look through "that inside eye", as in a time machine, and to roam through that time in the past, for which I long. As for the feeling of emptiness, I am now discovering the truth about it. It is so painful to merge an existing moment with a past one after the passage of more than forty years, even though to do so is suffused with a sense of energy, calmness and a breath of fresh air. The melodious voice of Umm Kulthum coming from that radio on the shelf, and that of the birds, filling the backyard of our house, with their echo thudding deep in my heart, and the shine that glimmers in that image. The purpose in my mind outruns that in my eyes, which is to freeze these two moments as I stand confused in the middle. Be cautious! My idea here is not necessarily imaginary, and is not a reflection of the anguish of homesickness and nostalgia, which I have overcome with time without any bargains. It is, however, a real and deep awareness which can, through artistic expression and creativity, reach remote islands of happiness and relief within the mind. My purpose is to find a pure space of value in times long gone, that surpasses the value of the present. A comprehensive look at such questions leads to such an answer as: ‘Omission, as seems, is the first and last solution. Nedim Kufi Amsterdam May,10, 2010


The concepts of 'Home' and 'Displacement' have been explored by Nedim Kufi in a different, more utilitarian manner. Kufi presents a unique concept for a type of recessed dwelling, part of the artist’s interest in offering an urban habitation solution for his homeland, Iraq. For those whose ‘missing homes’ can only be replaced, Kufi’s designs ensure that all residents will enjoy equality below the ground. The relationship between earth and sky, and the cool and peaceful bunker-like security of the underground home, were Kufi’s inspiration. Mapped over these structural models, the artist depicts a lost generation of fellow students he knew from his youth in 1970’s Baghdad, the era he refers to as Iraq's ‘golden age’. Drawn from Kufi’s own dusty photographs, the identity of his youthful subjects is intentionally prolonged in his new work, even as their images fade away in ageing negatives. Kufi transposes these young people as the potential owners of these 'Nether Homes', whose faces leave permanent imprints on the structures independent of any physical experience of the space. “God knows where those kids are right now... are they still alive? Are the homes that I am creating just a maze? In my mind, these pictures, and their structures, represent a longing for tolerance, acceptance and (above all) equality in a country that in recent years has known so little of these things. ” In addition to the ‘Nether Home’ structures, Kufi presents a series of photographs of the Palestinian residents of Jaffa during the 1930’s. The photographs originally appeared in a book by the Dutch photographer Frank Scholten, who travelled in Palestine and was inspired by the simple lives of the residents to document their lives. Discovering the book by chance in a second-hand store, Kufi was moved to transpose real Dutch flowers, which he found pressed and dried between the pages of the book, onto Scholten's images to preserve this cultural juxtaposition. Here evidence of the Jaffa residents' existence is now framed within the perception of those who never knew them in a relationship that simultaneously affirms and subverts the Orientalist notion of 'the Other'.

Sumarria Lunn Gallery - London

Wisdom machine

We want to be exposed to a form of wisdom that has never been expressed. Our machine continually produces sentences, or rather a sentence composed of randomly arranged words. They sometimes make sense, and sometimes they do not, but they are always convincing. The machines unfamiliar murmur generates copyright-free thoughts. You will read these words of wisdom for the first and the last time. We have also developed a programmed that generates mental images. Phrases flow out of reservoir of words.

Nedim Kufi & Talal Refit

Try Wisdom machine

Images spread instantaneously and appear to be the only evidence required to render an event credible and immediate. Seeing believes, and yet images still manage to overwhelm our imagination, our belief in reality. The realization that images are not merely the objects of a non-media reality but instead create their own realities has become an integral part of the ability to read contemporary images. The visual immediacy of political events, the politicization of images and their uncontrollable speed of circulation have led to intense reflection in contemporary art on the power and status of the image.

Project with Talal Refit | Institute de mond Arab - PARIS | Abu Dhabi Festival - UAE


A magazine is a quarterly bilingual Arabic/English publication with the intention of filling a gaping hole in the arts and culture coverage of the Middle East, North Africa and its Diaspora. It is an art and cultural magazine with high demands on content. It focuses on topical art and socio-political debates, aesthetic questions and information on arts and culture in Europe, Middle East and North Africa. High-calibre authors from both banks will make the magazine a forum for information and dialogue with and within the Arab cultural area. Daftar’s Work Programme will be a not-for-profit curatorial organization dedicated to supporting contemporary artists from the Middle East, managed by a group of curators, editors and artists based in Middle East and Europe. We will commission and curate artists' projects, exhibitions, and educational events, usually working in collaboration with local organizations and practitioners. The Dafter Library a collection of catalogues, books, artists' books, and sound/film projects,

The Iraqi Equation, project of Catherine David - KW - Berlin | Tapies Foundation - Barcelona | Kuf-Mold - Sweden

curated by artists, which will be developed as a touring, 'pop-up' resource; a course of Arabic/English workshops on writing about art, designed to encourage critical debate in the Middle East and North Africa; as well as curated film programs and performances. Daftar’s work programme that occupies a place between theory and practice. . It will include seminars, publications, performances and presentations of works by various Arab and European cultural practitioners – visual artists, architects, film-makers, performers, musicians, writers, poets and intellectuals, as well as people from the social and political spheres. There will also be a range of workshops that will explore works of art and artistic practice. Daftar e-magazine was a monthly publication founded in 2004 with the intention of filling a gaping hole in the arts and culture coverage of the Middle East and its Diaspora It was carried out by commitments of four cultural practitioners. We have produced 16 issues. Info-installation was created to take part in a tour exhibition The Iraqi Equation 2006, curated by Catherine David which took place in KW Berlin, Tapies foundation and Omia, Swede, : The structure of the organization: The exclusive director (you) and an administrator(Preferable a Creative Writer). The administrator will coordinate the Daftar organization, resources and programmes, and contribute to the effectiveness of the Daftar’s activities. The administrator will also responsible for the day-to-day running of the programme and company bookkeeping, and will work on specific projects and schemes whenever possible and appropriate.

The Iraqi Equation, project of Catherine David - KW - Berlin | Tapies Foundation - Barcelona | Kuf-Mold - Sweden