Sophia's Peace Work

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mongo Pomegranates Appear in Sulaimani

Over the last year a new phenomenon has appeared in the city of Sulaimani. Huge apples and pomegranates have been showing up all over the city ... as if dropped from some celestial tree. They are all basically the same size and shape and made out of some cement-type material (as is everything in Iraq these days).

I first spotted them on the airport road into town ... dotting the median strip ... a big green apple and a bright red pomegranate. They were a welcome sight in a landscape that often appears like a cross between a lunar landscape and a, I'm sorry to say, garbage dump. Aleast someone put some effort into making a piece of art and, I thought, a pretty good one.

But then dozens showed up in Park Azadi (the local park down the street where I run in the morning) but these appeared more like poor production copies and had convenient seat-shaped chunks cut out of them ... showing the bright red, pulpy seeds (these are, in case you wanted to know, called arils in a pomegranate) ... at least until you get up close to examine the paint job.

Then one day I stumbled on the mother-load ... in a building behind the passport office (where I had to renew my residence in a curiously Kafkaesque procedure requiring running around between half a dozen offices filled with tea-inebriated civil servants). There I spied over a dozen of these massive fruits (all essentially identical in size and shape but painted to represent the different types of fruit ... there were even a few painted as watermelons). They were lined up like little soldiers about to march off into the city streets. No doubt to make the place safe for civic arts in Kurdistan-Iraq (and just when I was celebrating the removal of that god-awfully misshapen statue at the entrance to town showing a kneeling woman breaking the chains that bound her hands ... it was removed for a road construction project ... my apologies to the artist but it looked like it had been created by a class of kindergarten students).

Well, art is in the eye of the beholder and I'm happy to see an effort but I find myself wishing that the people here could see the beauty that they have covered up in garbage or spent time hiding under stupidly-conceived cement monstrosities. I wish they could find a way to simply uncover and protect that. Sulaimani might then be a real work of art.


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