Hiwa K was born in Sulaymaniyah in Kurdistan, Iraq, in 1975. His sculptures, videos, and performances slyly weave together anecdotes from friends and family members with his biography. As a Kurdish Iraqi and immigrant to Germany, Hiwa K draws from personal memories to tell stories of our ongoing global crises: war, migration, and the effects of neoliberalism and colonialism. Documenting with video, the artist inserts himself into his works, which often involve participatory dimensions (such as group cooking classes, musical performances, and political protests) and collaborations with a wide cast of players, from Iraqi philosophers to Venetian metal casters. Largely self-taught, his multidisciplinary approach draws upon his peer-to-peer education in Iraq as well as his musical training under the Flamenco master, Paco Peña.
Hiwa K’s work explores the in between spaces, his sense of belonging, and the exchanges between Western and Middle Eastern cultures. Many of the artist’s works critique institutional systems, such as art education and professionalization, and the tension between the individual and the collective.
Hiwa K attended the Akademie der Bildende Kunst in Mainz, Germany, and was a guest student at Städelschule Frankfurt. His awards include the Arnold Bode Prize (2016); Schering Stiftung Art Award (2016); Kunstfonds Grant (2015); and Goethe Institut Grant (2014). He has had major exhibitions at the New Museum (2018, 2014); Documenta 14 (2017); KW Institute for Contemporary Art (2017); Venice Biennale (2015); La Triennale in Paris (2012); Serpentine Gallery (2012); and Manifesta 7 (2008). Hiwa K lives and works in Berlin.
All three episodes from the latest season of Art21’s “Art in the Twenty-First Century” series are now streaming in full from Art21.org and through PBS streaming apps.
A new season of the Peabody Award-winning “Art in the Twenty-First Century” series arrives this Friday with back-to-back premiere episodes—”Johannesburg” and “Berlin”—starting at 9:00 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).
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“The works I do is very much about reminding how many fingerprints we have onto each other, how much we are embedded into each other.”