Lawrie Shabibi is pleased to announce its first participation in the seventeenth edition of The Armory Show. The booth presentation will feature Canto III a new installation by New York-based Wafaa Bilal. Canto III is directly inspired by a tribute that the members of the Ba'ath party in Iraq planned in honour of their ruler, Saddam Hussein, at the height of his power: to propel a golden statue in his likeness into space to orbit Earth for all eternity. This absurd idea highlights the extremes the personality cult of Saddam Hussain reached before his downfall. This tribute never took place.
Bilal with Canto III, juxtaposes the larger-than-life man who was used as justification for a U.S. war, with the everyday realities of the American men who fought that war. Specifically, Bilal invited a handful of American veterans who served in Iraq to assist with the artwork's fabrication, for which they were compensated at minimum wage. Through this action, the artist sought to raise awareness of the neglect veterans face when they come back home.
Canto III is rooted in a broader history of despotic rulers who seek to immortalize their own image. The title derives from a passage in Lord Byron's poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812) and around the same time Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote Ozymandias (1817). Both texts describe visions of ruined empires once thought to be indestructible.
Canto III will represent Lawrie Shabibi's debut at the seventeenth edition of The Armory Show as one of fifteen galleries invited to take part in Armory Focus: Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean, curated by Omar Kholeif.
Canto III was made possible with the generous support of Art Jameel.
For the full press release, please click here.