Hiwa K: Do You Remember What You Are Burning? is conceived as a three-venue collaboration by Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai with Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto and the artist Hiwa K.
In 1996, at age 21, the Iraqi-Kurdish artist Hiwa K fled Kurdistan on foot, embarking on a journey to Europe that lasted five months and twenty days. He lived in Germany for almost two decades and in 2020 he moved back to his birthplace of Sulaymaniyah, in Kurdistan. Do You Remember What You Are Burning? is Hiwa K’s first solo exhibition in Ireland, bringing together works created over the past ten years.
The exhibition’s title is taken from one of the featured artworks, Do You Remember What You Are Burning? (2011–17), for which the artist invited students to bring a book of choice to the old town square Saray Azadi (Freedom Square), Sulaymaniyah, the site of many anti-government protests. They quietly read these books with a magnifying glass, focusing the sun’s rays and erasing the books’ contents letter by letter.
Comprised of films, installations, and performances, Hiwa K’s work examines themes of migration, identity and collective ways of being. Concentrating on the conditions one can experience when on the margin of society, the artist frequently refers to the geopolitical ties between his native Kurdistan and the many locations in Europe that he has called home.