The Monument: Art and Vulgarity in Saddam Hussein's Iraq

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9781860649660: The Monument: Art and Vulgarity in Saddam Hussein's Iraq
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In Baghdad, an enormous monument nearly twice the size of the Arc de Triomphe towers over the city. Two huge forearms emerge from the ground, clutching two swords that clash overhead. Those arms are enlarged casts of those of Saddam Hussein, showing every bump and follicle. The ""Victory Arch"" celebrates a victory over Iran (in their 8-year long war) that never happened. The Monument is a study of the interplay between art and politics, of how culture, normally an unquestioned good, can play into the hands of power with devastating effects. Kanan Makiya uses the culture invented by Saddam Hussein as a window into the nature of totalitarianism and shows how art can become the weapon of dictatorship.

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About the Author:

Kanan Makiya directs the Iraq Research Project at Harvard University, and is a professor at Brandies University. He was also involved with the US's planning of the war in Iraq.

From Publishers Weekly:

This reissue of Makiya’s well-received 1991 study inevitably addresses a different world than the one in which it was conceived, written and first disseminated. A dozen years ago, the withering account of the artistic "accomplishments" of Hussein’s regime would have been of chiefly academic interest, a passionate description of a distant reality. What a difference a war makes. The great capital whose public works Makiya meticulously describes (and skewers) has now mostly vanished. Hussein—whose mighty forearms were once cast into a triumphal arch—awaits his trial in a cell. But if Makiya’s examination has perforce become an autopsy, it is no less useful and provocative. The comparatively recent demonization of Hussein and his regime has tended to downplay not only its very considerable material achievements but also the extent to which Western countries once viewed Hussein as a force for secular modernity. The tensions between that modernity and Hussein’s egomaniacal channeling of Iraqi culture resulted in not only in the bizarre arch of Makiya’s title, but a whole range of public buildings of a peculiarly kitsch grandeur. Makiya’s exploration of art and architecture under contemporary totalitarianism is broadly informed and pungently written, offering insights into the now-departed regime that will undoubtedly prove useful to its present inheritors. Its lack of updated material is to be regretted, however.
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9780857714886: Monument: Art and Vulgarity in Saddam Hussein's Iraq: Art and Vulgarity in Saddam Hussein's Iraq

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ISBN 10:  0857714880 ISBN 13:  9780857714886
Publisher: Not Avail, 2014
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