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Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011

November 3, 2019–March 1, 2020


This fall, MoMA PS1 will present a large-scale group exhibition examining the legacies of American-led military engagement in Iraq beginning with the Gulf War in 1991. Through more than 250 works, the exhibition explores the effects of these wars on artists based in Iraq and its diasporas, as well as those responding to the war from the West. Featuring the work of over 75 artists including Afifa Aleiby, Dia Azzawi, Thuraya al-Baqsami, Paul Chan, Harun Farocki, Tarek Al-Ghoussein, Guerrilla Girls, Thomas Hirschhorn, Hiwa K, Hanaa Malallah, Monira Al Qadiri, Nuha al-Radi, and Ala Younis, Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011 will be on view across the entire MoMA PS1 building from November 3, 2019 through March 1, 2020.

While brief, the 1991 Gulf War marked the start of a lengthy period of military involvement with Iraq that led to more than a decade of sanctions and the 2003 Iraq War. The invasion in 2003 galvanized a broader international response, prompting anti-war protests around the globe. Though the Iraq War officially ended in 2011, artists have continued to explore these conflicts and their ongoing impacts. The works in Theater of Operations reveal how this period was defined by unsettling intersections of spectacularized violence, xenophobia, oil dependency, and new imperialisms.

Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011 is organized by Peter Eleey, Chief Curator, and Ruba Katrib, Curator, MoMA PS1.

Major support is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Generous funding is provided by The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art. Additional support is provided by the MoMA PS1 Annual Exhibition Fund. 

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Afifa Aleiby. Gulf War. 1991. Oil on canvas, 39 3/8 x 27 1/2” (100 x 70 cm). Courtesy the artist

Guerrilla Girls. Did She Risk Her Life For Governments That Enslave Women?. 1991. Poster, 22 x 17” (55.9 x 43.2 cm). Courtesy guerrillagirls.com © Guerrilla Girls

Monira Al Qadiri. Behind the Sun. 2013. Video (color, sound). 10 min. Courtesy the artist

Thuraya Al-Baqsami. The Last Shot. 1991. Pastel and acrylic on paper, 19 11/16 x 23 5/8” (50 x 60 cm). Courtesy the artist

Dia al-Azzawi. War Diary No. 1. 1991. Gouache and charcoal on paper, 28 pages, 12 5/8 x 9 1/2” (32 x 24 cm). Courtesy the artist

Harun Farocki. War at a Distance. 2003. Video (color, sound). 58 min. The Museum of Modern Art. Committee on Film Funds. © 2019 Harun Farocki Filmproduktion