“The photo was taken on July 20, 2007 by Associated Press photographer, Khalid Mohammed, and it shows an Iraqi artist painting a mural on the steel and cement blast walls erected by U.S. occupation troops in downtown Baghdad, fortifications meant to protect government buildings from car bombs. Commissioned by the U.S. backed, Shiite dominated central government, the artist’s mural is part of a government funded ‘beautification project’, where non-controversial and colorful murals are being created and installed on bomb blast walls all across Baghdad. In painting the ramparts of a military occupation, does the Iraqi artist somehow make life better for his people? I don’t mean to say that art should not serve to ameliorate suffering and bring joy to the soul – those are, I believe, some of the main reasons why we create works of art. As Albert Camus once observed, ‘We have art in order not to die of life.’ But when we create art, who is it for, what is its purpose, and what are its ramifications?”
On Decorating The Blast Walls, Mark Vallen, August 3, 2007
We have art in order not to die of life.