Summer 2009: Exhibitions Recap

May 17, 2009
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Hope and Reflection

Above: A view of my exhibit Hope and Reflection: Images of Kurdish Life in Turkey and Iraq at the Bade Museum in Berkeley CA.

Hope and Reflection: Images of Kurdish Culture from Turkey and Iraq

With just one week left until I return to Iraq, a lot has happened over the last few days! My first solo exhibit opened on Thursday evening at the Badé Museum of Biblical Archaeology at the Pacific School of Religion in Berekely, California. The exhibit, Hope and Reflection: Images of Kurdish Culture from Turkey and Iraq, features more than 20 hopeful images of daily life in a troubled region and intimate portraits of the Kurdish people.

The opening night lecture and reception went great! My lecture focused on the dichotomy of traditionalism and modernization in the region and there were more than 30 people in attendance, including the Badé family, archaeologists, students, and members of the Kurdish community.

Watch the lecture now:

Lecture on Kurdish culture by Jon Vidar at the Badé Museum of Biblical Archaeology at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.

UPDATE: Tory wrote a glowing article about the Hope and Reflection exhibit that got featured on the ArtSlant: San Francisco web site. Read the article here:

Disclaimer: The wonderful review has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she is the best girlfriend ever ;-)

It Is What It Is: Conversations About Iraq


Last minute, I was also invited to participate in a living exhibit at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles titled, It Is What It Is: Conversations About Iraq. The project is by the British artist Jeremy Deller, who has invited a diverse group of individuals -- including Iraq war veterans, journalists, scholars, archaeologists, and Iraqi nationals -- to take up residence at the Hammer Museum with the express purpose of encouraging discussion with visitors to the Museum.

The exhibit was set in the courtyard of the Hammer Museum and was grounded in reality by a car that was blown up in Baghdad by a suicide bomber. Directly next to the car, two couches were set under a large sign stating "It Is What It Is" in English and Arabic. This backdrop set the tone for casual conversations with museum visitors wanting to chat with resident experts that have first-hand experience of Iraq.

The average number of visitors at one time was usually between two and six. However, the day I was asked to serve as the resident expert, the exhibit was featured on NPR. As a result, I had around thirty people visit through the course of my three hour block and about fifteen people at one time participating in an active conversation about our role and current responsibilities in the country. It was a heated conversation with many great opinions and viewpoints. I was extremely happy to have been invited to be a part of this amazing project.

(Right) A view of myself speaking with a visitor to the "It Is What It Is" exhibit at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, California. (Photo Credit: Andrew McGregor)

Heading Back to Iraq

I will be leaving to go back to Iraq in just over a week. As a direct result of the connections that I made during the Microsoft contest awhile back, I will have a driver, translator, places to stay, and additional access to the areas I am hoping to photograph.

During this trip, I will focus my time around the refugee camps in northern Iraq. The United Nations has recognized the refugee situation in Iraq as the largest urban refugee crisis that it has ever encoutered. It will also be one of my first forays into full multimedia journalism, as I will be capturing still photos, video, and audio. NEED Magazine is talking about featuring my work in the region and I'll keep you all posted if and when it is published!

Hope and Reflection

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Kamiran Dizayee | May 28, 2009 7:46 AM | Reply

Way to go Jon, I like your new website design,
I hope your arrived to Kurdistan safely, please keep in touch and do not hesitate to contact me if you require any assistance during your trip.



Kamiran Dizayee | May 30, 2009 5:48 PM | Reply

Dear Jon
I watched your video about Hope and reflection, it was amazing and thank you for mentioning the Miracle Kurd, in fact you are a miracle and we thank you and grateful fot your interest and involmenet in the plight of the Kurdish people.

Kind Regards


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