Bady Dalloul
Flush, Algiers Agreement (1975)

geopoliticalThe Great Game is a series of works composed of a number of card combinations illustrated by the faces of key political figures shaping the geopolitical landscape in the Middle East. Each reconstituted ‘hand of play’ corresponds to a diplomatic treaty establishing or modifying geographical borders. The plastic form of a poker hand chosen by the artist highlights the randomness of the process of fixing boundaries and the way in which they do not account for the lives of those located there. These eleven works cover two major themes of Dalloul’s artistic practice, play and power relations in geopolitics.

Dalloul illustrates here the Algiers Agreements signed on 6 March 1975 between Iraq and Iran. The treaty marked the agreement of both countries on the demarcation of the natural border of the Shatt-el-Arab River as well as the end of Iranian support for the Kurdish people, in opposition to the Iraqi regime. These agreements were challenged five years later by Iraq when the two countries entered the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). The artist depicts five key figures in the signing of this agreement (from left to right); Mustafa al-Barzani, Saddam Hussein, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Houari Boumediene and Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The oeuvre of Bady Dalloul currently based in Paris, sophisticatedly and cunningly employs collage across various media: texts, drawings, video, and objects to produce powerful works commenting on the past and the present. His collages imply a construction, the fabrication of a space that is simultaneously autobiographical, critical, poetic and narrative. Thus, he makes narratives where the real and fiction, and individual and collective experiences, enter into a permanent dialogue questioning the official historical grand narratives. The artist conceived of a fragile book, tattered by time and long use. It’s a diary, and he has patiently filled every page. He has taken notes ever since his childhood spent in Paris and Damascus, cutting out and pasting in illustrations from history magazines and books to make up stories like Badland (1999–2004). His practice began as a way to keep busy and counter boredom and the incomprehensibility of the crisis that has held Syria in its grip for decades. For 5 years, he filled his notebooks with definitions, notes on events, information (scientific, geostrategic, military, economic and historical) and maps. A long-term project guided by a question, an obsession: do images represent the truth of our world?