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An installation and book about Iraq’s internally displaced people by Simon Hipkins and Agata Skowronek with sound by David McAulay.
An installation and book about Iraq’s internally displaced people by Simon Hipkins and Agata Skowronek with sound by David McAulay.
An installation and book about Iraq’s internally displaced people by Simon Hipkins and Agata Skowronek with sound by David McAulay.
99 backers pledged £6,020 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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The Circle is an immersive sound and image installation about displaced individuals and communities within Iraq.

It is based on an innovative mixture of documentary photography, video testimonies and location sound recordings recorded in Iraq over several years. 

We wish to use this installation to bring together the lives and experiences of Iraq’s huge internally displaced population, drawing parallels between seemingly disparate communities and physical landscapes.

By doing so we will create a virtual space where the stories of Iraq's displaced can be heard; raising awareness about the long-term effects of population displacement within Iraq and across the region.

We already have arranged our first exhibition of this project, which will take place in London on June 16-21 but we need your support to develop the work further, show it to more people at future exhibitions and produce a book to accompany the work.

In return for your help we would like to offer you a number of rewards to show our thanks and of course invite you to come and see the work for yourself!

We are also open to partnerships with organisations and NGOs working on issues of displaced people in the Middle East and would welcome their collaboration on this project.

Please support this project.

Background

Prior to 2003, Iraq was a multicultural society. A broad diversity of religions and ethnicities had co-existed for thousands of years united by a common heritage. 

Today the country is fragmented with an estimated 3.2 million internally displaced people within Iraq* - a number that increases daily due to the current conflict with DAESH (ISIS/ISIL). * 

*http://www.internal-displacement.org/middle-east-and-north-africa/iraq/

Decades of violence have divided Iraq’s population and caused dramatic shifts in the demographics of the country. This movement of people has rapidly increased in the last twelve years as different religious and ethnic groups have sought refuge from the instability that followed the 2003 invasion.

Whilst those who could migrated abroad, many more sought safety within Iraq’s borders - migrating internally to regions, cities or villages where their religion or ethnicity was under less threat.

This has left a vulnerable country where those seeking to gain power and influence can easily exploit people’s fears.

The Project

Since the invasion in 2003 we had felt strongly that Western media representations of Iraq had failed to show the impact violence was having on people’s everyday lives. The words of ordinary Iraqis were rarely heard over the clamour of political posturing, military campaigns and acts of terrorism. Iraq had been reduced to a body count with little meaning attached to the lives lost.

To counter this we have travelled across Iraq and interviewed a wide variety of different people and communities. We looked for individuals whose stories exemplified the situation of the many who have fled from one part of the country to another.

People like Sara, a 32-year-old Sunni Arab woman we met in an Internally Displaced Peoples camp in Northern Iraq. She had fled Baghdad in 2006 after her sister was kidnapped and had lived in the camp ever since.

Or families like Besham and Yousef, a mother and son who had been forced to seek refuge in a Christian enclave on the Nineveh Plains after the father of the family was shot dead by Islamic extremists. 

Other people's stories dated back before 2003, but the effects were still powerfully felt. For example we met Askar, a Kurdish woman, still mourning for her husband and son who disappeared after the army razed her village to the ground during Saddam’s Anfal campaign against the Kurds in the late 1980s.

Stories like these - of people who have lost everything, condemned to be refugees in their own country without the means to build a life elsewhere, reflect the situation for so many in Iraq.

We decided to create this project to bring these stories together so they can be shared outside of Iraq.

We hope that our work can communicate the humanity we witnessed in the people we met.

Why an Installation?

Technology now provides a constant stream of new information every millisecond. The single voice becomes a grain in a wash of digital noise. Stories are easily forgotten and humanity disregarded.

With this project we wish to take audiences beyond the expected norms of current affairs reportage and instead place them in a challenging and confrontational new environment that demands engagement on an emotional and visceral level.

By doing so we believe we can offer an alternative vision of Iraq and its people - both in content and form.

Concept behind the work

Whilst making this project we saw how the process of being displaced had imposed a ceaseless uncertainty on lives of the people we met.

Even in the rare cases of individuals who had managed to rebuild their lives successfully there was still a strong sense their displacement continued on a daily basis. 

At the time we noted in a journal: 

Nothing will ever be the same again, the memory of the past remains, like a spectre that continues to haunt and alter the present. The home, the street, the landscape feel and sound differently depending on the individual's state of mind.

For this reason we wanted to create a circular form to our work that would simultaneously repeat and alter over time. To do this we have chosen to loop a video alongside a separate audio loop of a different duration. Over time image and sound drift apart - producing fresh interactions between sound and image with every cycle.

Every hour, the audio and video reach a synchronicity point again for one loop before they slowly slip apart again - creating an endless spiral in time.

How the money will be spent?

We would like to develop this project further and show the work to a larger audience but we need your support to do so.

Your money will help us publicly show the installation elsewhere. We are already in talks with galleries in Berlin and Istanbul but we don’t want to stop there. We would like to purchase the equipment so we can put the work on in less formal art spaces, showing the work in community centres, public squares and back streets.

Alongside this we want to produce a 32-page book that will accompany the exhibition and include images from the installation along with more detailed texts and essays about internally displaced people in Iraq. Your money will help us create this.

Finally we wish to expand the installation into a multi-screen work. We have so many powerful stories and images which we haven’t been able to include in the work at present. Your help will allow us to edit this material for inclusion in future exhibits.

By supporting us you will allow us to tell more people's stories to a wider audience and help generate greater consideration about the situation many displaced people in the Middle East face on a daily basis.

For the sake of full transparency please see below a breakdown of how we will spend our goal of £6000
- Printing of book to accompany exhibition (500 copies) - £1600
- Purchase of equipment for future exhibition of the work - £1550
- Travel between UK, Germany and Istanbul to enable the artists to work together - £1050 
- Creation of Prints for Rewards - £400 
- Postage of rewards to backers - £300
- Contingency (in case of hidden costs) - 600 

- Kickstarter and credit card percentage (10%) - £500

Extra funding beyond our goal

Except for a small grant to put the exhibition on in London we have not received any payment for our work to date - in fact so far we have entirely self-financed this project.

Any additional money above our goal is welcomed and will continue to go directly to the project. It will enable us to further expand the work and exhibit it at other locations and to new audiences.

We pledge to fully detail how we spend the money we receive from you in our regular email updates and here on our Kickstarter page.

Partnerships

We already have worked with a number of NGOs in Iraq to help create this work but we would welcome support and collaboration with other organisations seeking to help displaced people in the Middle East.

If you work for such an organisation please get in touch. We would love to talk with you.

Risks and challenges

1) We have already filmed our footage, taken our photographs, recorded our interviews and ambient sounds. We have translated everything. It is all there - ready to be shown to audiences.

2) We have a rough assembly of ‘The Circle’ and have a first exhibition of the work in place. It is happening in collaboration with Counterpoint Arts in London. The place and date are fixed (June 16-21). We need your support so we can repeat this success elsewhere.

3) We have a proven track record of completing both commercial and self-initiated projects to a very high standard and have the full support of Key Pictures, a UK based production company.

4) We promise you won't be disappointed! Thank you for your support.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £5 or more About $8

    - Eternal gratitude and regular updates on the project
    - Invite to future exhibitions of the work (no expenses covered)

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    Pledge £10 or more About $15

    - A screensaver slideshow of images from the installation
    - A personal thank you email from the artists and regular updates on the project
    - Invite to future exhibitions of the work (no expenses covered)

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    Pledge £20 or more About $31

    - A screensaver slideshow of images from the installation
    - An MP3 download of one of the soundscapes created for the installation
    - A personal thank you email from the artists and regular updates on the project
    - Invite to future exhibitions of the work (no expenses covered)

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    Pledge £50 or more About $77

    - A copy of the exhibition book signed by the artists
    - Invite to private views of future exhibitions (no expenses covered)
    - A personal thank you email from the artists and regular updates on the project

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    Pledge £75 or more About $115

    - Your name of choice credited as a supporter in the book
    - A copy of the exhibition book signed by the artists
    - Invite to private views of future exhibitions (no expenses covered)
    - A personal thank you email from the artists and regular updates on the project

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    Pledge £100 or more About $154

    - One 12” x 8” (30.48cm x 20.32cm) limited edition print signed by the artists (your choice from a series of 3)
    - Your name of choice credited as a supporter in the book
    - A copy of the exhibition book signed by the artists
    - Invite to private views of future exhibitions (no expenses covered)
    - A personal thank you email from the artists and regular updates on the project

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    Pledge £150 or more About $230

    - Your name of choice will be credited as a supporter of the work during future exhibitions of the work
    - One 18” x 12” (30.48cm x 20.32cm) limited edition print signed by the artists (your choice from a series of 3)
    - Your name of choice credited as a supporter in the book
    - A copy of the exhibition book signed by the artists
    - Invite to private views of future exhibitions (no expenses covered)
    - A personal thank you email from the artists and regular updates on the project

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    Pledge £250 or more About $384

    - Your name of choice will be credited as a sponsor of the work and clearly displayed at future exhibitions of the work
    - One 32” x 12” (81.28cm x 30.48cm) panoramic limited edition print signed by the artists (your choice from a series of 3)
    - Your name of choice credited as a supporter in the book
    - A copy of the exhibition book signed by the artists
    - Invite to private views of future exhibitions (no expenses covered)
    - A personal thank you email from the artists and regular updates on the project

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    Pledge £500 or more About $768

    One 30” x 20” (76.2cm x 50.8) limited edition print signed by the artists (your choice from a series of 3)
    - Your name of choice will be credited as a sponsor of the work and clearly displayed at future exhibitions of the work
    - A copy of the exhibition book signed by the artists
    - Your name of choice credited as a supporter in the book
    - Invite to private views of future exhibitions (no expenses covered)
    - A personal thank you email from the artists and regular updates on the project

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    Pledge £750 or more About $1,152

    - One 49.5” x 30” (125.73cm x 50.8) limited edition print signed by the artists (your choice from a series of 3)
    - Your name of choice will be credited as a sponsor of the work and clearly displayed at future exhibitions of the work
    - A copy of the exhibition book signed by the artists
    - Your name of choice credited as a supporter in the book
    - Invite to private views of future exhibitions (no expenses covered)
    - A personal thank you email from the artists and regular updates on the project

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    Pledge £1,000 or more About $1,535

    All of the above plus a choice between:
    - A personal presentation of work and talk from one of the artists in London, Berlin or Istanbul (or elsewhere if you provide travel expenses)
    or
    - One day’s masterclass from one of the artists in documentary video or photography production in London, Berlin or Istanbul

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    Pledge £2,000 or more About $3,071

    All of the above plus:
    - Installation and exhibition of the work in your venue of choice for 1 week (expenses not included)

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Funding period

- (25 days)