Born in 1975 in Sulaymaniyan, Kurdistan, Iraq, Hiwa K creates sculptures, videos, and performances that are often more about the process than the product. Weaving together oral history, anecdotes, political events, and personal memories – including the artist’s journey on foot from Iraq to Germany, seeking asylum – Hiwa K’s participatory, collaborative works explore migration, colonialism, war, protest, violence, and identity. Using video to document his actions and interactions, he illuminates otherness and the in-between through his occupation of diverse roles, such as artist, musician, interviewer, instigator, and infiltrator. He plays a harmonica while walking through a crowded protest, dances within the walls of an abandoned prison, melts down old weapons to cast an ornate bell, and cooks a communal meal with his mother via Skype, in an effort to shift our perspective both literally and symbolically between the sky and the ground, the individual and the collective, place and placelessness, belonging and alienation, East and West, terror and beauty.
Hiwa K attended the Akademie der Bildende Kunst in Mainz, Germany, and was a guest student at Städelschule Frankfurt. His awards include the Arnold Bode Prize; Schering Stiftung Art Award; Kunstfonds Grant; and Goethe Institut Grant. He has had major exhibitions at S.M.A.K. Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent; New Museum, New York, Documenta 14, Kassel and Athens; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Venice Biennale; La Triennale, Paris; Serpentine Gallery, London; and Manifesta 7, Bolzano. Hiwa K lives and works in Berlin.