ISIS leaders have been taking meetings in the contemporary art scene to raise money for future fighting in Mosul. Citing religious purposes, the group is known to destroy ancient art and ruins with sledgehammers, bombs and permanent markers to erase the rich cultural history of the region.
But now, facing a stronger Iraqi/US front, the group has no choice but to change strategy. Led by Kata’ib Taswiyya, the group traditionally in charge of demolishing cultural targets, ISIS has started producing sculptural pieces, collage paintings, and installations that they are showing across the world as potential contemporary masterpieces.
“It’s a post-Dadaist approach to the world,” says Andy Hall, a top art collector in New York. Hall hosted ‘No Earth’ last week, the centerpiece of which was a Lady Gaga sculpture constructed from burnt books and statues from the Nergal Gate situated in the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh.
ISIS also showed at the Vera Munro Gallery in Hamburg, many of the pieces were shelter-themed or contained a very pronounced critique of world globalism. “Extremist modernism and contempt for art and institutionalized cultural values are exactly the types of thing we look for these days in the modern art landscape,” said curator Eriks Bustamante. “I find my interest lies in the risk involved in finding these destroyed remains of the antiquities of Palmyra.”
Time will tell if this latest ISIS ploy will pay off.