Hiwa K, Pre-Image (Blind as the Mother Tongue), 2017. Digital video, sound, color; 17:40 min. Courtesy the artist; KOW, Berlin; and prometeogallery di Ida Pisani, Milan/Lucca.

Drawing on vernacular forms and collaborative and performative actions, Iraqi-Kurdish artist Hiwa K (b. 1975, Sulaymaniyah, Iraq) makes work inspired by political events, chance encounters, oral histories, and his own experiences, including fleeing Iraq on foot in the late 1990s. Hiwa K approaches his subjects with curiosity, pragmatism, and spontaneity, and his videos, performances, and sculptures speak to themes of political memory and belonging, as well as what the artist refers to as “placelessness” and “zones of possibility.” Hiwa K often distances himself from the standard position of the artist, instead appearing in his works as an interviewer, guide, bandleader, or political organizer. Many of his artistic projects take shape through self-education, informal collaborations, and exploratory trials.