Piers Secunda’s artwork on iconoclasm in Mosul is currently being showcased in London’s Imperial War Museum. If creating objects can be seen as an act of proclaiming any given culture, then destroying them is a very powerful gesture of dominance. London’s Imperial War Museum has long been discussing this topic, as well as trying to find ways to protect and restore different heritages.
In collaboration with Historic England, the exhibition titled “What Remains” in the Imperial War Museum is bringing together around 50 photographs, oral histories, documents, artefacts, and artworks. And one of the contemporary artists who’s featuring in the exhibition is Piers Secunda. The exhibition will explore why cultural heritage usually gets attacked during war, and the ways we save, protect, and restore them.
Secunda’s recent work focuses on the geopolitics of the region where he captures the acts of destruction. I must point out that Secunda’s paintings are not the usual type of paintings in the traditional sense; as he creates paintings with poured and set industrial paint.
Back in 2015, ISIS released footage showing their fighters smashing artifacts and toppling statues at Mosul Museum. Three years later, Piers Secunda travelled all the way to the museum to explore what had been destroyed, and what remained after ISIS.
The artist then moulded the damaged surfaces of sculptures which ISIS had attaked, and used these moulds to create a series of artworks reflecting on the destruction in a very unique and creative way.
This creative artist believes that displaying objects that tell the story of how culture is targeted in conflict is not only a lesson, but a warning from history.
As an Iraqi myself, it saddens me to see how my heritage is being destroyed, with Iraq’s officials and the international community doing so little to protect it. I would really like to see more efforts being taken to save our history, my nation’s history.