Last night I received our route planner from Mr. Marsoomi by email. At the same moment I was at skype with Thomas and as you see we are both very happy with this plan. Our trip is becoming more and more concrete. Mr. Marsoomi told me that there are still 300 places in the Marshlands who are very valuable for historical research. He likes to have attention for this before an oil company just start digging. That’s the problem with the Marshlands they don’t have pyramids’ or amphitheatres to show to the world. The history of the Marshlands is older and more vulnerable. Their way of Building houses is not for eternity. But I am not an archaeologist and not a worker on the university I am an artist and very interessted in their way of living. I want to research how the people will respond on a house brought in by the West and what does that mean for their way of living. What can we learn from their building techniques, which they are using already for ages? And how can I bring that here to arise some awareness about our history.


Khanim Amien

Last week I was visiting Amsterdam Noord and by chance I met Khanim Amien. A woman born in the north of Iraqi. She came to Holland during the Saddam regime. Khamin has an impressive life story and now she manged to do what really makes her  happy. Painting. She is born in 1939 and from that moment she started with learning and always, although the circumstances where not easy she tried to stay close by herself.  Through her creativity she never stops finding solutions for her changing difficult circumstances. In the Netherlands she immediately started to learn Dutch and she was able to spend a lot of her time painting. It is- just- a women life ‘s like there are a lot more over the world and through history. She married at 17 years with a man who was much older with already six children. She had to take care for his children and her own after a period. In the mean time she studied for midwifery. Because of this medical knowledge she takes care of the wounded during the Iran /Iraqi war and when the war started in the north of Iraqi she has to flee for her live and that brought her to Amsterdam Noord. And of course there is a lot more to tell. Like the people in the Marhslands and every were in Iraqi she also suffered form the Saddam period and there for I think it is important to mention her. Her work is very colorful and cheerful. Opposite from her direct life experience. A meeting in Amsterdam Noord on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Her site



Geologic map of Iraki


Now you see how little is still there from the former Marshlands. Perhaps in 10 years it will be disappeared. And the only thing what can be there, an artificial lake and reed huts to show us how it was


The curiosity was so big that the public asked for a new gathering when we are back from our travel. We like doing that. We will leave on the 31 of October and we will be back before the 31 of November. Later more. On the picture you see Mr. Ahmed Faraj and me talking. The other image is of the dream of Ahmed. His floating village in the Marshlands.




I really like textile, wind and soft after noon light and  that all I got whenclarity

I cycled yesterday to Arcam where I had to present my lecture.

It was an inspirering gathering and I am convinced that the visitors went a way with a full head of new ideas and questions. I really like it although my brains are very am orphic after last night. I have to search for words to describe the gathering.

The main issue was, is it moral responsible that we transport in this case houses of the west in an aria where the circumstances are far away back in time. And the answer last night was yes. The specialists from the Middle East were totally convinced with that. And of course in this case it is important to mention that only the knowledge goes there. All the materials will be produced in the country it self.

My project is named -Twee Stromen land- that means a land between two rivers. After last night I realize that in this whole project my project is also a project between two rivers and I have to take care that the water will stay clear in my stream. And for sure I need a producer for the project. And now I go to do my sport perhaps that brings some clarity.


[dutch]Life, oh life, oh li-i-fe [/dutch][english]Life, oh life,oh li-i-fe[/english]

This afternoon I had my first chat with Marsoomi through Skype. Mr Marsoomi is the head of the Iraqi Society For Marshes Restoration and Development and our host. He is very happy with our
lifeohlifeohliifecoming travel to the Marshlands and organized already a whole program for us. I really hope we can stay for a few days in the Reed villages to sleep there and awake up there. To hear the birds sing through the reed and the boats gliding through the water. I will asked him next time although I know he is a reader of this blog so….I am wondering what is happening with the making of the clothes for Dorinde and me so I asked him to send me a picture of the person who was in charge with it. Not handmade, his daughter will buy it on the market. So please then a picture of the salesman/or women.  For sure it will be a man. I remember in the Kasbah in Damascus as well as in Istanbul as well as in Aleppo the entire salesman where man also in the lingerie business. Amazing this contrast between the totally veiled women and all that lingerie sold through man. This is only a thought of course I don’t  know how it will be in Iraqi lingerie shop!

This evening I had dinner with Thomas Bartels the cameraman and Sam Simons the sound engineer. It was about getting to know each other. And of course making fantasize about the travel. Talking and sharing I get the idea to take a Polaroid camera with me. To be able to leave also images there not only taking. Tomorrow we will have a meeting in my studio with every body of the group who is going to Iraqi. Dorinde, Thomas, Sam and Ahmed will be there. This is the first and the last meeting as a group before we see each other on the airport at the end of the month.


[dutch]Een gedachte[/dutch][english]Just a thought![/english]

This night Ahmed and me have some preparations for the lecture of next friday.justathought

It will be an interessting gathering with a lot of different passionated people.

The whole process is already a new journey for me. And specially this corporation

with the business world!  But in Ahmed I find a compassionated business men and that is what I appreciated very much.

Agenda presentatie bij ARCAM


lecture on 1 October



On Friday the first of October there will eb a lecture in Arcam in Amsterdam. Arcam is the Amsterdam Architecture Institute. Ahmed Faraj and me will tell about the project Twee Stromen Land (The land between two rivers) and our travel to Mesopotamia in November. Last week Joost Vermeulen was in my studio to interview me about the project. He is writer for the newspaper Het parool.  And also Theo de Feyter the translator of the Gigamesj-epos is very interested and he is coming to read out of his book on the lecture. More people are hooking in and that ’s gives a lot of energy. Mariska van der Brught told me that we even in Holland have a reed museum. Unfortunately I could not find it on the Internet but what I found was a digital hay museum. That reminds me as a kid playing in the hay by my aunt and uncle in fact it was one of best playgrounds for me as a child. An important subject on our lecture will be the mudhif. Almost every village in the marshlands have a mudhif. It is a kind of community house. Not only for the inhabitants of the village but also for travellers. And of course the mudhif was and is hardly always for men. One of the reasons was that the houses (raba’s) where to small to invited guest. The mudhif had an important role in the oral history. It was the place where the news was spread and where people made their gatherings. Imaging me bringing a Mudhif into Amsterdam. That would be great!

So come to the lecture. It starts at 16.00 in Arcam in Amsterdam.


Meet and Greet

To day I was on the Meet and Greet with the new ambassador from Iraqi Z.E. Dr. Saad A.M. Ibrahimin Al  Ali in the Netherlands Council for Trade Promotion in The Hague. I was quiet late and before me I saw a sea of black suits. And before them a powerful men who was explaining the history of Iraq.

His words: the problem in Iraq is not the safety but the lack of investments, the lack of work for the people. So he encouraged Dutch investors to go to Iraq and do business. There are a lot of opportunities like water, oil, infrastructure, health care and education.

Iraq is a country with a lot of money and it needs people to work with the money. At this moment there are already a lot of Chinese and Turkish businesses in Iraq no Dutch company. Where are they? We have a strong history over there. If you say I am Dutch you have one advantage over there in the minds of the people is going to burn a light of Philips. Philips was the first big brand. So the first TV and vacuum cleaners, lights and fridges came from Philips and this has settled in the collective memory of the Iraqi people. So as a Dutch businessman you don’t have to prove your self in that way.  Products from Holland are strong and good. Ahmed Faraj who is the initiator and developer of the housing project in the marshes told about my project and then I got a big applause for going to Iraq- Brave woman-. Not a camera for the war but for the other side of Iraqi.

This afternoon I met a lot of nice people so I think I will see some of them back on the lecture in Arcam on the first of October. Here below you see to images, which pictures the different kind of danger and safety arias in Iraqi in the month of June and July. And as the ambassador spoke: In Augustus there was no red in the whole images. Yesterday I received an email from Linda Rose Smit she lives on the Dutch compound in Basra and she invited me to have lunch with her in November because she was not able to leave her place now because of the danger for kidnapping. Hopefully in November we can meet each other in the middle.



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