Uncertain times have defined the life of artist Walid Siti, who was born in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1954. At the age of 20, Siti sought political asylum in the United Kingdom due to aggression against those opposed to his homeland’s regime. His life in exile has been reflected in his artwork. Themes of border constraints, fragile landscapes, and dislocation are contained within his poetic sculptures, installations, and works on paper. For “The Black Tower,” an exhibition on view at Berlin’s Zilberman Gallery, Siti draws on disorientation as well as resilience. Ladders appear repeatedly in Siti’s work as a symbol of those “climbing” toward safety. In this show, a floor-to-ceiling work, Joined Ladder, is composed of smaller ladders clustered together and pointed upward. The sculpture embodies the interdependence of those struggling within a fractured society, striving for a better life. Also striking is the titular sculpture, a study in contrasts with an elegant form containing a linear tangle. Closer examination reveals an army of blackened soldiers. These miniature soldiers reappear in Wheel of Fortune, where they are encircled by barbed wire. They seem to tumble, ensnared in a militarized cycle. Siti positions the iconography of war within beautiful structures, speaking to the wreckage of conflict while raising the possibility of resilience. Also on view are 15 working sketches, which reveal the artist’s ongoing interest in the hope present in the midst of conflict.
“The Black Tower” will be on view at the Zilberman Gallery in Berlin until February 25, 2017.