7 min video projection, 4 kiddie chairs and a round table, 5 layer digital map collage
The video stages a Whatsapp group conversation between British Political Agents John More (Kuwait), Sir Percy Cox (Bushire), Arnold Wilson (Baghdad) and Major Dickson (Bahrain) with Sheikh Salem AlSabah (Kuwait), Sheikh Hamad AlKhalifa (Bahrain) and King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud (Saudi Arabia). The conversation is an adaptation of telegrams, letters and notes found on the Qatar Digital Library regarding the dispute between Ibn Saud and the Sheikh of Kuwait. The information is archived under the British Government's proposals to settle the Kuwait-Najd boundary dispute by Arbitration, the defeat of Shaikh Salim at Jahra, the Ikhwan withdrawal and the truce termination by Ikhwan. John More gives accounts of the Battle of Jahra (1920) via urgent telegrams to his P.A. peers. Eventually, the British bomb and desperse the Ikhwan to protect Kuwait from the tribe.
On the table is an overlay of 5 maps dating from the Sykes-Picot map (a secret border agreement between the French and the British, 1916) to Sir Percy Cox's final outlines of Kuwait (1922). The chairs are assigned to the Political Agents involved in what seems to have initiated Sir P. Cox's red pen onto the paper, two years after the Battle of Jahra. This defining moment, the Uqair Protocol, defined the boundaries between Iraq, Najd and Kuwait. Shaikh Salem AlSabah was not permitted any role in the outcome during the meeting between Ibn Saud and Sir Percy. In turn Kuwait lost more than two thirds of its territory and is still being challenged at its modern borders.
The installation was displayed at the Institut Françaisin Kuwait as a result of an experimental map making workshop led by artist Alia Farid. The establishment of the French Institute in Kuwait followed the launch of the French Institute all over the world and marked the beginning of a new chapter in the cultural relations between France and Kuwait, initiated more than 40 years ago. The French government has entrusted the Institut Français with promoting French culture abroad through artistic exchanges: performing arts, visual arts, architecture, the worldwide diffusion of French books, film, technology and ideas.
Hence the project lies north of the Sykes-Picot line in a French territory, poking at the new forms of external influence whether negotiated through passive colonialism or through the cultural intervention.