Between Two Rivers
What is this project?
Between Two Rivers Project is the process of my seeking and trying to understand and find myself in the place that unintentionally came into being, through my experiences and contact with culture, history, and the general concerns of life. The differences between retellings, stereotyping in the community, and the questions that come to us about identity, become stories in Between the Two Rivers.
The graphic story style was the most suitable way I felt I could display and embody the concept of this project. At the same time, the lack of graphic stories in Kurdish language, and their gap in the art world, were my reasons for choosing this technique and for describing the events in a very simple language.
suported by spotlight iraq 2020
What are they saying about the project?
It began with ten memories illustrated on paper. Each memory was made up of three parts: first, the artist’s current experience; then, the stories she had heard from her own family as a child; and finally, the stories she gathered from non-family community members and historians as research. As the ten pages expanded into chapters, and the chapters into the graphic novel Between Two Rivers, Rooz Mohammed beautifully documents a series of encounters where she faces two opposing narratives that have sculpted her identity.
In one scene, Rooz enters a cab to go home. As she sits down, she ruminates about how she will tell her parents that she wants to travel to Baghdad to partake in a comics workshop. Simultaneously, she is also cautiously aware of harassment by taxi drivers. In the background, the Imam is preaching from a nearby mosque about religious obligations to keep daughters at home. As all these elements pour into a single moment on a page, Rooz looks towards the future and asks: will my parents support me?
At the core of every coming-of-age tale is a formative shift that allows the character to shed her young skin and emerge into the world changed. In this particular story, Rooz begins in Baghdad. Standing under the Liberation Monument at Tahrir Square, Rooz is approached by an Iraqi officer who asks for her ID. A fear manifests within her as she imagines how an Arab officer would treat her as a Kurd. When the officer instead initiates small talk and starts cracking jokes, Rooz’s fears are confronted with a different story and a different possibility. During this picturesque, albeit inward, journey, Rooz considers the stories that have shaped her national, religious, and gender identity.
Many young artists like Rooz are seeking paths to make connections that have been historically broken. Between Two Rivers provides tools to consider the possibilities of creating new stories as Kurds and Arabs or as women or at the level of any identity we might hold. It is a book that opens up the space to build solidarity and to recognize our shared struggles.
- Shawk Alanı