As part of the Singapore Biennale, Berlin-based Iraqi painter and filmmaker Ali Yass’ Die Flut (The Flood), is on display at the Singapore Art Museum. Created with Chinese ink and acrylic on Misumi Kozo paper, it is a series of 20 paintings conceived after Yass saw images of massive floods in Rheinland-Pfalz and Nordrhein-Westfalen during his residency at an art gallery in Essen in late 2021.
While in residency, he had heard the locals talking about how the water had risen to knee-level after the flood. After hearing the phrase “water rising to knee-level”, Yass was reminded of the medieval tale about the “rivers of blood” in Jerusalem after the Christian crusaders conquered the Muslim Fatimid Caliphate and won the city in 1099.
In legend, upon hearing rumours that the bloodshed was so extreme that it reached knee-height, both the Muslims and the crusaders asked if the blood reached their knees while they were standing or riding on their horses. A deeper “river of blood” would signify greater and more gruesome bloodshed.
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