Iraqi visitor bounces back after statue vandalism incident
by Andie Diemer
Dec. 3, 2008
Scholar-in-Residence Ahmed Fadaam finally released “Civilization from the mold” on Monday morning, when the Iraqi artist and journalist began the stages of taking the plaster off of his masterpiece, which had been brutally disfigured by a vandal just weeks before.
Fadaam freed Civilization, the sculpture of a Middle Eastern woman with dozens of hands sprouting from the ground surrounding her, in a four-hour process. As a waste mold, Fadaam had to break away the mold piece by piece, all while hoping his sculpture underneath had not suffered any damages through the process.
“I’m only worried about one place — here — where I think that we have an air gap,” Fadaam said, pointing to Civilization’s arm. “But if we can open the mold safely then it’s not going to be a big deal. We can fix it later. But for the rest, I’m quite confident that it went on well.”
Project Pericles Director Tom Arcaro, who worked to bring Fadaam to campus, said the releasing agent that kept the plaster from bonding to the concrete underneath didn’t work as well as they had hoped and that there was some slight damage to the arm that Fadaam was concerned about.
“The chipping off process is more tedious and painstaking than he had planned, but he said that’s to be expected that any project is going to have any repairs when you take off the mold,” Arcaro said.
The next step is to repair the places where the mold didn’t work perfectly.
“If you’re expecting a ready-to-display sculpture, you’re going to be disappointed at this point,” Arcaro said. “But it’s a process. You’re stressing away the plaster and there’s going to be some repairs.”
Fadaam’s sculpture was vandalized Nov. 19 when an unknown vandal broke into the warehouse he was working it and smeared Civilization’s face, lopped off her breasts and smashed a hammer into the back of her head.
After working for several hours to repair the damages of the statue that he believes represents a noble cause about women in the Middle East and their fight for their future, Fadaam was then able to cast her.
He said many artists, some of whom he had never even met, who heard about the damage contacted him to express their condolences and support him.
“They rushed to send me e-mails to express their support and sympathy and I found it really great,” Fadaam said. “I was speechless when I was reading those.”
However, he told them not to worry or feel sorry for him, since it would make him feel weak.
Instead, he reminded them that art has survived history.
“We are stronger than time, and art has survived and will keep surviving because of us — the artists, because of you and because of me,” Fadaam said. “A bunch of people, like those who looted my school in 2003 or those who vandalized my statue now, are not going to stop us.”
The statue is expected to be unveiled in the spring and will be placed on campus as a gift from Fadaam.