Oil-for-Food (A Recap)

(2022, Series of Prints)

Oil-for-Food (A Recap) is a series of ten prints based on the 3.4 billion barrels of oil sold off by Iraq to multinational companies from 1996-2002, tracing the various impacts of rationed food on the Kurdish Diaspora. 

In the biggest corruption scandal to face the United Nations, the Oil-for-Food Program generated over 11 billion Dollars of direct fortune to Saddam Hussein through a secret oil voucher system in which Iraq priced oil below its market value so that the holder of the voucher could make a significant profit once the oil was sold off either to another middleman or international oil company. The voucher system gave Saddam political influence over world leaders and companies, soliciting Iraq’s genocidal politics over the Kurdish and Shia population.

The Oil-for-Food program was created next to the embargo Iraq was placed under after its Invasion of Kuwait, leading to the first Gulf War. In theory, Iraq was allowed to sell off its oil to companies and states to purchase food and other humanitarian goods. The population was heavily suffering from famine, cholera epidemics, and an unfathomable child mortality rate, estimated at over half a million under 5-year-old children dying. 

The effects of the Oil-for-Food program are felt throughout Iraq to this day by means of its institutionalization. Linking the bureaucratic modalities of food rationing systems to the political fight for the independence of the Kurdish population, Oil-for-Food (A Recap)depicts an asynchronous feel of history in which the narrative is chaotic, never fully lived through. Still, the image remains steady, to say: “trust me”.