Child Soldiers

(exhibit 2004 at: Entfernte Nähe. Neue Positionen Iranischer Kunst, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin)
“Kilid" is related to the practice of the mobilization of young people during Iran/Iraq war when the adolescents were used for the clearance of mine fields. In this connection they received a small plastic key, which symbolically promised them the admission to paradise after martyr death.

The key to paradise and its fatal background are the basic idea for a monumental installation in form of a key from bulbs in the traditional colours of the Iranian flag (white, red, green) - the colours, for which the martyrs died. In Iran, the public area is illuminated during the various ceremonies (weddings, funerals, national holidays) with such bulbs.

Additionally to the light installation, golden plastic keys are accumulated in a large number on the floor.

Kilid, Final inspection
(exhibit 2005 at former GDR-watchtower at Schlesischer Busch, Kunstfabrik am Flutgraben e.V., Berlin)

"Security advice: Please watch out for abandoned objects and luggage in trains and at platforms. Use the SOS Telephone to inform us." This line accompanies the current programme of the “Berliner Fenster” [Berlin window], the public transportation TV of the capital’s subways, since the bomb attacks in London have happened. It is the subtitle of commercials, stupid celebrity news and recommendations for mostly third-class events and cooking recipes. The „Berliner Fenster“: involuntary medium of a cynic realism between murder, threat, kitsch, war, security advices, infotainment and advertisement.
The safety measures remind us of opening an umbrella after everybody has gotten wet already. Who is shooting or bombing, when, and why? How is ideology legitimated? How does one decline fundamentalism? What is the rationale for national security?
At the former physic border of the allied forces of the cold war, the former inter-German dividing line of two socially organised ideologies, and one of the last watchtowers of the former GDR in Berlin, is where the work „kilid“ of the artist Shahram Entekhabi, born in Iran, is shining. A six meter-long key (kilid, key in English), made of aluminium and equipped with 400 light bulbs, colored in the colors of the Iranian flag with the image of the tulip of Allah, is shining over the former border area and marks the current ideological border, a border that is embattled in a hot and severe war.
Once the one enmity is overcome, the next one is immediately emerging. The ideology of Islamic fundamentalism confronts the ideology of a hysteric, industrialized Christianity and the societies derived from it.
Entekhabi’s „kilid“ is also to be understood as a symbol and a reference to the small plastic keys, handed to children soldiers in the Iraqi/Iranian war. They were handed to them as the key to the otherworldly paradise to equip them also in a ideological way for martyrdom, before the children were used as human mine detectors. The bombs tear up bodies, souls seek refuge in paradise. At the watchtower, visitors will find countless used original keys, which do not lock or open any lock anymore. Every visitor may choose one and take it home.
Entekhabi’s work, reminding of neon advertisement signs, the aesthetics of fairs and village festivals, casts a new light on the watchtower, the remains and current symbol of a past, formerly proud, industrialized security system.
What is more cruel: the development of weapons that can – like in a computer game - finally be navigated unmanned by the generation of Playstation-Maniacs, suggesting a clean war, or the seduction of children, youngsters, and adults to volunteer as victims and weapons? The entry to Allah’s heart is paid as reward.
The industrial and digital weapon technology serve the game of the weapon industry in its battle for markets, where functionality is checked in the reality-test of current crisis and war regions. The fanatic religiousness serves the mullahs to secure their power interests.
Who is shooting and bombing, when, and why? How is ideology legitimated? By installing Shahram Entekhabi’s work on the watchtower, new fields of interpretation and reference for his work as well as for the tower as historic remains will emerge.

Mari Brellochs, Berlin based art critic, artist, and curator