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Artistic Works: between comics and music therapy in Iraq

Launched in November 2020, the Artistic Works project intends to promote youth leadership in the creation of innovative employment opportunities based on the use of the different languages ​​of the arts. In a situation characterized by thirty years of wars and conflicts, while the future is very uncertain for the whole country also due to the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic, it becomes even more important offering the possibility to the new generations to be protagonists direct their present to build real change.

In the wake of the numerous initiatives carried out in collaboration with Walking Arts, created by young Iraqi artists, it was decided to focus in particular on comics and music therapy. Two fields in which it is possible to strengthen the knowledge of young people to start innovative employment paths.
The comics are a language, a form of expression that can become a real occupation, through the transformation of a passion into a profession.
Music therapy can represent the opportunity for young musicians to work alongside psychologists and psychiatrists in the context of the numerous mental health projects in the area.

From November 2020 to March 2021 to give continuity to the training activities, an online multimedia course in the language of comics was created and the training course in music therapy started. The activities were carried out partly online and others live, with care for the health safety of all and all participants.

Since 2018 the cartoonist Claudio Calia has been coordinating in collaboration with Karge Comics Studio, which is based at the Tobacco Factory in Sulaymanhya, a series of activities aimed at structuring a school of cartoon in Iraq. Numerous events have been held so far, including the first International Comics Exhibition in Baghdad and several Courses in comic language which was attended by young people from all over Iraq.

The online multimedia course curated by Claudio Calia took place from January to March 2021 with the participation of 19 young people, including 15 girls and 4 boys.
In the first part, in January and February 2021, dedicated to layout and storytelling, the 12 young cartoonists, 8 girls and 4 boys, were followed in a personalized way by Claudio Calia with the activation of a dedicated Classroom. The young people, who had already participated in the introductory courses on the history of comics and basic techniques, acquired specific skills related to their work, through direct confrontation with the trainer. With particular focus, the participants were able to fill their knowledge, immediately applying it to the editorial works they were drawing.
In particular, the techniques of: storytelling, editing, sequence composition and text layout in balloons were deepened.
The stories created by the participants, with direct confrontation with the trainer, will be published in the first comic magazine in preparation in Iraq.

The second part, in March 2021, dedicated to the publication of comics, 7 girls, young cartoonists, took part in the Course in online connection with the cartoonist Claudio Calia at Karge Comics Studio in Sulaymanhya. The course through the use of Classroom has provided moments of in-depth analysis with multimedia lessons and a workshop part.
The topics covered were: editorial graphics for comics, basic elements of independent production, framing of the international market and comic production techniques for foreign countries.
Attention to the foreign market has allowed girls to acquire the skills necessary to present themselves at an international level by learning how to prepare their proposal, in light of the formats prevalent in the various countries, the focus on the choice of the subject and the methods of treatment of history.
The girls who attended the course applied the knowledge acquired to start the creation of 8-page pamphlets dedicated to the concept of the city in the modern era.
The large participation of women was a particularly successful aspect of the Course, because supporting the leading role of young Iraqi women in innovative professional activities is particularly important in a context where women are still severely disadvantaged.

The promotion activities abroad of Iraqi cartoonists will also continue in Italy, after the first exhibition in Italy and the publication of the graphic novel “The latest donna ”by Shirwan Can, with the publication of a new anthology of Iraqi comics.

In December 2019 a first Laboratory was held with a group of young musicians to start the entire training path to be articulated through training at various levels .
In light of the attention verified, it was decided to structure a more specialized training course. Learning to use music therapy requires extensive and articulated training to be able to truly operate in such a delicate field as that of the relationship with people with disabilities and / or subjected to traumatic stress.
During the mission in Iraq at the beginning of 2021, from February to the end of March, the project coordinator and musician Luca Chiavinato held meetings in Iraqi Kurdistan in Erbil, Sulaymanhya and Douhok, in the Plain of Ninve in Mosul, Bartella and Topzawa and in Federal Iraq in Basra and Baghdad to present the salient points of the training to interested young people. which will be carried out in the summer with the expert Chiara Patronella, music therapist and psychotherapist who works in various cooperatives for the disabled. The training activity will be accompanied by laboratory activities in the field in particular on: music therapy and teaching techniques for disability and artistic languages ​​in situations of social hardship, disability and psychological trauma.
The round of meetings was important to make people understand that, with regard to this training course, constancy and continuous presence is all the more necessary, given the delicacy of the activity that is intended to be undertaken also as an employment outlet.
After personalized interviews, they confirmed their willingness to participate in the second level of training in music therapy 15 for girls and boys.

The training courses on comics and music therapy are accompanied by training in recording, arranging and preparing musical products and the making of professional videos and films.
A broad and articulated path to allow as many young Iraqis as possible to enhance their ability to work with artistic languages.
The mission in Iraq was also an opportunity in collaboration with the Ensemble Mshakht, which was created starting from Walking Arts, to realize some musical events, in security, in Mosul and Bertella in collaboration with Un ponteper as well as starting the opening in Duhouk of a first artistic coworking space managed by Iraqi NGO.
Several meetings were held with young artists in Basra and Baghad. In Basra with the informal group Jummar, young artists who deal with music, theater and cinema and who intend to found an artistic academy in the city. In Baghdad with Babylon Film Production, a newly founded NGO, which deals with short films and documentary cinema and intends to promote the first International Film Festival in the Iraqi capital.

Artistic Work with the contribution of Otto per Mille of the Waldensian Church
Walking Arts NGO
Un ponte per

The Project works in synergy with Here Now Together with the funding of the FAI

Cover design by Luna Darwesh