Karim Wasfi's Music Despite

In a humble gesture of reparations for the destruction and instability that has resulted from the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, I invite members of the public—especially those from countries that backed the invasion—to join me in supporting Iraqi musicians who play on, despite.

I am specifically raising funds for the transformative work of maestro Karim Wasfi, known for his impromptu cello performances at sites of bombings in Iraq. His Peace Through Art Foundation runs educational, empowering and healing music programs for youth and internally displaced refugees in Iraq. At the end of this campaign all contributions to this Go Fund Me will be transferred to maestro Wasfi, the director of Peace Through Art.

I was humbled to have Maestro Wasfi collaborate with me on my recent project Poetry Despite/Music Despite (Eternal War Requiem) hosted at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in February 2019 and on display until June 2019.  This Go Fund Me campaign is a key part of this project.

Please join me in supporting maestro Wasfi and the music of those who continue to play on, despite.

     —Aaron Hughes


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Thank You for Your Contribution
The first 250 people who make contributions of $45 (~£35) or more, will receive a copy of the Poetry Despite/Music Despite (Eternal War Requiem) LP record. This limited edition LP was recorded live at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. It features cello performances by maestro Karim Wasfi, interspersed with original poetry from Iraqi-American poet Dunya Mikhail, and Iraq War veteran poets Kevin Basl, Carlos Sirah, and project creator Aaron Hughes. Special guests GemArts, a Gateshead arts organization working with Syrian refugee youth, have contributed Hip-Hop and spoken word performances.

As a special thank you, the first 10 people who make contributions of $100 (~£75) or more will receive the Poetry Despite/Music Despite (Eternal War Requiem) LP record, along with an additional liner notes booklet autographed by the contributing artists.

Finally, the first 3 people who make contributions of $2,000 (~£1,500) or more, will receive the Poetry Despite/Music Despite (Eternal War Requiem) LP record, the autographed liner notes booklet, and a signed artist’s proof of one of the nine Poetry Despite/Music Despite (Eternal War Requiem) woodblock prints.

PLEASE NOTE: To receive your special thank you gift, please leave your name and full shipping address in the comments section on the donation page (you may choose to make your information private—otherwise it will be made public on our Go Fund Me site). The LP’s and other gifts will be shipped shortly after their release in June 2019. As Go Fund Me keeps all donor information confidential, if you do not leave your shipping information in the comments section there will be no way for us to send you your gift.


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Poetry Despite/Music Despite (Eternal War Requiem)
This fundraising effort is part of Poetry Despite/Music Despite (Eternal War Requiem), an art project by Aaron Hughes, in collaboration with GemArts, Kevin Basl, Dunya Mikhail, Carlos Sirah and maestro Karim Wasfi. The project connects artists across time and place, from World War I to the “Global War on Terror,” from the UK to Iraq. These connections acknowledge the recurring traumas of war and, conversely, the human connections that happen despite the pain.

The project emerged out of Hughes' personal reflections on Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem (originally written for the 1962 consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral), the nine poems by World War I poet Wilfred Owen featured in the War Requiem, and maestro Karim Wasfi’s “spontaneous compositions,” solo cello performances held at sites of recent bombings in Iraq. These works, along with Hughes's own memories of being a US soldier in Iraq in 2003-2004, resonate with each other. They facilitate connections between the current state of endless war and its historical antecedents. Aptly, Wasfi has said of his cello performances: “I was connecting everything: death, spirits, bodies, life.”  Hughes was inspired to do something similar.

Building off these connections, Poetry Despite/Music Despite (Eternal War Requiem) is comprised of three core elements. The first re-imagines each of Owen’s War Requiem poems, placing this historic work into a contemporary context. These re-imagined works of poetry and hip-hop are accompanied by solo cello performances by maestro Wasfi and presented within the structure of the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead, the same structure Britten used for the War Requiem. These performances are being transformed into a limited edition LP record.

 The second element of the project includes nine large-scale woodblock prints that visualize the relationship between the horrors of World War I and the ongoing “Global War on Terror.” The prints respond to Owen’s nine poems in the War Requiem, while exploring current issues, including state-sanctioned extrajudicial killing, torture and detention, the refugee crisis, the rise of extremism, and the failure of states. 

The third element reflects on the music and poetry created by those most impacted. In a humble gesture towards reparation for the destruction and instability that has resulted from the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Hughes donated his artist fee to maestro Wasfi. He invites members of the public—especially those from countries that supported the invasion of Iraq—to join him in this gesture by supporting Iraqi musicians who play on despite through this Go Fund Me page. 

Poetry Despite/Music Despite (Eternal War Requiem) is on display at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art until June 2019.

For more information visit poetrydespite.online 


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Go Fund Me campaign cover photo source CNN

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Organizer and beneficiary

Aaron Hughes 
Organizer
Chicago, IL
Karim Wasfi 
Beneficiary
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