Pillars of Blood

Iraqi Bodies - Goteborg, Iraq, Sweden, 2016
Author: Anmar Taha
Directed by: Anmar Taha

about the production

The company Iraqi Bodies oscillates somewhere between physical and dance theatre. Their work is strongly inspired by Antonino Artaudo and Jerzy Grotowsky, what is reflected in the obvious work with body, corporality and physicality. Their repertoire focuses on themes close to absurd theatre and its authors such as S. Beckett or E. Ionesco. Members of the troupe have worked together since 2005. Yet after their director and leader Anmar Taha was hit by a bullet, the team has been working in Sweden under the name of Iraqi Bodies. The dramatic event has left a strong mark not only on their personal lives, but has been permanently transformed in their art. The movement and image essays are narrated through sign and symbol of traumas and questions of existential limits. They confront the world of the East and West in an attempt to overcome the difference, to portray a reality that is seen similarly by all.

The production Pillars of Blood is a movement, philosophical and metaphoric ballad about the absurdity of death, killing, self-destruction, as well as the search for the reason to live. The artists drew from the existential essay The Myth of Sisyphus by Camus (“What is called a reason for living is also an excellent reason for dying”) and from the poetic novel of the end of the 19th century Songs of Maldoror by the Uruguayan and French poet known under the pen name Comte de Lautréamont, in which the allegoric characters of Maldoror (the embodiment of evil and terror) and the Creator come to life The Pillars of Blood is a minimalistic performance based on movement and spoken word. In the virtually empty space bodies illuminated by spotlight emerge from the dark. Sometimes we merely see moving silhouettes or symbols (bourka, red boxer glove, dead solder’s short, red nose of a clown, etc.) that enhance the metaphor of the scenes. The fragments of texts about life, death, suicide, about awareness and wisdom in contrast with the subconscious and longing lead to the final polemic with definition of human rights set out by the United Nations Organisation. Jerky, spasmodic movements are choreographically authentic and captivating. The slow pace plays intentionally with the flow of time and awareness of the set themes. Inhumanity and absurdity of the world is not explicit; hence it is more powerful. A sign here becomes the suggestive carrier of meaning.

The production by the physical theatre Iraqi Bodies explores the “blood-stained pillars of our community”. The civic engagement of the piece along with its political subtext brings to the festival, also through the strong personalities within the company, a desperately needed cultural discourse.
Dáša Čiripová


directed by Anmar Taha
produkction: Iraqi Bodies
co-partner: Angereds Teater
cast: Lena Dahlén, Josephine Gray, Anmar Taha


Anmar Taha (1985), artistic manager and director of the Iraqi Bodies; studied physical performance art at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Fine Arts in Bagdad. He is an experienced director and actor who has been transforming his remarkable imagination into art for 12 years. His works were presented at festivals and in theatres across Europe and in the Middle East. Anmar Taha was hit by a bullet during a religiously motivated attack in 2007 and had to go into hiding. It was only in 2009 when he emigrated to Sweden that he was able to resume his work.


Materials available

Video of the production: yes
Script of the production: SK, EN

If you are interested in these materials, write to archivy@nitrafest.sk