Ali's Boat


Consisting  of 3 Animation films, a series of drawings, notebooks, paintings, letter and a boat. The main short film animation is "Ali's Boat" 06:37, made of charcoal drawings, Full HD, black & white. The work was inspired by a letter given to the artist from his young nephew in Baghdad – Iraq, wishing that his letter and his drawing of a boat in it would carry him away from his land to the Netherlands, where his uncle-the artist lives.


> Ali’s original letter, 2009, 20 x 29 cm. Ballpoint pen on paper.


"Ali is a young boy who I met in Baghdad for the first time in 2009. He was 8 years of age then, and we only saw each other for a few days in the family house. Ali is my nephew, the youngest.

The morning I left Baghdad, he handed me a closed envelop which he sincerely asked me not to open till I reach my home in the Netherlands.

I promised and kept my promise, as I only opened his nicely decorated envelop when I reached home with my little family. In it he had a letter with the names of my children and his. In the middle a drawing of a little canoe-like boat with only one simple sentence written, saying: “I wish my letter takes me to you.” 

One simple, honest sentence and a boat which held his dreams… As if he hoped that these words and that letter if opened in the right place in the right time would perform a kind of magic, his own Abracadabra or Open Sesame, with which he can go far, far away just the way he used to go on this boat in his dreams. His letter in a closed envelop was his attempt to escape reality, with a boat and a few words, to a strange world of fantasy. 

He had put his dream on a boat not knowing that his humble boat had carried me to him instead of bringing him to me. He didn’t know that his boat was actually my boat that I used to dream of, a boat that I could take to leave my house, my family and my homeland when I was young, eager to escape the misery and explore the world. And it is now the same boat I dream of to carry me back there as a child, embracing the playgrounds of my childhood which spread between the thresholds of our house up to the vast horizons.

My work is mainly built around that letter, the image of Ali’s boat and my own impressions of that world of childhood where I grew up and where Ali is now."

> From the artist statement, 2014.


Ali's Baot

06:37 minutes, sound, 2015.


A Letter

05:04 minutes, Silent, 2015.


Flying over Baghdad

05:28 minutes, Silent, 2015.


> Traditional small Boat (Mashhof) from the Southern Iraqi Marshes. Built there artisanally at the artist's request and specifications, 2014.


Selected stills / frames


Ali's Boat Diary 1

2014, 100 drawing pages, 19 x 16 cm. Indian ink and charcoal on notebook paper.

> 46 selected images of 100 pages.

> "Though perhaps a white horse is waiting for you, with its wings and hooves"


Ali's Boat Diary 2

2014, 87 drawing pages, 21 x 14.5 cm. Indian ink and charcoal on notebook paper.

> 45 selected images of 87 pages.


Ali's Boat Diary 3

2014, 17 drawing pages, 14 x 10 cm. Nero pencil on notebook paper.

some of these diary drawings were also produced as print edition size 82 x 59 cm.

> 14 selected images from 61 pages.


Selected Paintings

> Take Your Boat and Abundant Your Home, 2014, 270 x 678 cm. Indian ink, charcoal on canvas.


> Flying over Baghdad, 2014, 270 x 678 cm. Indian ink, charcoal, printed paper on canvas.


> Don't put All Your Dreams in One Boat, 2014, 270 x 390 cm. Indian ink, charcoal, printed paper on canvas.


> A dream within a dream, 2015, 99 x 415 cm. (A double face painting), Front face: Indian ink, rice paper on linen - Back face: Indian ink on linen


> A dream within a dream, 2015, 87 x 373 cm. (A double face drawing), Indian ink on paper.



Installation view at several venues

> Selected images from: British Museum ; Red Star Line Museum, Antwerp ; 56th Venice Biennale (Eye of the Thunderstorm Pavilion) ; Ayyam Gallery, Dubai - Bierut ; Tanit Gallery, Beirut - Munich.


© Sadik Kwaish Alfraji