Following an invitation from the Ruya Foundation, the Belgian-born artist Francis Alÿs spent nine days in October and November 2016 embedded with the Kurdish Army, or Peshmerga, on the Mosul front line during their campaign to liberate the second-largest city of Iraq from ISIS. The paintings produced in Mosul  are on view at the Iraqi pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale, as part of the show “Archaic,” which runs from May 13 through November 26.

Spread in Alÿs’s notebook from his embedment in Mosul, 2016 (Source: artforum)

In Artforum online he shares some of the notes he took during his embedment, as he grappled with questions of the artist’s role in war and the reality of nomadism and terror.

Francis Alÿs, untitled, Mosul (selfie), 2016 (Source: artforum)