The three-part work Like a Good, Good, Good Boy (2023) interconnects three places that loomed large in Hiwa K’s childhood and youth: his family’s modest home, now a ruin; the old school; and the notorious Amna Suraka prison, where, between 1979 and 1991, Saddam Hussein’s henchmen tortured, raped, and murdered countless men, women, and children.
In the central video projection, a camera drone pans along a thick rope that, stretched across rooftops and streets, literally ties the three buildings and institutions together. With a total length of 1500 meters, the rope also intertwines the stories and histories of the sites. A second video shadows Hiwa K as he walks through his school. He recalls the hellish routines of studying under the teachers, some of whom also worked as torturers at the prison, as well as the dangers posed by friends and even one’s own family and early gestures of futile resistance.
In a third video, Hiwa K and former classmates gather on the rooftop of the school, which they had never been allowed to go up to, and share their experiences under the regime, revisiting, now “from above” and from a distance, the pain and anguish they suffered. They follow the rope, first into the classrooms, then into the prison’s interior. The ensuing conversation makes clear that Saddam Hussein’s system deformed generations of citizens, bending people and breaking them—initially with support from the U.S. After Hussein, the ideology of free markets prevailed, bringing the unforgiving demands of a global Anglocentric labor market for which young people were to be prepared, always at the expense of their Kurdish culture, whose systematic repression is evident everywhere.