The Shopping Mall Experience

15 Nov

Arriving at the Majidi Shopping Mall

We drove to the new Majidi Shopping Mall part of the recent urban sprawl of Erbil. The gleaming new structure houses a 6-D Cinema, yes 6-D, Mango, Levi’s and Nike are sold alongside lots of little known fashion labels. In one part of the mall a lingere shop sat opposite a boutique that sold tradional islamic dress for women. Definatly not a place for shoplifters as mall security all sported new AK-47s. Upon arrival.we had to walk through a metal detector and all men are frisked.

The center atrium displayed an exhibition organized by the US Embassy that was uncharacteristically reflexive for an official exhibition. The show was composed of various historical photographs documenting tours of musicians to sites of conflict and/or ideological foes of the US. The information placards described how musicians apparently helped to ease relationships with the various countries: Louis Armstrong’s 1960 visit to Congo and later to Egpyt; as well as Dizzie Gillespie trip to Poland and the former USSR in the 70s. Looking at the exhibition, we were overcome by the strange impression that the photographs, documenting the cultural ambassadors of goodwill, were acting upon us at that very moment. There seemed to be no irony in the fact that the work selected was meant to impart a similar political agenda as the photos. In this case to ease an occupation.

Upstairs in the food court, near a Chester’s Chicken and a sign announcing the arrival of a Burger King, we saw the first two uniformed US soliders of our trip. Two men with crew cuts dressed in desert fatigues with large boots sat at a table in a meeting with a Kurdish woman.

The mega-mall

The American Embassy Photography Exhibition

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