Commissioned by former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, the songs in Adel Abidin’s “Three Love Songs” (2010) are transformed into sinister pop music videos that use attractive blonde women as conduits for the fallen dictator’s propaganda. Told to perform the songs, in a language they do not understand, as traditional love ballads, the women are sultry and saccharine. Staged like a cabaret performance, the video puts the artifice of nationalism in the spotlight along with each singer. It is a world of manipulated desire that’s more familiar than we’d like to admit — it is culture as a tool of the powerful.
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