From Adel Abidin's "Three Love Songs" (2010) (via, Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

From Adel Abidin’s “Three Love Songs” (2010) (via, GIF Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

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.

The videos are on display at the New Museum as part of their current Here and Elsewhere exhibition. And you can see some of Saddam Hussein’s original music videos on PBS Frontline‘s website.

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.