Plan for Feminist Greater Baghdad by Kuwait-born, Jordan-based artist Ala Younis will include a major new installation featuring two works co-commissioned by London and Dubai-based organisations. The 2018 work pays tribute to the contributions of key female figures in the growth of modern Baghdad.
Drawing from found materials, documents and oral histories to create new narratives, Younis references numerous individuals including architect Zaha Hadid, who influenced architectural students in the 1990s; artist Fahrelnissa Zeid, who was married to the Iraqi Ambassador in London when Le Corbusier received approval of his design for a structure in Baghdad; artist Nuha al-Radi, whose diaries from the early 90s described real daily life in Baghdad; and Balkis Sharara, wife of seminal author Rifat Chadirji, who helped him transport his texts in and out of Abu Ghraib prison during his incarceration, allowing him to pen three additional novels.
The work is also a new take on Younis’s 2015 Plan for Greater Baghdad, which explored monuments by male architects who worked under governmental commissions in a brief moment of empowerment as Iraq’s political landscape shifted. With the original project’s basis rooted in the history of a Baghdadi gymnasium designed by Le Corbusier named after Saddam Hussein, Younis’s investigation delved into archives, found material and the stories of its male protagonists to reveal concerns around the protection of monuments and the creation of plans for Baghdad as an expression of power.
While the 2015 version featured in the Central Exhibition curated by Okwui Enwezor at the 56th Venice Biennale, this marks the first time the two research-based works will show together, presented with inkjet prints, drawings, digital sculptures and 3D printed models to outline a dialogue from opposing gender perspectives of Iraq’s male-dominated architectural and political scene and the pervasive female influence.
Artjameel.org and Delfinafoundation.com