Index / Activities / Exhibitions / Baghdad, a Modern Place (1958-1978). Latif al Ani

Baghdad, a Modern Place (1958-1978). Latif al Ani

From November 04, 2022 until January 15, 2023Every day from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Closed on sunday 25 december, monday 26 december, and sunday 1 january
Casa Árabe Hall of Columns (at Calle Alcalá, 62, Basement Level). Every day from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Free entry until the room’s capacity is reached.
In Spanish.

As part of the cultural schedule held in “Football for Hope,” which we are holding in parallel with the Qatar World Cup of 2022, Casa Árabe is presenting this exhibition. You can see it in Madrid as of November 4.

It is a twinning with the large exhibition being presented in conjunction with the World Cup by Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art, under the title “Baghdad: Eye’s Delight.” The exhibition has been curated by Spanish architect Pedro Azara with funding from the collection of the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut, and has been loaned by La Virreina Centre de la Imatge in Barcelona, an entity which already presented the exhibition last summer.

“Baghdad, a Modern Place”, curated by Pedro Azara, includes nearly one hundred black and white images from the fifties, sixties and seventies taken by renowned Iraqi architect Latif Al Ani, bearing great witness to the Iraqi capital’s aspirations for modernity and development after the discovery of oil.

Latif Al Ani is possibly the most important Iraqi photographer to date. Active from the 1950s to the late 1970s, his photographs portrayed a country and society that were urbanizing, without leaving behind traditional ways of being and acting due to the rapid changes taking place during that era. He often resorted to irony, showing the first wealthy foreign tourists, bearing no relation to the country, posing in front of ruins from the past, used as a stage backdrop or hunting trophy.

Al Ani worked for Iraq’s Ministry of Information and the Iraqi news agency, and for an illustrated publication of the Iraqi Petroleum Company, documenting the country’s industrialization, in views that were sometimes aerial, detached from reality, seeking images that fit in with the aspirations of a society gaining independence after centuries of Ottoman and British domination.

With Saddam Hussein’s rise to power and the devastating war between Iraq and Iran in 1980, Latif al Ani was banned from taking photographs in public spaces. His name and work vanished, as did the public archives, destroyed during the bombing of Baghdad in 2003. Some, however, donated to the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut, upon mediation by the Moroccan photographer Yto Barrada, have been saved.

After his death in November 2021, Latif al Ani has emerged as a figure since an initial anthological exhibition at the Venice Art Biennale in 2015, which revealed an image of Baghdad and Iraq often forgotten or unknown, breaking away from the image of the country and city most commonplace today. The exhibition now being presented in Doha on the city of Baghdad, as well as the exhibition at Casa Árabe, have brought together a large part of this photographic legacy. 

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