Latif Al Ani posing with his camera in Iraq.

Exhibition Banner for Through the Lens

Exhibition Lecture: Artists in Conversation

Adel Abidin, Nadine Hattom, Hanaa Malallah, Mahmoud Obaidi, and Walid Siti

This lecture will take place online; a Zoom link will be provided via email to registered participants.

Registration is required at THIS LINK.

Please join us as Roberta Casagrande-Kim, Co-curator of ISAW’s Through the Lens: Latif Al Ani’s Visions of Ancient Iraq exhibition, hosts a conversation with artists Adel Abidin, Nadine Hattom, Hanaa Malallah, Mahmoud Obaidi, and Walid Siti as they discuss the genesis of this project. The artists will address the themes of the exhibition, discuss their works in relation to Latif Al Ani's pictures and Nineteenth century excavation practices, and evaluate the role of art in the depiction and understanding of ancient Iraq.

Adel Abidin is an Iraqi multi-media artist who received his BA in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad (2000), before leaving to Finland to earn his MFA in time and space arts at the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsiniki (2005). Currently living between Helsinki and Amman, Jordan, his work explores the complex interrelationships between visual arts, politics, and identity.

Nadine Hattom is an Iraqi-Australian artist born in Baghdad to a Mandaean (an ethno-religious group from southern Iraq) family. Her family emigrated to United Arab Emirates shortly after the Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988) began, where they stayed for nine years before moving to Australia. She now lives and works in Berlin. Working with photography and sculpture Hattom’s work is an exploration of space and place, unravelling narratives of migration, region, representation, landscape and nature

Hanaa Malallah was born in Dhi Qar Governate on the fringes of the ancient city of Ur. An early interest in archaeology and art led her to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad, where she received her doctorate in the philosophy of painting in ancient Mesopotamia. Malallah’s background in both art and archaeology provides her with a unique insight on archaeological practice and cultural heritage in Iraq. Malallah left Iraq in 2006, and now lives in exile in London alongside other Iraqi artists. Her current work focuses on the theme of “ruination” and explores her personal perspectives of the ancient and modern ruins in the landscape of Iraq. She sees ruins not as inert traces of the past, but as living landscapes that shape the present and future. Ancient ruins are imbued with vitality, inspiring rejuvenation and transformation through a glorious past. In contrast, modern rubble is traumatic: embodying the chaos and destruction of recent conflicts. These contradictory states are in a constant dialogue that can be used to engage Iraqi people with their heritage. This leads Malallah to beg the question, Can ruins not only act as windows to the past, but also to a hopeful future for Iraq?

Mahmoud Obaidi is an Iraqi-Canadian artist, who received his BA in Fine Art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad in 1990. The following year, he left Iraq and spent a number of years without a permanent home, travelling around the world, eventually landing in Doha and Beirut where he currently lives and works. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a watershed moment for Obaidi, where he witnessed the destruction of the Baghdad—his home for much of his life. From that moment, he saw how Iraq’s story became written by Americans (rather than Iraqis) and it represented the death of his ability and desire to return to his country.

Walid Siti grew up in Dohuk, Iraqi Kurdistan. His father had communist leanings and a strong sense of social justice—an upbringing that instilled in Siti the same sense. Siti’s work often encourages the viewer to consider disenfranchised groups or those how have been forgotten or silenced. He left Iraq in 1976, only a few years before Saddam Hussein’s rise to power in 1979, and eventually settled in London in 1984, where he remains today.

This lecture is given in conjunction with ISAW's exhibition Through the Lens: Latif Al Ani’s Visions of Ancient Iraq. This exhibition and its accompanying catalogue were made possible by generous support from the Violet Jabara Charitable Trust and the Leon Levy Foundation. Additional funding was provided by Joyce F. Menschel and Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Tucker.

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