“One. Mickey Mouse is not one of the bronze figures that grace Jewad Salim’s “Nusub al-Hurriya” (Liberty Monument”, 1961) in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square…”
On the occasion of Ala’s first showing of her Plan for a Greater Baghdad (2015) at Delfina Foundation in London along with a new work; Plan for Feminist Greater Baghdad (installation view above; photo Tim Bowditch, courtesy DF and Art Jameel), I should share this text of mine (below in page by page pdfs) since it is not yet re-published in book form. It was commissioned as an independent text and explicitly not as a critique of the work itself. This was not because a serious critical piece on the work would not be good to read or write but because I wanted to extend my e.things essay form and write more broadly about subjects that I had some intimacy with over many years.
Figuring Lesser Baghdadis (One to Seven) belonged with another such text from 2015, Labouring One to Seven (Island of Terror) produced for Venice Biennale and e-flux journal‘s brilliant SUPERCOMMUNITY project, now re-published by Verso with an Introduction by Antonio Negri. The latter was explicitly the model for the former. It was also a “small collaboration” to use Ala’s phrase when we discussed it in 2015. Her project as a whole is partly formed of/founded on words and richly self-contained. Camera Austria (scroll down) published a version of the imagery in the pages that are missing from the ones below, although I have included the one that shows the seven figures that make up part of Ala’s project, for ease of reference.
Don’t miss the new version of this work before it closes on the 24th March (old and new versions are on show). It features the integral contributions and developments of Balkis Sharara, Nuha al-Radi, an unknown young woman, Fahrelnissa Zeid, Iman Mersal and Zaha Hadid. You may find my richly condensed text helps propel you to go to the exhibition (go!) and encourages you around and beyond the work too. I am not aware of any other writing I can recommend for the same purpose, sadly.
NB Lastly, Camera Austria were a joy to work with in all ways, including the wonderful diligence of the translator Wilfried Prantner. Unfortunately, the German text reads correctly, highlighting the fact that the English one has put two extra paras at the end of segment Two which should be at the start of Segment 3!