Ala Younis’ solo exhibit includes a newly commissioned work and is held simultaneously in London and Dubai.
Art Jameel and Delfina Foundation are in collaboration to present a two-part solo exhibition in London and Dubai of Kuwait-born, Jordan-based Ala Younis’ work titled Plan for Feminist Greater Baghdad. These simultaneous exhibitions build on her 2015 work, Plan for Greater Baghdad, included in the 56th Venice Biennale and curated by Okwui Enwezor, now updated as Plan (fem.) for Greater Baghdad (2018).
Plan (fem.) for Greater Baghdad highlights the significant contributions made by female artists, architects and other influential characters to the development of Baghdad and its modern monuments. In the original work, Younis considered how monuments by architects made for governments gained a short state of empowerment as politics shifted in Iraq. The work was made up of images and maquettes, while drawing from archival and found material and the stories of its male protagonists. The project anchored itself within the history of a gymnasium in Baghdad designed by Le Corbusier and named after Saddam Hussein. It explored issues relating to the protection of “monuments for posterity, and the creation of plans for Baghdad as either, an expression of power, or as a necessity.” For the newly commissioned work, Younis celebrates the contributions of female figures in the growth of modern Baghdad, including architect Zaha Hadid, poet Iman Mersal, Balkis Sharara, wife of seminal author Rifat Chadirji, who helped him transport his texts in and out of Abu Ghraib prison during his incarceration, and artists Fahrelnissa Zeid and Nuha al-Radi.
Typical of Younis’s investigative practice, these two bodies of work brought together for the first time articulate archival material to bring about new narratives, and in this case seek to go beyond the male dominance of the city’s architecture and politics, to reveal the significance of female influence on Baghdad’s history.
Ala Younis’ Plan for Feminist Greater Baghdad is on view at Delfina Foundation in London until March 24, and at Project Space Art Jameel in Dubai from March 1-April 14
Featured Image: Ala Younis, Plan (fem.) for Greater Baghdad, 2018, detail, Ala Younis at 56th Venice Biennale. Photo Isabella Balena. Courtesy la Biennale di Venezia. Photo Alessandra Chemollo. Courtesy la Biennale di Venezia.