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Co-Existent Ruins: Exploring Iraq’s Mesopotamian past through contemporary art

A project led by Iraqi-British artist and academic Hanaa Malallah, living in London since 2007, working in collaboration with Iraqi artists at specific ancient sites inside Iraq; this project/ research is on exhibit at the SOAS / Brunei Gallery from 18 January until 18 March 2022.

The project Coexistent Ruins: Exploring Iraq’s Mesopotamian past through contemporary art is a long term, interdisciplinary, expanded-media, collaborative project that seeks to address how it might be possible to have renewed engagements with four ancient heritage sites, identified as Mesopotamian (Ur, Babylon, Nippur and Nimrud) as well as the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, by local Iraqi artists in post-conflict Iraq. These sites, while still providing security guards and space for international archaeological research, have become derelict during the recent traumatic wars and conflicts. The project has the specific aim of exploring the critical question of how contemporary collaborative art projects conducted at these key archaeological sites can enable a renewed engagement with this ancient heritage and history. This project explores the capacity for a form of artistic research that attends to political and social context, and a new aesthetic where ancient Mesopotamia heritage, known as ‘‘the cradle of civilization” is reclaimed for Iraq’s current traumatic identity, and for its people’s future.

Hanaa Malallah, has been working in collaboration with the following Iraqi artists at specific ancient sites inside Iraq:

  • The Ziggurat at Nuffar/Ancient Nippur/Al Qadisiyyah. With Fatimah Jawdat.
  • The Ziggurat at Ancient Ur/Tell al Muqqayar/Nasiriyah and its surroundings. With Reyah Abd Al-Redah.
  • The Ruins of Ancient Babylon/Babil

Project Founder/Research Director:  Dr. Hanaa Malallah
Project Partner: Dr Mo Throp
Project Team:

Exhibition Designer:
Stuktur Design

Archaeological Adviser:
Prof Zainab Bahrani

Iraqi Artists:
Fatimah Jawdet (Nufar/Ancient Nippur/Al Qadisiyyah)
Raya Abd Al-Redah (Ancient Ur /Tell al Muqqayar/ Nasiriyah)
Rozghar Mustafa
Betoul Mahdey

Invited Artist
Michael Rakowitz

with thanks to:
John Hollingworth: Head of Brunei Galleries and Exhibitions

With support from:
Royal University for Women, Bahrain
Artzotic
The Park Gallery
The Brunei Gallery
UAL, University of The Art London

Photo credit: courtesy of (c) Brunei Gallery, SOAS -
Hanna Malallah at the opening of Co-Existent Ruins
Photo credit: courtesy of Brunei Gallery, SOAS - (c) Hanaa Malallah
Drawings by Hanaa Malallah shown in Co-Existent Ruins exhibition at Brunei Gallery, SOAS
Photo credit: courtesy of (c) Brunei Gallery, SOAS
Image taken from the Co-Existent Ruins exhibition by Hanaa Malallah at Brunei Gallery, SOAS
Photo credit: courtesy of Brunei Gallery, SOAS - (c) Hanaa Malallah
Drawings by Hanaa Malallah shown in Co-Existent Ruins exhibition at Brunei Gallery, SOAS
Photo credit: courtesy of Brunei Gallery, SOAS - (c) Hanaa Malallah
Drawings by Hanaa Malallah shown in Co-Existent Ruins exhibition at Brunei Gallery, SOAS
Photo credit: courtesy of (c) Brunei Gallery, SOAS
Image taken from the Co-Existent Ruins exhibition by Hanaa Malallah at Brunei Gallery, SOAS

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