The Ruya Foundation collaborated with the Embassy of Canada to host an exhibition of recent work by Iraqi artists inside the International Zone in Baghdad. Though Baghdad’s artistic and international communities live in the same city, they’ve had little interaction. The exhibition aims to bridge this gap.

In June 2015, Ruya’s Baghdad team met with Mr. Robert Bissett, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Canada in Iraq. They talked about the absence of an art market in Baghdad, in which local artists can benefit financially from their work. Though Iraqi art from the diaspora is thriving internationally, artists living within Iraq are cut out from the international art market: there are restrictions on financial transactions between Iraqi residents and the world, and tremendous difficulties shipping art works out of Iraq. Many artists emigrate in search of better opportunities.

So, Ruya decided to bring the artists to the International Zone. The aim of the project was for artists to sell their work, to build relationships internationally, and to help artists integrate in the global art world. Hosting an exhibition inside the International Zone has not been easy, and would not have been possible without the help and support of the Directorate of Cultural Relations at the Ministry of Culture. Access to the area is restricted and few residents of Baghdad are allowed inside. Bringing art works into the International Zone was just as time consuming and extensive as bringing in Iraqi artists.