The Ruya Foundation has opened a contemporary art library and projection space in Baghdad. The Ruya Shop is located on Mutanabbi Street, which is known for its weekly book market selling used and rare books.
Every week, during the book market’s opening hours, the Ruya Shop will project a selection of video and photography by influential contemporary artists. The programme includes early avant-garde films such as Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand’s Manhatta (1920), Hans Richter’s Rhythmus 2 (1921), Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mecanique (1924) and Germaine du Lac’s La Coquille et le Clergyman (1928) as well as the video works of contemporary artists such as Marina Abramović, Allora and Calzadilla, Francis Alÿs, Joseph Beuys, Jef Cornelis and Bruce Nauman. Ruya’s library of art and photography books, exhibition catalogues and monographs will also be accessible to visitors.
The Ruya Shop aims to overcome some of the challenges of having a publicly accessible contemporary art space in Baghdad. The costs of shipping and insuring artworks are high and there is a marked absence of secure and technically-equipped exhibition spaces. This makes it difficult to bring art works in to the country and to organise cultural events according to museum or gallery standards.