A ‘Magnificent Pavilion’ – Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times

‘Excellent’ – Holland Cotter, The New York Times

‘Awash with social conscience’ – The Economist

The Ruya Foundation is pleased to present the National Pavilion of Iraq at the 57th Venice Biennale, 13 May – 26 November 2017. The exhibition, ‘Archaic’, shows the work of eight Modern and contemporary Iraqi artists in dialogue with 40 ancient Iraqi artefacts drawn from the Iraq Museum and spanning six millennia, from the Neolithic Age to the Parthian Period. Most of these objects have never previously left Iraq, excluding a few that were recently recovered after the 2003 lootings of the Museum. The exhibition is also accompanied by a new commission by internationally acclaimed Belgian-born artist Francis Alÿs on the subject of war and the artist. ‘Archaic’ is the third occasion on which the Ruya Foundation has commissioned the National Pavilion of Iraq at Venice.

The tension in the term ‘Archaic’ is drawn from its multivalent references to the ancient and primordial, as well as what is currently out of use. The exhibition draws out this tension to emphasise its particular relevance to Iraq, a country whose existing political, administrative, social and economic reality is arguably as ‘archaic’ as its ancient heritage. The exhibition is co-curated by Tamara Chalabi (Chair and Co-Founder of the Ruya Foundation) and Paolo Colombo (Art Adviser at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art).

The exhibition attracted over 5,500 visitors during the preview week of the Biennale, and was critically acclaimed by the press. It featured as a highlight of the Biennale in the Financial Times, The New York Times, ArtforumCNN, BBC News, The Times, The Australian, Artsy and The Art Newspaper among other outlets.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Mousse, including texts by Francis Alÿs, AndreaApplebee, Zainab Bahrani, Joumane Chahine, Roger Cook, Ed Kashi, Kalliopi Minioudaki, Venetia Porter, Nada Shabout, Robert Storr and Aneta Szyłak.

Preview Week and Opening Reception

Visitor Information

‘Archaic,’ The National Pavilion of Iraq, 13 May – 26 November

Location: Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti, Grand Canal, San Marco, 2847, Venice

Nearest Vaporetto: Accademia

Entrance: free

Opening times: 10am – 6pm daily. Closed on Mondays.

Download Press Release