Current Projects

Ruya Notebooks

Ruya Notebooks is a new educational publishing initiative. For each Notebook a well known artist, curator or critic will select texts that they have identified as fundamental to their creative development. These texts are then translated into Arabic, in most cases for the first time, and the resultant Notebook distributed for free to artistic communities in Iraq and…

Ruya Shop: A Contemporary Art Space and Library in Baghdad

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…

Ruya Labs

Ruya Labs will be hosted throughout the year in Baghdad, with the aim of nurturing creativity, freedom of expression and international collaborations between artists and cultural professionals. Our past labs are listed below.

Past Projects

Exhibition: Latif Al Ani, Founding Father of Iraqi Photography

The Ruya Foundation is pleased to announce the first UK exhibition of Iraqi photographer Latif Al Ani (b. 1932) at the Coningsby Gallery in Fitrovia. ‘Latif Al Ani’ will run 4 December – 16 December 2017. The exhibition will include over 50 works surveying the artist’s practice from the 1950s to the 1970s. Considered the…

Book: ‘A Golden Age in Iraq’ the first monograph of the work of Latif Al Ani

Latif Al Ani (b. 1932, Baghdad) is known as the founding father of Iraqi photography. From the 1950s to the 1970s, during a period of increased cosmopolitanism and openness in the country, he was prolific in documenting everyday life in Iraq. His vast archive, of black-and white realist photographs, provides a unique record of mid-twentieth…

Exhibition: ‘Invisible Beauty’ at the Erbil Citadel

‘Invisible Beauty’ attracted over 20,000 visitors at the Venice Biennale, between May and November 2015. After transferring to S.M.A.K. (Museum for Contemporary Art) in Ghent in May 2016, the exhibition will be re-staged in the Erbil Citadel in an 18th-century merchant’s dwelling, the Salih Chalabi House. The Erbil Citadel was placed on the UNESCO World…

‘Archaic’ the Iraq Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale

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…

Exhibition: ‘Calling Calouste: New Iraqi Photography’

Ruya has commissioned ‘Calling Calouste’, an exhibition of new Iraqi photography. The show will be held at the Ministry of Culture’s Gulbenkian Building in Baghdad that opens on 1 October. The exhibition, conceived by Ruya’s Iraq Director, Furat al Jamil, in close collaboration with the artists, brings together young, emerging and established photographers from across…

Exhibition: Ruya partners with the 5th International Çanakkale Biennial

The Ruya Foundation has partnered with the 5th International Çanakkale Biennial, in Turkey, to show new work by artists Akam Shex Hadi and Salam Atta Sabri. Opening on 24 September 2016, this six-week exhibition will explore the theme of Homeland. Both artists have been commissioned by the Ruya Foundation to produce new work around this…

Art Fair: Non-profit booth at Art16

As part of Ruya’s efforts to create international opportunities for, and foster recognition of, Iraqi contemporary artists working both in Iraq and abroad, Ruya took part as a non-profit booth at Art16 art fair in London. Ruya presented work by 12 contemporary Iraqi artists working across a range of media including painting, photography, ceramics, textile,…

Exhibition: ‘Baghdad Exhibition’ of Contemporary Iraqi Art in the International Zone

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,…

Book: Traces of Survival: Drawings by Refugees in Iraq selected by Ai Weiwei

In December 2014 Ruya launched a campaign to provide drawing materials to adult men and women in refugee camps. Ruya visited Camp Shariya, Camp Baharka and Mar Elia Camp and over five days the Foundation collected 546 submissions, including drawings, poetry and prose, all of which will be on display. The submissions present powerful responses…

Database of Iraqi artists

Ruya holds an extensive and unique database of artists working within Iraq, spanning all disciplines from visual arts to theatre and music. We continually strive to promote these artists through collaborative efforts with cultural institutions globally. In April 2016, a portion of this database was made publically accessible, as an online research tool. The Ruya…

‘Invisible Beauty’, the Iraq Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale

The Ruya Foundation commissioned Invisible Beauty, the exhibition for the Iraq Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale. Curated by Philippe Van Cauteren, Artistic Director of S.M.A.K., Ghent, Invisible Beauty features five contemporary artists from across Iraq and the diaspora: two generations of Iraqi photographers, in the shape of Latif Al Ani and Akam Shex Hadi, visual artist Rabab Ghazoul, ceramicist and…

Project: Iraq’s First Drama Therapy Project

The Ruya Foundation launched a drama therapy project for children and young people with funding from the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development. The project culminated in a performance at the Muntada Theatre in Baghdad on 3 October 2015 by a group of 15 participants between the ages of 12 and 17. The group, named…

Exhibition: Saddam is Here, Jamal Penjweny, Ikon Gallery, UK

The artist Jamal Penjweny presented his first solo exhibition Saddam is Here at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham. To celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2014, Ikon held a series of solo exhibitions highlighting key artists, such as Hurvin Anderson and Julian Opie. Download press release.

Exhibition: Neighbours, Istanbul Modern

The Ruya Foundation presented two Iraqi artists, US-based painter Hayv Kahraman, and Baghdad-based filmmaker Furat al Jamil in Neighbours, an exhibition of contemporary art from Turkey and surrounding countries including Azerbaijan, Greece and Iran, at Istanbul Modern. Hayv Kahraman presented her series ‘Meditations’ and Furat al Jamil screened Baghdad Night, a modern reworking of an Iraqi folk tale,…

Film: Baghdad Night at the Dubai International Film Festival

Ruya co-produced Baghdad Night, an animation film based on an Iraqi folk tale by artist and filmmaker Furat al Jamil. The short film premiered at the Dubai International Film Festival in November 2013. It was then exhibited at the Neighbours exhibition at Istanbul Modern, a leading contemporary art gallery in Turkey.

Book: Welcome to Iraq Exhibition Catalogue, 2013

The Welcome to Iraq exhibition catalogue launched with ‘Welcome to Iraq,’ the Iraq Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale. It includes texts by curator Jonathan Watkins and Ruya’s chairman Tamara Chalabi, as well as recent photographs of everyday life in Baghdad, Babylon, Basra, Erbil and Sulaimaniya by the photographer Ayman al-Amiri. The book is available from the Ikon Gallery’s…

‘Welcome to Iraq’, the Iraq Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale

Ruya commissioned the National Pavilion of Iraq for the 55th Venice Biennale. The exhibition, Welcome to Iraq, was the first to present Iraqi artists living and working in Iraq at an international art platform. Curator Jonathan Watkins, director of the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, and Ruya chairman Tamara Chalabi toured the country, visiting artists in their studios.…