The Farjam Foundation in Dubai is now displaying Latif Al-Ani's photographs, who is regarded as the father of Iraqi photography. The exhibit of educational yet poetic photographs has been put together by Morad Montazami and tells the story of Al-Ani's compassion for people.
Iranart: Azadeh Jafarian: An exhibition called "Latif Al-Ani: Documenting the Unforgettable and the Forgotten" is currently being presented at the Farjam Foundation in Dubai's DIFC.
The creative work on display confronts the audience with a less-known Iraq, the country's 20 golden years, arising from the old colonialism which conveys the grief as well as the spirit of optimism, light, and life that permeates the architecture and the gaze of the portraits, two entirely different emotions that appear to be widespread among people in some Middle Eastern nations.
The world became aware of the work of Iraqi photographer Latif Al-Aani in 2015, six years before his death, when an exhibition of his photos was on display at the nation's pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Al-Aani was interested in fusing historical and contemporary themes in his photography works; as a result, in addition to depicting historical sites, he also included various elements of Iraqi urban life. Mr. Latif's photos depend heavily on light, which is more than just a photography technique; rather, it alludes to the metaphorical expression of the people in his nation, maybe inspired by the sun that seems never sets there. The master photographer's interest and affection for people can be seen in many of the portraits he has on display at the Farjam Foundation. He has even been known to show love to his downtrodden folks while using his camera, preserving them in history.
From the image of a female musician to the women wearing short skirts while participating in social activities, Al-Ani's unique focus on women and honouring them is the golden leaf of his vision. The standout photo is one of a woman who has been captured by a guy; she is petite and positioned against a large wall in the background, with the photographer's shadow in the foreground, as though he is criticising the patriarchal culture in Iraq and perhaps the region. Another intriguing depiction is a picture of a scared child next to a wall with the phrase "Republic" engraved on it, which depicts the difficult post-colonial Iraqi period.
Al-Ani is regarded as a social documentary photographer in a way. His pictures of the gap in wealth serve as evidence that he was a critic of the overall state of issues in Iraq at the time. The main concern for master Latif was people, human relationships, and establishing human footprints. This concept is illustrated by his curiosity in architecture and the efforts made by architects to modernise Iraq. His interest in the issue is evident from the several photos in this collection that depict the characteristics of repetition and sequence in contemporary Iraqi architecture.
Al-Aani, who was born in Baghdad in 1932 and passed away there in 2021 at the age of 90, was the first to publicly depict genuine life in his native country between 1950 and 1970. The audience has to get a little closer to his work to recognise that it is a photograph because occasionally the photos resemble paintings. His black and white photographs serve as both a priceless human legacy and a singular visual recollection of Iraq during its prime.
The Arab Image Foundation (AIF) in Beirut now has the largest collection of Al-Ani's photographs, and the Farjam Foundation in Dubai is home to other pieces by the pioneer of Iraqi photography.
Three components make up the works on display, according to a news release from Farjam: 1: An expression of Iraqi architecture, from traditional to contemporary. 2: During a 20-year period, Baghdad's image changed from that of an old civilisation to a new portrayal of a post-colonial culture. 3: The analysis of rural survival from an environmental perspective, which demonstrates the way to prevent desertification and preserve palm palms.
The blending of tradition and modernity that Mr. Latif aimed for has now been discovered in the Farjam Foundation's exhibition hall, adjacent to the chic and dazzling windows of luxury retailers in DIFC! "Latif Al-Ani: Documenting the Unforgettable and the Forgotten" exhibition is on view through November 2023.