Every Building in Baghdad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives

Every Building in Baghdad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives at Arab Image Foundation, Exhibition USA

Every Building in Baghdad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives

Arab Image Foundation Exhibition, Chicago, Illinois, USA

22 Aug 2016

Every Building in Baghdad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives at the Arab Image Foundation

Design: Nomad Studio, landscape architecture

Every Building in Baghdad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives at the Arab Image Foundation

Where: Madlener House, Graham Foundation, Chicago, USA

When: 15 Sep – 31 Dec 2016

Every Building in Baghdad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives at the Arab Image Foundation on view at the Graham Foundation

September 15 – December 31, 2016

Opening Reception: Thursday, September 15, 6-8:30pm

Talk by curator Mark Wasiuta, 6PM

Every Building in Baghdad
photo – Rifat Chadirji, IRQ/315/186: Offices, Central Post, Telegraph and Telephone Administration, Baghdad, 1975. Photographic paste-ups, 8.27” × 11.69”. Courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation

Chicago, IL (August 25, 2016) — The Graham Foundation is pleased to present Every Building in Baghdad, an exhibition examining the work of Iraqi architect Rifat Chadirji through the collection of his original photographs and building documents held at the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut.

Every Building in Baghdad
photo – Rifat Chadirji, 741 Signs and Advertisements, 10-78-143-8: Decoration for Tammuz month (July) celebrating the revolution and the birth of the Baath party, 1978. Courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation

With the work of his architectural office, Iraq Consult, and in his other professional and intellectual roles, Chadirji became a pivotal cultural figure in Baghdad during the period of its postwar modernization from the 1950s through the 1970s. As an architect, planning consultant, and Director of Buildings for various government agencies, Chadirji was central to the organization of Baghdad and to the consolidation of its postwar image. With nearly one hundred buildings Chadirji helped foster the emergence of the factories, colleges, monopoly headquarters, communication structures, and the other new building types that appear in Baghdad following Iraq’s 1958 revolution.

Every Building in Baghdad exhibition in Chicago
photo – Rifat Chadirji, 670 Production, 9-78-88-34A: Production of pottery, factories, 1978. Courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation

Despite the long historical continuity evoked by his regionally inflected modernism, Chadirji was all too aware of the transformative effects of Iraq’s growing oil economy. His work as a photographer was informed by his exposure to Iraq’s political and cultural precariousness, while it foresaw greater disruption ahead. Over a span of more than twenty years, Chadirji recorded the street life, social practices, and spaces that he believed were threatened by the development driving Iraq’s postwar evolution. Over the same period, he meticulously photographed his own architectural work in an attempt to produce documents that could survive the damage, alteration, and potential destruction of his buildings.

Every Building in Baghdad
photo – Rifat Chadirji, 760 Architecture, 15-82-39-24A: Mixed architecture, commercial building, 1982. Courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation

The threat that lurks within the Chadirji archives reverberates with the current instability in Iraq and Syria and the continuing specter of building destruction and cultural violence. The texture of precarity within Chadirji’s photographs also underscores the institutional project of the Arab Image Foundation and its attempt to assemble, secure, and preserve the photographic history of the Arab World. In this sense, Chadirji’s photographs and building documents exhibit at least three identities: they are an informational system describing every building within his architectural oeuvre; they are a device to preserve the image of Iraq’s experience of modernization; and they are the charged signifiers of collateral damage and the historical and cultural vulnerability that marks the archives of the Arab Image Foundation.

Every Building in Baghdad exhibition in Chicago
photo – Rifat Chadirji, 741 Signs and Advertisements, 10-78-161-4: Decoration for Tammuz month (July) celebrating the revolution and the birth of the Baath party, 1978. Courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation

Every Building in Baghdad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives at the Arab Image Foundation curator Mark Wasiuta notes, “Chadirji’s work is fascinating and not especially well known in the United States. Through it we are able to see architecture contending with the complex forces of modernity and post-colonial life in the Middle East. Even as he was helping form the independent state, Chadirji sensed the fragility of Iraqi culture and envisioned the destruction of his buildings. Taking a cue from his grim clairvoyance, the exhibition enters a discussion about suppressed histories and about the fate of cities, architecture, and culture in conflict zones.”

Displayed in custom armatures throughout the Graham Foundation’s turn-of-the-century Madlener House, the exhibition includes 60 photographic paste-ups documenting Chadirji’s own building projects, as well as hundreds of his photographs shot in the streets of Baghdad from the 1960s to the early 1980s. In the first floor galleries, Chadirji’s documents are surrounded by a folio of etchings he produced in 1984. On the second floor, Chadirji’s photographs are accompanied by those of Iraqi photographer Latif Al Ani. A contemporary of Chadirji, Al Ani chronicled newly emerging urban conditions under the shifting political regimes of the 1950s to the 1970s.

Every Building in Baghdad
photo – Rifat Chadirji, 763 Architecture, 13-81-121-31: Mixed architecture, demolition, 1981. Courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation

Location:
The Madlener House, also known as the Albert F. Madlener House, is a 20th-century mansion located in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, USA. It is the work of architect Richard E. Schmidt and designer Hugh M.G. Garden.

Graham Foundation
Address: 4 W Burton Pl, Chicago, IL 60610, United States
Phone: +1 312-787-4071

The Arab Image Foundation – non-profit organization
Address: Zoghbi Building, 4th floor, 337, Gouraud Street, Beirut, Lebanon
Phone: +961 1 569 373
Founded: 1997

Every Building in Baghdad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives at the Arab Image Foundation images / information received 250816

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The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts awards over $560,000 in Grants to Individuals
Twice a year, the Graham Foundation issues a series of significant grants, first to individuals and then to organizations. The Foundation has just released the list of recipients of the 2017 Grants to Individuals, totaling over $560,000 divided amongst 72 projects.
Graham Foundation Grants in 2017


To see all listed projects on a single map please follow this link.




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Every Building in Baghdad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives

Website: Madlener House Chicago