Mahdey herself had felt a sense of loss after many objects were looted from the National Museum in 2003 as U.S. forces advanced on Baghdad. International media covered stories of widespread looting of museums and archeological sites, which spread fear among the people that their heritage was being lost.
Iraq is still suffering political, social and economic problems. Bombings still occur around the country and many people are living on the edge of poverty. But Malallah believes that “Iraqis, whether inside or outside of Iraq, believe in the concept ‘to be’—not just ‘to be in the present’ but their Mesopotamian heritage can give them hope for a good future.”
Project Benefits Researchers at SOAS
“Co-Existent Ruins” will be on display at the Brunei Gallery of SOAS University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies) until March 19.
John Hollingworth, head of galleries and exhibitions at SOAS, said there has been “a very positive response to the exhibition from members of the Iraqi community in the United Kingdom.”
The exhibition was meant to open in 2020 but had to be postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hollingworth said he was keen to “help and support this project as part of our remit to present exhibitions that reflect the many diverse subjects and regions studied here.” Academics and students from disciplines across SOAS will use the project, he said.
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“It is hoped that SOAS will provide the opportunity for it to continue and develop its work beyond its current scope leading to future exhibitions elsewhere,” Hollingworth said.
Mesopotamia is rich in history and culture, Malallah said. It is where Iraq’s heritage and people come from. “Co-Existent Ruins” shows that with today’s technologies, contemporary art can present a new way of preserving that heritage for generations to come.