16 March–16 June 2018
Gallery 4, Al Mureijah Square, Sharjah
Sharjah Art Foundation presents the first UAE solo exhibition of photographer Latif Al Ani’s work, curated by Sharjah Art Foundation Director Hoor Al Qasimi. Spanning three decades, from the 1950s to the 1970s, Latif Al Ani: Through the Lens 1953—1979 includes a wide range of official and personal photographs from Al Ani’s life in Iraq and his travels in other countries.
‘The photographs of Latif Al Ani capture a unique era in the history of Iraq— revealing the dramatic changes that took place over this short but eventful time,’ stated Al Qasimi. ‘Through the artist’s documentation of his surroundings and his later dedication to the archiving of his work, we are, today, able to share this important visual history.’
Al Ani was one of the first photographers to capture cosmopolitan life in Iraq. His photographs represent a unique visual record of the country’s complex culture, politics and industry during a period in which everyday life was increasingly influenced by urbanisation.
Born in 1932 in Karbala, Al Ani learnt photography early in life and trained at the studio of a local photographer. He later joined the Arabic-language magazine Ahl Al Naft [People of Oil], (Iraq Petroleum in English), a publication of the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC), where he worked between 1954 and 1960. After leaving the IPC in 1960, he started working for the Iraqi Ministry of Culture. Featured in the exhibition is his portrait of a woman holding a sheaf of wheat, which became one of Al Ani’s most widely reproduced images and was later engraved on the Iraqi 25,000-dinar note. Al Ani’s photographs during his time at the Iraqi Ministry of Culture and the Iraqi News Agency depicted displays of public life, including rallies, military parades and political events.
Other subjects featured in the exhibition range from portraits of friends and family to landscapes, ancient ruins, architecture and still life.
Al Ani stopped making work in 1979 prior to the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War. He then dedicated his time to conserving and classifying his archive of negatives, which was later acquired by the Beirut-based Arab Image Foundation.
During his career, Al Ani was a member of the Society of Iraqi Photographers and the Syndicate of Iraqi Journalists. His work has been shown in the Museum for Contemporary Art, Ghent, Belgium (2016) and as part of the exhibition Invisible Beauty at the National Pavilion of Iraq, 56th Venice Biennial (2015).
Other exhibitions of his work include Contemporary Arab Representations. The Iraqi Equation, Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona (2006); Collections from Iraq, a project by Yto Barrada, Arab Image Foundation, Beirut (2000); Iraq Today (1965) and Faces and Facets of Iraq (1963).
About Sharjah Art Foundation
Sharjah Art Foundation is an advocate, catalyst and producer of contemporary art within the Emirate of Sharjah and the surrounding region, in dialogue with the international arts community. Under the leadership of founder Hoor Al Qasimi, a curator and artist, the foundation advances an experimental and wide-ranging programmatic model that supports the production and presentation of contemporary art, preserves and celebrates the distinct culture of the region and encourages a shared understanding of the transformational role of art. The foundation’s core initiatives include the long-running Sharjah Biennial, featuring contemporary artists from around the world; the annual March Meeting, a convening of international arts professionals and artists; grants and residencies for artists, curators and cultural producers; ambitious and experimental commissions and a range of travelling exhibitions and scholarly publications.
Established in 2009 to expand programmes beyond the Sharjah Biennial, which launched in 1993, the foundation is a critical resource for artists and cultural organisations in the Gulf and a conduit for local, regional and international developments in contemporary art. The foundation’s deep commitment to developing and sustaining the cultural life and heritage of Sharjah is reflected through year-round exhibitions, performances, screenings and educational programmes in the city of Sharjah and across the Emirate, often hosted in historic buildings that have been repurposed as cultural and community centres. A growing collection reflects the foundation’s support of contemporary artists in the realisation of new work and its recognition of the contributions made by pioneering modern artists from the region and around the world.
Sharjah Art Foundation is a legally independent public body established by Emiri Decree and supported by government funding, grants from national and international nonprofits and cultural organisations, corporate sponsors and individual patrons.
All events are free and open to the public.
Alyazeyah Al Reyaysa