The Invisible Beauty of Iraq is the title of the documentary dedicated to the memory of the Iraqi photographer Laif Al Ani, which Casa Árabe is screening this evening at 7.30 p.m. The screening is taking place as part of the exhibition Baghdad, a modern place, which can be seen in Casa Árabe’s exhibition halls in Madrid until 15 January. The screening is in the original version with Spanish subtitles.
Latif Al Ani (1932 – 2021) was the first photographer to capture cosmopolitan life in Iraq between the 1950s and 1970s and is known as the ‘father of Iraqi photography’. His black-and-white images represent a unique visual memory of the country during its belle époque. In addition to documenting the daily life of a progressing Baghdad, its industries, cityscapes, etc., his work includes unique images of Iraqi cities taken from the air thanks to the aeroplanes that the Iraq Petroleum Company made available to him in order to properly document the modernisation of the country. However, after those years of splendour, with the arrival of Saddam Hussein’s oppressive regime, he stopped photographing. Today, his photographs bear witness to a bygone era. His memory was brought back to light with the exhibition held at the Iraq Pavilion during the 2016 Venice Biennale, which has been followed by others, such as the one currently being held at Casa Árabe.
Latif Al Ani passed away on 18 November last year. The documentary, filmed with him during his lifetime, traces his biography during the 30 years in which he photographed his country before the conflicts in Iraq. When he was 86 years old, he collaborated with the directors of this film by driving his old car around his devastated country in search of the people and places he photographed at the time, sharing his images with Iraqis who today cannot imagine that the world of the photographs was real. Tickets can be purchased at this link.