The Works Were Limited: Baghdad and Her Architects
By Ala Younis
The Saddam Hussein Gymnasium was designed by Le Corbusier, and metamorphosed through numerous iterations of plans over twenty-five years before it was inaugurated in Baghdad in 1980. Heavily based on archives, found material, and the stories of its protagonists, the artist’s project Plan for Greater Baghdad (2015) looked into the making of this gymnasium as part of performing plans for Baghdad as an expression of power, and at the men who appear in these plans as they gesture their parts in the denouements of the historical time. In 2018, the whole work was reproduced in an all-female voice. Titled Plan (fem.) for Greater Baghdad (2018), it located the place of women within these plans, looking beyond the dominant narratives to the unwritten local dynamics/legacies in and outside Iraq. This lecture analyzes the words chosen by the female architects, interns, artists, poets, jury members, wives, and other protagonists who inspired, informed, and critiqued the research and presentation of Plan (fem.) for Greater Baghdad.
About Ala Younis
Ala Younis is an artist, with research, curatorial, film and publishing projects. Her work has been featured in numerous exhibitions and publications worldwide. Her project “Plan for Greater Baghdad” (2015) premiered at 56th Venice Biennale’s “All the World’s Futures”, and the female edition of it was shown at the Gwangju Biennial (2018), and in solo shows in London, Dubai, and New York. Ala Younis curated the first Kuwaiti Pavilion at the Venice Biennale; and the Museum of Manufactured Response to Absence collection. She holds a B.Sc. in Architecture from University of Jordan, and a Masters of Research from Goldsmiths, University of London. She is on the Advisory Board of Berlinale’s Forum Expanded, and co-founder of Kayfa ta, a non-profit publishing initiative that have published Arabic and English editions of five how to titles.