Every Building in Baghdad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives at the Arab Image Foundation
The Graham Foundation
4 W Burton Pl, Chicago, IL 60610, USA
This exhibition examines 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. 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 other new building types that appear in Baghdad following Iraq's 1958 revolution.
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.
The Federation of Industries Building, Baghdad.