Lecture-Performance – Double-Sided Mirrors: Reports from Baghdad’s Al Rasheed Hotel

Join us for a lecture-performance by artist Ala Younis building on her commissioned artwork Double-Sided Mirrors present in the current exhibition ‘Guest Relations.’

Rumoured to be outfitted with double-sided mirrors to spy on visiting dignitaries, the Al Rasheed Hotel opened in central Baghdad in 1982 as part of a spate of modernist hotels constructed in anticipation of a Non-Aligned Movement Summit. Defiantly planned in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war, the summit was moved to another city after an Iranian fighter pilot crashed his plane near the hotel 

The Rasheed hotel became a base for cultural guests, foreign journalists reporting on the Gulf War and solidarity groups during sanctions. Its entryway floor was famous for a mosaic of George HW Bush, which forced visitors to walk across it. US troops destroyed the mosaic in 2003 and took the hotel, then located in Baghdad’s Green Zone. 

Based on media images of the Al Rasheed Hotel, Ala Younis’ lecture-performance diffracts through the multiple lenses that were reported from inside the hotel’s history and the prism of its custom-made chandeliers.

The lecture-performance will be followed by a Q&A between artist Ala Younis and Murtaza Vali, curator of ‘Guest Relations,’ on view until April 28, 2024.

Open to all and free to attend. 

Following this public programme, visitors are invited to stay for an evening public programme including a series of film screenings and a conversation between artist Noor Abed and art historian Tina Sherwell.

Ala Younis is an artist with curatorial, film and publishing projects. She presented her work in solo exhibitions at the Project Space Art Jameel in Dubai in 2018, and in art institutions in Amman, Sharjah, New York, London, Seville and Prague. She participated in group exhibitions, including biennials in Venice, Istanbul, Gwangju, Ljubljana, Kaunas, Ural and Orleans. She curated the first Kuwaiti Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2013), and co-curated the Singapore Biennale (2022). In 2012, Ala Younis co-founded Kayfa ta, an independent publishing initiative researching, exhibiting and publishing on and through independent publishing endeavours. She is Research Scholar at al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art at New York University Abu Dhabi. Her work Al Bahithūn [the (re)searchers] was presented as part of the ‘Crude’ exhibition curated by Murtaza Vali for Jameel Arts Centre in 2018.

Murtaza Vali (he/him/his) is a critic, curator, and art historian based in Sharjah and Brooklyn. His ongoing research interests include materialist art histories, ex-centric minimalisms, ghosts and other figures of liminal subjectivities and repressed histories, the weight of color and contemporary art of the Indian Ocean littoral. A recipient of a 2011 Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for Short-Form Writing, he publishes regularly in various international art periodicals and in exhibition catalogues for non-profit institutions and commercial galleries around the world, including essays in monographs on the work of Fahd Burki (Jameel Arts Centre/Mousse Publishing, 2023) and Seher Shah (Rizzoli, 2023). Vali is an Adjunct Curator at the Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai, where he curated the widely acclaimed inaugural group exhibition ‘Crude’ (2018), which explored the relationship between oil and modernity across South West Asia. Other current and recent curatorial projects include: ‘Proposals for a Memorial to Partition’ (2022-23), Jameel Arts Centre; Curator-at-large of FRONT International 2022: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art (2022); (with Uzma Rizvi) ‘Accommodations,’ the National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale (2021); and ‘Substructures: Excavating the Everyday’ (2020-22), a series of exhibitions about “intimate infrastructures” in the Gulf at 421 in Abu Dhabi.



You may also be interested in


Guest Relations

November 4, 2023 - April 28, 2024

Galleries, Jameel Arts Centre