Calendar of Events

Thu 03.15.2012

Iraqi Culture Pre- and Post- Invasion: From Secular to Sectarian

When: 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM THURSDAY, MARCH 15

Where: At The Center   

Iraq expert, architecture critic and author of Dancing in the No Fly Zone, Hadani Ditmars will lead an evening of discussion, readings, video and photography about Iraqi culture. Exploring Iraq’s journey from secular police state to sectarian war zone - one she has documented since 1997- Hadani will present Iraqi music, poetry, theatre and architecture to illustrate how decades of conflict, censorship and sanctions have impacted the former cradle of civilization – and how in spite of this the rohye iraqyee – the indomitable Iraqi spirit – survives.

Her presentation will be followed by a conversation with exiled Iraqi artist Omar Odeh, via skype from Damascus, and Baghdad born artist/scholar/activist Dena Al-Adeeb, who will share a video art project.

Lebanese-Canadian author, journalist, and photographer Hadani Ditmars has reported for two decades from the Middle East, often examining the human costs of sectarian strife as well as cultural resistance to war, occupation and embargo. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Guardian and on the BBC and she is a contributor to Metropolis and Wallpaper and a columnist for the Huffington Post. A former editor at New Internationalist, she travelled to Baghdad to write and photograph a special issue on Iraq in 2010 that included visits to important architectural sites both ancient and modern, as well as dispatches from the Iraqi National Theatre and the last two remaining art galleries in Baghdad. Dancing in the No Fly Zone recounts her time in Iraq from 1997 until late 2003 and is one of the few books that covers pre and post invasion reality from a cultural as well as a political perspective. Her next book, Ancient Heart, is a political travelogue through seven historical sites in Iraq.

Omar Odeh was born in Baghdad in 1973. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the College of Fine Arts in Baghdad in 1998. Omar's work has been shown in numerous exhibitions and galleries in Baghdad, including the College of Fine Arts. In Syria, it has been shown at al-Rua's Art Gallery in Damascus in 2007 and at the Arab Cultural Center and the French Cultural Center in Damascus in 2008. The Four Seasons Hotel in Damascus acquired a collection of his paintings in 2008. Omar regularly shows paintings in NYC through Common Humanity. After threats from religious militias in the wake of the invasion, Omar now resides in Damascus in exile, showing work with UNHCR in Syria, as well. Although his work was recently shown in New York City at the Illuminated Metropolis Gallery, he is unable to obtain a visa to enter the United States.

Dena Al-Adeeb is an artist, scholar, and activist born in Baghdad, Iraq. Forced out of Iraq just before the Iraq/Iran War in 1980, she and her family escaped to Kuwait until the beginning of the 1991 Gulf War, when she was forced to relocate to San Francisco, California. Dena is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. She received her M.A. in Anthropology-Sociology at the American University in Cairo. Her work explores the mappings of imagined/real memories, war, trauma, ritual, architecture and cityscapes. She utilizes a variety of media including installation, performance, painting, sculpting, video and photography. Her work has been presented and performed internationally in Cairo, Tunis, Dubai, Sweden, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Michigan, Chicago, among others. Dena has continued to go back to Iraq throughout the 1980s and 1990s where she has interviewed artists, teachers, mental health professionals and patients, government and religious ministers, as well as many relatives and friends.

Cost: free for AIA members and students; $10 for non-members.

Organized by the Center for Architecture.

A program of the exhibitions Change: Architecture and Engineering in the Middle East, 2000-Present and City of Mirages: Baghdad, 1952-1982 on view at the Center for Architecture.

The presentation of these exhibitions at the Center for Architecture is made possible through the generous support of the following sponsors:


Lead Sponsor:

Eytan Kaufman Design and Development

Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
Dewan Architects & Engineers
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates
NAGA Architects
Ramla Benaissa Architects
RBSD Architects
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
World Monuments Fund


Opening Reception
Wednesday, February 22, 2012, 6-9pm

Change in the Middle East: Preserving the Past, Inventing the Future
Saturday, February 25, 2012, 11am-5pm

LIVE FEED: Middle East Collaborations 2005-2012
Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 6-8pm

Culture and Climate: Contemporary Architectural Responses in the Middle East
Thursday, March 1, 2012, 6-8pm

Guided Exhibition Tour @theCenter
Wednesday, March 14, 2012, 6-7:30pm

Iraqi Culture Pre- and Post- Invasion: From Secular to Sectarian
Thursday, March 15, 2012, 6-8pm

Building ANew: Noor Theatre Presents A Reading of Short Plays by Award-Winning Middle Eastern Playwrights
Friday, March 16, 2012, 7pm

Faster and Bigger: Building in the Middle East
Monday, April 2, 2012, 6-8pm

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Practice in the Middle East
Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 8-9:30am

Architecture in Baghdad, Then and Now
Tuesday, May 1, 2012, 6-8pm

The National Mosque of Baghdad Competition: A Conversation Between Denise Scott Brown, Renata Holod and Frederic Schwartz
Friday, May 4, 2012, 6-8pm

Fridays throughout the exhibition duration starting at 6:30pm
February 24, 2012: About Baghdad (2004) - Q&A with Iraqi poet and writer Sinan Antoon and Pedro Azara, curator of Baghdad, 1952-1982
March 2, 2012: Nice Bombs (2006)
March 9, 2012: Son of Babylon (2010)
March 23, 2012: Daily Baghdad (2004)
April 13, 2012: 16 Hours in Baghdad (2004) - Q&A with Iraqi actor Abbas Noori Abbood


Sorry, this event is sold out.

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