The Iraqi Collective Using Contemporary Art to Make A Difference

The concept space in Baghdad supporting emerging artists

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Whilst Beit Tarkeeb is a pretty regular building on the outside, step inside and every room is decked out with standout artwork from Baghdad’s defiant youth. Despite not being very well-known outside of Iraq, since its founding in 2015 the space has been a multi-purpose site used to develop crafts, create work, attend workshops and exhibit finished pieces. 

Situated in the Karrada neighbourhood, Beit Tarkeeb is a creative space for young people working across the visual arts, including performing arts, films, music, literature, photography and interior design.

Beit Tarkeeb Iraqi CollectiveAs confirmed by artist and founding member of Beit Tarkeeb, Zeid Saad, in an intevrview with the Arab Weekly, “We are an NGO that promotes contemporary arts for young talent aged 15-35 who wish to express their ideas through a variety of art genres, especially music, acting and dancing”. 

He went on to state the aims of Beit Tarkeeb, “Our goal is to spread the culture of peace and its values. Art is our means to communicate our principles and alternatives to rampant violence wrecking the Iraqi society”.

The art produced is a way for young people to represent their local experiences in creative and productive ways, using art as a powerful tool for social and political change. “Contemporary art is something new in Iraq and not many people understand the message the artists are trying to convey,” Saad said, “Each work has an idea behind it and seeks to raise a problem that is affecting the society without directly touching on politics, religion or gender”.

Beit Tarkeeb Contemporary ArtBeit Tarkeeb regularly emerges from behind its closed doors to stage theatrical performances and gigs on Baghdad’s streets. This not only spreads the art bug to the wider public, but also increases the accessibility of contemporary art by platforming it as a collective and collaborative practice. 

Beit Tarkeeb is also responsible for organising the Baghdad Contemporary Art Festival, the only festival in Iraq featuring young artists in contemporary art, literature, music, cinema and theatre.

Beit Tarkeeb Baghdad Contemporary Art FestivalMoreover, Beit Tarkeeb also offers art therapy through a regular book club. They also have a weekly Open Projector Night, presenting works by local film-makers, and Art Lecture Lab once a month, which is a public lecture series presented by researchers in the arts.

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