Ali Arkady & Muhammed Moneka Project

This string of images recounts the essence of Baghdad in a sensational way. The way to achieve that is by capturing young, Iraqi actors and playwrights. They are greatly intertwined with the Iraqi life and especially the lifestyle of Baghdad, the capital. Through them, many issues that Iraq has gone can be conveyed by simple, yet expressive theatrics that illustrate a simple class of people
An Iraqi photographer toiled to gather 50 amateur and professional actors and theater enthusiasts. He constructed a professional studio with limited capabilities and using an I phone a medium format camera to take portraits and shoot video, the photographer managed to capture pure emotions that were compressed in the confines of the small makeshift studio. Developing the pictures happened on-site and their reactions were documented.
 The photographer resorted to this technique in order to evoke the feelings of his subjects and strip them of all burdens of everyday life in Iraq and force them into a simple monochrome mindset of WHO they are? The aim of shooting the portraits was to see, in their faces, what they want, aspire, believe or hope to achieve. He wanted to document a portion of youth culture that was shunned by society and the religiously oriented government strive to extinguish these creative and free energies that is deemed an outside affliction out of the norm of religion and society.
 The project was titled “Happy Baghdad” because of the overflowing optimism of these youth. They told stories of a joyous Baghdad that make the listener think that it is not as harsh as everyone describes.
 Among the nearly 35 million Iraqis, this small segment are somewhat of an exception. Some are refugees who fled violence from areas in war-torn Iraq and are toiling night and day to develop their talents to have a chance at altering the reality that people live in. they wish to promote new trends for young people through their dedication and art to influence their targeted audience.
The theater forum is gathering point that is located in Baghdad’s central district of al-Sinak, is dearly beloved by the artists and is a frequent gathering point for them. The studio for the project was constructed there. Life in the forum if simpler and is void of the rivalry that is taking place in Baghdad day overnight.
History documents that ancient Iraqis knew “some form of theater” as revealed by various studies. There is evidence that theater existed far back in Babylon and Warkaa and it continued to exist in the Iraqi history periods to follow. The stage not only hosted plays, but celebrations, rituals, some pattern of games, etc.. It also served the main function by which people passed on literary tales, epics lamentations and religious rituals for the myriad of religions that coexisted in Iraq. It is safe to assume that the theater held a significant position in the life on ancient Iraqis.
After the project was concluded and before it was published. Many of the young people in the projects have migrated away from Iraq. The main idea of the project was to prove that optimism and challenge that this small group had and their perseverance against all sorts of financial, political and religious difficulties that accompanies their everyday lives is enough and that they can endure these difficulties. Later, I realized that circumstances are too powerful for any project to change especially in country that is considered a bastion of strife. This project talks about a smile or a glimmer of hope that is tangible and can carry on for a brighter future.
description by Saif Sameer

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