When the muçala of the Temple of Ashur… had collapsed and was in ruins, I strengthened that place, I reached its base, I rebuilt it with granite and earth from Ubase, I restored it to its place and I set up my tablet. In future days, let a future prince, when that place shall have grown old and fallen into decay, repair its ruins; my tablet, the record of my name, let him restore to its place, that Ashur may hearken to his prayers.

— From an inscription of Adad-Nidari, King of Assyria (1307 B.C. – 1275 B.C.)

This exhibition is a culmination of recent research pursuits examining the cultural and architectural heritage of Iraq, with particular focus on its ancient Mesopotamian past. The work engages the fragile and multi-layered histories embedded within the shared geography of the land, uncovering and drawing inspiration from its architecture, archaeology and mythology. The project emerges from a study of the formal and material attributes of archaeological artifacts found across museum collections and archives, as well as the tales and myths they aspired to capture and convey. Shape, color and texture, as encountered in architecture, sculpture and script, comprise the primary focus of exploration.

Earthly Wonders, Celestial Beings challenges notions of heritage as being ‘fixed’ and conceives of Iraq as a spatial, rather than territorial construct, setting up a conversation across the past and present in the language of reverberating forms. It is envisioned as an installation of sculptures that transcend geographic and temporal boundaries to compose a field of discoveries – each object embodying a nascent history, while collectively in dialogue. To encounter the work is to feel displaced and immersed within an alternative, distorted time and space.

Artist Biography

Rand Abdul Jabbar (b. Baghdad, 1990) engages in a multi-disciplinary approach to creative output, oscillating across the threshold between design, architecture, and the visual arts. Current research pursuits examine ancient Mesopotamian culture, drawing inspiration from Assyrian and Babylonian architecture, archaeology and mythology. Simultaneously, through an engagement with constructed and inherited archives and narratives of modern-day Iraq, Abdul Jabbar examines the tension between the tangible and the ephemeral within her own personal family history, contesting with and staking claim to a world beyond her attainable reach.

Throughout her process, she often borrows from and reconstruct the ephemera of place, history, and memory, employing design, sculpture and installation as primary mediums of operation.

Abdul Jabbar received a Master of Architecture from Columbia University in 2014. Jabbar was awarded the Richard Mille Art Prize in 2023, for her Earthly Wonders, Celestial Beings series. More about the award here.