5. Tabarek Al Atrakchi

16 November 2018 / Collaboration, Exhibition

Tabarek Al Atrakchi: What Is A Dream

In front of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum/Museum of Modern Art

Photo by Anees Amer

The installation WHAT IS A DREAM by Tabarek Al Atrakchi showed a series of crayon drawings made by street kids, in an installation setting that included an arabana (a kind of wheelbarrow for transporting goods) loaded with water bottles, chewing gum, and cleaning materials – all items that are typically sold by children on the street. Al Atrakchi sought out the children in the city streets and asked them to draw their dreams and to tell her what those dreams were about. WHAT IS A DREAM depicts the hopes and future visions of the children. The dreams range from having a boat to work on the river and becoming a photographer or a doctor to travelling to an island in the turquoise sea. Al Atrakchi criticises child labour and the living conditions of many street kids in Iraq by looking into their wishes for a future that contrasts their everyday situation. She presented her artwork in front of the Museum of Modern Art in Baghdad, the first exhibition space for modern art in Iraq, built in 1962 and also known as ‘The Gulbenkian Hall’. The place embodies a collision of worlds that is typical for Baghdad: the governmental, state-run art museum is located in the midst of a bazaar that gathers small businesses, day labourers, and the poorest of the city, from thieves to street kids. The children’s drawings on the street stand in an imagined dialogue with the art inside the galleries, while they show how far removed one reality is from the other.