Latif Al Ani, the Baghdad-born photographer who has been labelled as ‘the founding father of Iraqi photography’, captured the country in artistic detail during the 1950s to the 1970s.
Al Ani documented a period of colossal change for Iraq which heavily featured the 1958 revolution, the ’14 July Revolution’, also known as the 1958 Iraqi coup d’état. The movement resulted in the overthrow of the Hashemite monarchy which had been established by King Faisal I in 1921.
“There were hardly any photographers in Iraq then,” Al Ani remembers in an extract from his new, self-titled photo book. “My love for photography gave me courage,” he says despite having his project cut short by Saddam Hussein’s oppressive regime in 1979. “It pushed me to overcome all barriers,” he added.
“I wanted to show our heritage against our present, the contrast between past and present, where we had arrived in comparison with the past,” he adds. “This past is being deleted; it has been deleted. I felt there would be no stability.”
“Pandora’s box was opened and ignorant people came to rule, who had no culture or understanding of the power they held. Fear was a major motive to document everything as it was. I did all that I could to document, to safeguard that time.”