About

The Curator

Ruya Foundation for Contemporary Culture in Iraq (RUYA) is delighted to announce the appointment of Philippe Van Cauteren as curator of the National Pavilion of Iraq for the 56th Venice Biennale in May 2015. The appointment follows the great success of Welcome to Iraq, which RUYA commissioned for the 55th edition of the Biennale in 2013.

Philippe Van Cauteren, artistic director of S.M.A.K. Museum for Contemporary Art in Ghent and who co-curated the Belgian Pavilion in 2013, has been appointed by RUYA to curate a pavilion that resonates with the rich scope of Iraqi identity extending beyond the country’s fragile borders. Van Cauteren is currently in conversation with a range of artists from various disciplines and he will finalise his vision for the exhibition after a trip to Iraq, organised and facilitated by RUYA.

Van Cauteren’s commitment to nurturing and empowering Iraqi artists also extends beyond the Biennale. He said, ‘the Pavilion exhibition will constitute the beginning of a continued relationship with RUYA, working to enable a new generation of Iraqi artists to transcend their geography and prosper on a global scale.’

Chairman of RUYA Tamara Chalabi said, ‘Philippe Van Cauteren is suitably positioned to explore Iraq’s complicated terrain, having worked in diverse international contexts, as well as further enlarging S.M.A.K.’s artistic focus. At this very critical juncture in Iraq’s existence, RUYA believes that the presence of a National Pavilion of Iraq at Venice will act as a crucial ambassador for the endurance of Iraqi contemporary culture.’

The Commissioning Body

Ruya Foundation for Contemporary Culture in Iraq (RUYA) is an Iraqi registered non-profit, non-governmental organization founded in 2012 by Iraq art and culture enthusiasts with the aim of aiding and enriching culture in Iraq, and building bridges with the world.

The foundation’s initial goal is to promote culture in Iraq at a time when priorities are focused elsewhere, and to build a platform that will enable Iraqis in the arts, the young in particular, to benefit from, and participate in international events.

RUYA’s intention is to foster culture in Iraq. In addition to supporting local projects, its aim is to create a network of intercultural events that can contribute to the development of civil society in Iraq. It is also committed to nurturing a multicultural dialogue through the arts.

Following its mission to support and promote culture within Iraq, RUYA has a unique network of artists working within and outside of Iraq, from all disciplines in the visual, performing and literary arts.

RUYA collaborates with a number of cultural organisations to create regular residency and exhibition opportunities for Iraqi artists. The foundation has also co-produced films by young and emerging Iraqi filmmakers. Our current and past projects are listed on our website.

The local commissioner in Venice is Nuova Icona, a non-profit cultural association for the patronage of contemporary visual and performing arts.

The Venue

Ca’ Dandolo was built in the 16th century, overlooking the Grand Canal from the San Tomasso District. Once owned by the influential Dandolo family, the building formed one sixth of an estate whose properties included the Palazzo Farsetto-Dandolo and the residence now known as the Hotel Danieli. Today, these large and opulent structures continue to be amongst Venice’s most prominent: the Farsetti-Dandolo serves as the headquarters of the Venetian municipal government, and the Hotel Danieli is widely regarded as the city’s foremost luxury hotel.