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Lu'lu'a, Kirkuk (2006) © Eugenie Dolberg

Lu’lu’a, Kirkuk (2006) © Eugenie Dolberg

Lu'lu'a, Kirkuk (2006) © Eugenie Dolberg Antoinette, Mosul (2006) © Eugenie Dolberg Um Mohammed, Basra (2006) © Eugenie Dolberg

Open Shutters Iraq

Eugenie Dolberg

  • Eugenie Dolberg
  • Thursday 10th May 7-9pm All Welcome
  • 11 May to 15 June 2012

‘The mainstream media has made Iraq into an object of intense scrutiny. We’ve been shown documentaries justifying or condemning the rationale for the invasion; high tech simulations demonstrating the mechanics of the invasion; graphic illustrations of the economic costs of the war; images of devastation wreaked by suicide bombers and other kinds of conflict; people mourning dead friends or digging bodies out from under rubble; a statue falling in Baghdad; hooded men electrocuted or tied up like dogs in Abu Ghraib; photographs of American civilians hanging from a bridge in Fallujah; images of fleeing refugees; Saddam Hussein’s dental examination following his being tracked down to a hole outside Ad-Dawr; his execution on the scaffold and men throwing their shoes at Goerge W. Bush. What, after all this, remains to be seen?’  Bernadette Buckley, review of ‘Open Shutters Iraq’ in Photoworks, May to October 2011

Belfast Exposed is pleased to present Open Shutters Iraq. This exhibition involves a series of photographic essays and texts by women from Baghdad, Basra, Falluja, Kirkuk and Mosul. It presents a view of everyday life experienced through conflict and behind news headlines. The women who have taken part – none of whom were photographers or writers – felt compelled to tell their story, for themselves and for their children. These stories of human experience, of endurance and perseverance, of love and friendship are explored through a range of emotions from intimacy and humour to frustration, fear and grief. And through the work we are granted a rare insight into the private and public lives of women living in Iraq today.

Open Shutters Iraq was initiated and developed by Eugenie Dolberg, a photojournalist frustrated by the lack of access to ordinary Iraqi people, and by the limited perspective on the conflict offered by Government and military sourced news reports. With the support of Irada Zaydan – a university professor who gave up her job to work on the project – Dolberg set up a workshop programme for a group of Iraqi women in the city of Damascus. Participants from a range of social, political and religious backgrounds came together to share their experiences and learn photography, before returning to Iraq to reflect upon the effects of conflict on their lives. The tales of sanctions, siege, grief, love and resistance presented in Open Shutters Iraq are testament to the lives of those who live with conflict, and to the power and potency of giving voice to that experience.

Continuing its interest in supporting participatory and socially engaged photography, Belfast Exposed will facilitate a series of talks, screenings and workshops to accompany the exhibition.  An additional series of talks focused on the experience of war in art is being developed in collaboration with the Golden Thread Gallery and will take place between 12th and 15th June 2012.


Artist Biography

Eugenie Dolberg has worked for 10years as a professional freelance photojournalist and her work has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Face and Oyginok. In 2006, Dolberg founded Open Shutters and since then she has developed exhibitions and commissions with artists from Iraq, Syria and Iran. She lives between London and Tehran.


Open Shutters Iraq at Belfast Exposed is supported by Arts Council Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.



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