RUYA talk by Jonathan Watkins and Tamara Chalabi presenting the Venice Biennale, December 2012, Baghdad, Courtesy Ruya Foundation

With Jonathan Watkins, Director of Ikon in Birmingham and curator of the pavilion, we travelled as a team to Iraq for the first time in December 2012, to start developing ideas for the pavilion. Arriving in Baghdad, we took the approach of an ‘open call’, inviting artists to meet and show us their work. We gave a talk there to nearly 100 local artists about the Venice Biennale within the context of the international art world. It’s rare for artists in the country to gather in this way and talk about their practice.