Guide to the photographs by Iraqi civilians collection, 2004 April-May
Collection comprises 464 original 4x6 inch color snapshots, 23 13x19 inch color inkjet exhibit prints; roll negatives; and text panels for the exhibit, "Photographs by Iraqi Civilians, 2004." The images are a result of a project, "Iraq From Within," coordinated by the North Carolina-based Daylight Community Arts Foundation, which encouraged Iraqi civilians to document through photographs and captions a point of view unavailable to the foreign press. The original color snapshots, taken by men and women chiefly in Baghdad and Fallujah, show families at home and in their neighborhoods, various workplaces, and scenes of wartime destruction. Taken as a whole, the collection conveys the impacts on men, women, and children of the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
- Collection Number
- Photographs by Iraqi civilians collection
- 2004 April-May
- 4.0 Linear Feet, 3 boxes; 1 oversize folder
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Materials are in English.
Collection comprises 464 original 4x6 inch color snapshots taken by Iraqi civilians; 23 13x19 inch color inkjet exhibit prints, selected from the color snapshots; roll negatives; and text panels for the exhibit, "Photographs by Iraqi Civilians, 2004." The collection materials originated from a project, "Iraq From Within," coordinated by the North Carolina-based Daylight Community Arts Foundation, encouraging Iraqi civilians to document through photographs and narrative captions a point of view unavailable to the foreign press.
Using handheld disposable cameras, Iraqi men and women from in and around Baghdad and Fallujah photographed living conditions during the American occupation following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The images show families at home and in neighborhoods, as well as scenes such as patients and nurses at a hospital, customers and barbers at a barbershop, students and a teacher at a school, a dentist and patient in a dentist's office, men digging graves, a banner hung in the street, and images of wartime destruction. From the initial group of over 460 images, 23 prints by nine photographers were chosen to form the traveling exhibit "Photographs by Iraqi Civilians, 2004."
Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
Arranged in the following series: Exhibit Prints; Original Photographs; and Exhibit Materials.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Original negatives may only be used with permission by the Curator of the Archives of Documentary Arts.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Photographs by Iraqi civilians collection, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Series houses 23 13x19 inch exhibit-quality color inkjet prints, selected from the many images taken by Iraqi men and women. The prints are arranged in number order assigned by exhibit curator. For the purpose of preservation, prints and exhibit text panels were removed from their original exhibit mats. Exhibit captions and text panels are housed in another box in the collection.
Series comprises 213 4x6 inch color snapshot prints, with the first folder containing photographs selected for exhibition; the rest are arranged by photographer, and including the identification numbers printed on the back of each print at time of processing. The number of prints in the original envelopes, one per photographer, ranges from 14 to 24, with the exception of Jassim Mohammad, whose three folders include a total of 52 prints. No envelope was found for the photographer Rana Al-Auby.
The names of the original "Iraq From Within" project photographers are: Rana Al-Auby, Ammar Abu, Maiid Asraa, Ahmed Dhiya, Ali Feras, Limea Hamza, Sami Haydar, Alaa and Salam Kamel, Jassim Mohammad, Rasheed Saad, Muhamed Salam, Hamed Hasan Salman, Abdulah Samir, Mohamed Shukvia, Mohamed Thamev, Hussam Um, Omar Usama, and Mustafa Ahmed Yaseen. Fred Ritchin and Ambreen Qureshi of PixelPress curated the exhibit, which was displayed August 30 to October 10, 2004 at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts Department of Photography and Imaging in the Gulf and Western Gallery. A selection of images from the project "Iraq From Within" were originally published in the June 2004, Issue 2 of Daylight Magazine.
Exhibit Abstract (by Pixel Press staff)
"The photographs on these walls were taken from only ten rolls of film, all made this past spring  with disposable cameras. The photographers themselves are civilians coming from a variety of walks of life, none having to do with taking pictures: Limea Hamza, for example, is a student in her third year at the English Department of the University of Baghdad, Mustafa Ahmed Yaseen is a cigarette factory worker, Ahmed Dhiya is a dentist, and Hamed Hasan Salam lives in the garbage dump where he photographed his family members."
"There is also Alaa Kamel, who describes herself as 'an Iraqi women of 29 years old, working as an interpreter, living in Baghdad, very much upset about what is happening in Palestine and Iraq, never feel afraid of being a translator...You sent me greetings from America but your country wouldn't like to have me like a visitor there.'"
"Jassim Mohammad is '31 years old with parents and three brothers and sisters. I am looking for a wife. I am an engineer in medical instruments but now drive journalists between Jordan and Iraq. I wish the Americans [at home] could see what they do here in Iraq... The situation in Iraq now is very very bad because we are now like Palestine and Israel...'"
"He, like many others, is also skeptical of recent changes. 'I do not believe this new government are really Iraqis. Mr. Bush is a liar and his troops make trouble and conquer.' But he also says, 'I am sure the American people they are a good people.'"
"The captions are excerpted from texts written by the photographers themselves, slightly edited for the purpose of this exhibition."
"In retrospect, one wonders how photographs by Vietnamese civilians at the time of the war in their country might have enlightened outsiders, or by Jews in concentration camps, or by any group not allowed to represent themselves on the international stage. It has been a year in Iraq during which many of the most important photographs have been made by non-professionals, such as those by US soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison. These Iraqi civilian photographers, most with no more than one roll of film, also have something to add."
- Benjamin Lowy photographs, 2003-2008 (Rubenstein Library, Duke University)
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Documentary Photography -- Iraq
- Family life -- Iraq
- Iraq War, 2003-2011 -- Pictorial works
- Iraq War, 2003-2011 -- Personal narratives
The Photographs By Iraqi Civilians collection was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2015 and 2016.
Processed and encoded by Beth Morris Weiss and Paula Jeannet, March 2016. Addition processed by Paula Jeannet and Leslie Hayes, October 2016.
Accession(s) represented in this collection guide: 2015-0010, 2016-0259.