Hana Mal Allah has first hand experience of life during and after Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. As one of the last artists to leave Baghdad, she has witnessed some of Iraq's darkest days. But through her art, Hana has sought to bring freedom of expression and life into a war-torn landscape.
"My work focuses on the image of Baghdad as a city founded on an accumulation of artifacts that bears witness to both a rich cultural and historical heritage," says Hana, "as well as systematic destruction and vandalism throughout history."
Fleeing her beloved Iraq for her own safety, Hana traveled to Paris where she continued to produce art, finally arriving in London in March 2007. Under the watchful and motherly gaze of Maysaloun Faraj, owner of a gallery in London, Hana gets the chance to exhibit her art works along with another Iraqi artist, Rashad Selim.
Hana has only recently arrived from Iraq, and she is keen to make sure her works are properly displayed in order to communicate her life, her memories of war and how they shape her art. Rashad is far from ready for the opening night. At work in his studio on the eve of the exhibition, Rashad likens his unpreparedness to the chaos of the situation in Iraq.
Maysaloun is an artist herself, and is used to dealing with the sensitive egos of artists. But she is under pressure to get everything ready on time – a pressure she passes on to Rashad.
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About Al Jazeera - Witness
Rageh Omaar presents Witness, a half-hour daily documentary series which features short, specially commissioned or acquired films gathered from independent filmmakers.
Each documentary reveals the unknown lives of ordinary people, following their lives, telling their stories and portraying the challenges that confront them. Our witnesses are people in a situation or those who have observed them first hand.
The films cover conflict, belief, the past and the future and as well as bringing new stories to light they showcase the talents of a new breed of multi-skilled, frontline journalist. In the studio, Rageh will further explore the issues raised in the films, with expert guests on the subject matter and the filmmakers themselves.