Carnet de voyage, Bagdad 2019

Les fresques de la révolte, une nouvelle figuration populaire

  • Caecilia Pieri Associate Researcher, IFPO
Keywords: Baghdad, murals, thawra, martyrology, Shiitization


This contribution is a commented portfolio of images gathered during fieldwork in Baghdad (February 2020). It aims to provide an overview of the murals which have been concentrated on Tahrir Square since the revolution of October 2019. These murals share some iconographic topics in common with the thawra (revolution) in Syria, Tunisia, Egypt and Beirut. Nevertheless, some semantic and iconographic registers are specific to Iraq, and divided into two main categories. The first one recreates “a city within the city” (ville en abyme) through composite unrealistic images of real places known to all; the second relates to the martyrology of Shiism, with portraits of historical imams, but also of “martyrs” killed during the repression in Autumn 2019. Contrary to the well-known official iconography since the 1958 Iraqi revolution, this new figurative expression is that of a young population predominantly Shiite (due to demography in Iraq), and it stems from a cultural and political substrate prone to rebellion—that of Hussein, long repressed by power. The style is often naive, at the antipodes of the concomitant Beiruti thawra street art, although crossing with other globalized graphic codes. It constitutes a vibrant popular culture and also signals a “Shiitization” of public space. Beyond traditional divisions, it finally proves to federate, in reaction to the iconoclasm of Daesh but also to the corruption that strikes the daily life and the future of millions of citizens.

Author Biography

Caecilia Pieri, Associate Researcher, IFPO

Caecilia Pieri is Associate Researcher at the French Institute of the Near-East (Ifpo), where she was formerly Head of the Urban Observatory (2011-2015). She received her PhD at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS, Paris), on the subject of the modernization of Baghdad, where she has been conducting fieldwork since 2003. She was the leading coordinator of a research program about "Heritage at war in the Mediterranean region" (2015-2017) and also an expert within the UNESCO (World Heritage) for the safeguard of modern heritage in the Arab World. She is currently the pedagogical coordinator of AGIR-HIFAZ, a training program for the conservation of the built heritage between Ifpo and Mosul/Salaheddin Erbil Universities (Iraq). She also teaches history of modern architecture as Visiting Professor at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA, Beirut).

How to Cite
Pieri, C. (2022). Carnet de voyage, Bagdad 2019: Les fresques de la révolte, une nouvelle figuration populaire. Manazir Journal, 4, 128–155.