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Der Greif X FUTURES: Interview with talent Raisan Hameed


One of our editors interviewed Raisan Hameed, one of the talents Der Greif nominated to join FUTURES in 2023. They spoke about one of his latest projects “C-Prints Kodak”, which was exhibited at HGB Gallery in Leipzig and the relevance of archival photography in today’s artists' practices. Hameed (b. 1991) is an Iraq-born visual artist currently living in Leipzig. He received a Diploma in Fine Arts in 2022, and is currently pursuing an MA at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig. In his works, Hameed deals with different dimensions of truth. While he concentrates on making the inside visible, he simultaneously identifies with the outcome. He is often the subject of his images, processing his experiences metaphorically through acting and experimentation. Hameed's works have been exhibited in Rotterdam, Berlin, Dresden, Bonn, Leipzig, Rome, Palermo and Sharjah.

Der Greif: Hi Raisan, nice to meet you! A few months have passed since you were nominated to join FUTURES. How did you feel about that? And how has it had an effect on your current practice?

I am honored to be a part of FUTURES this year. The experience has been immensely rewarding and transformative. My involvement with FUTURES has introduced me to a variety of talented and dedicated people in the photography world. Whether through our online interactions or through the intense experience of the 2023 annual FUTURES event in Budapest, where we had three days of stimulating discussions, portfolio reviews, and even some dancing moments, I have been fortunate to connect with so many fascinating people.

Attending FUTURES was a source of motivation. It is not only a networking opportunity, but also a platform to share experiences, ideas, and insights with like-minded people. These interactions have influenced my current artistic practice. I believe that participating in FUTURES has not only enhanced my work, but also enriched my view of photography and its role in our world today.

Der Greif: “C-Prints Kodak” is a series constituting a wider work of your, “Zer-Störung”. Where did it start from? How did you introduce archival images into our practice?

The origins of my series go back to photos of my family. In the 90s, these pictures were hung on the walls of our house, enclosed in glass frames. However, there was an incident and my mother recalls that they were knocked off the walls and damaged. Nevertheless, my family kept these pictures. After the war in Mosul in 2017 and its subsequent liberation, my family was able to return home and kept my photo archives. They gave these archives to me through WeTransfer, including the older family photos were included. During this time, I wrote my thesis examining the concept of image prohibition with relationship of photography in Iraq. This intensive research led to profound insights that are connected to my personal story. Through this process, my project "Zer-Störung" took shape. "Zer-Disturbance" tells the stories of different eras in Mosul. By focusing on the materiality of the images in "C-Prints Kodak", the observations and their political contexts are transformed and become a metaphorical documentation of the past, present and future. This process serves as a gateway for exploration, negotiation, reflection and exchange.

Der Greif: The thorn images that compose the series, reminds of thorn posters that make up the aesthetics of many cities. On billboards, the original function of those posters shifts to a second meaning, an abstract and more creative one, which opens up the viewers minds, also inspiring artists. How do you treat your images to get to that point of witheredness?

In my process, I consciously avoid a straightforward or obvious narrative. In my “C-Prints Kodak” series, it may not be immediately obvious that the images are from the 90s or associated with family histories and urban destruction. I intentionally introduce an element of ambiguity and intrigue. My work may evoke a sense of unease or curiosity, and I don't want to offer the viewer definitive answers, but to pose questions and create a space for introspection, contemplation, and possibly dialogue.

Der Greif: How do you see photography nowadays in relation to images surplus?

Photography today is inextricably linked to the overabundance of images. We live in an age where everyone has access to a camera in their pocket and we are constantly bombarded with a stream of visual information. In this context, I believe photography has the power to break through the noise and draw attention to important stories and experiences. My work aims to take a different perspective and make the viewer stop and think about the images they see. By using archival images and recontextualizing them in my projects, I hope to contribute to a deeper understanding of the images we are surrounded by.

Der Greif: Your personal background and culture comes in your work talking about shared experiences.

In any case, my personal background and cultural experiences play an important role in shaping my work. I draw inspiration from my own history, the history of my family, and the broader cultural context of Iraq. It is important to me to share common experiences and stories that resonate with people from similar backgrounds and beyond. In this way, I hope to bridge the gap between different cultures and allow a broader audience to connect with the narratives depicted in my photographs.

Der Greif: Where do you wish your work to circulate?

I want my work to reach a wide audience and be distributed worldwide. I want it to be seen by people from all walks of life, regardless of their cultural or geographical background. My goal is to create a dialogue and foster a deeper understanding of the issues I explore in my photography. Whether through exhibitions, publications, or online platforms, I hope that my work resonates with viewers and encourages conversations about the themes and stories it depicts.