Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pretty miniature houses in Iraq

There's a man in Iraq whose mom used to read books to him when he was little. Many of them depicted scenes from Europe and the US.

So he started recreating those scenes by making little miniature houses and filling them with exquisite details! They're called dioramas. He's made scenes of London, Paris, and New York.

This looks real, doesn't it? But it's smaller than a dollhouse.

Here you can see a bookstore in Paris! Boulevard Books!

The man doing all this was interviewed on the BBC Arabic. Dioramas are not a widespread art-form in the Middle East, so he didn't really have a ready stock of material he could buy. So he makes all the little pieces himself:

Here is the man himself, talking to the BBC Arabic through Skype:

He is currently living in Turkey as a refugee because of the very unsafe situation in Iraq. At one point, he did have an exhibition of his works in Baghdad, but that was two years ago before he fled with his kids and wife. "Obviously, I don't have the exhibition now, but I pray, and we all pray, that the conditions there will get better and if so, then surely I would love to go back and do more exhibitions."

Here you can see his finger on a little toy horse, in a little bedroom, in a tiny little house!

The BBC Arabic lady who did the interview said: I'm assuming you do scenes from Europe and the the US because most of the books you read when younger were set in these areas. But would you ever consider doing a scene from the Arab world?

And he said:

No, I do not pick Arab places because I do this so I can remove myself from my reality. I cannot at the moment think about doing a scene of Iraq. One day, inshallah, I'll make one of these of Iraq, and it will fill me with joy. If i do it now, it will surely fill me with pain.

It takes him 2-3 months to make a diorama. He first studies the place he is recreating for a month.

"If I want to build Paris, I have to look at the windows, the doors, the floors. But it's fine that it takes that long, because it fills me with joy."

The BBC Arabic interviewer asked if part of this had to do with reconnecting with his childhood.

He said: yes, it reminds me of my youth, even though my childhood was so hard, but I don't know, when i think back to childhood, I still get happy.

The interviewer next asked: this is a very small artform in the Middle East. Why do you think the Arab world doesn't care about dioramas? Do they just not care about details?

"Well," said the Iraqi artist, "I think Arabs do care about details, but you know even in the world at large these dioramas are not very widespread or popular."

The interviewer asked: have you ever gotten to visit these places, or is it all based on books you've read and movies you've watched?

He said: No, I have not, but Inshallah, one day I'll get to visit these places, if God wills it.

Since he's living in Turkey as a refugee, it's impossible for him to travel at the moment, but he said, Inshallah something will work out.

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