Raisan Hameed

Mosul, Iraq

Raisan Hameed (*1991 in Mosul-Iraq) is multimedia artist based in Leipzig, Germany. He first studied fine arts at the Mosul University College of Fine Arts, and in 2016 he continued his studies at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig, where he graduated in 2022.

He is currently a Meisterschüler in the class of Prof. Tina Bara. In his works Raisan Hameed deals with different dimensions of truth. He is often the subject of his images himself and processes personal experiences metaphorically by acting and experimenting with different media.

Hameed‘s works have been exhibited in Rotterdam, Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Rome, Palermo, L.A., UAE Sharjah, Ulm, Paris, as well as at the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn. His work has been awarded for Carte Blanche/Paris Photo 2023, He has been nominated for the Lenscratch Student Prize in L.A. in 2022.

Where are you from, where are you based now, and can you tell us about both?

I was born in Mosul, Iraq. I studied Fine Arts at Mosul University College of Fine Arts and worked as a photographer for the local press. Since 2016, I’ve been living in Leipzig, Germany. I continued my studies at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig and graduated in 2022. Now, I’m pursuing my master’s degree in Visual Arts with Prof. Tina Bara at the HGB-Leipzig.

These contrasting environments have deeply influenced my work, driving me to explore my identity and culture, and how I can share my experiences with my community. The history of Mosul, enduring many wars, and the experiences of my generation under repression, fuel my artistic exploration. My work often delves into themes of memory, destruction, and resilience, as seen in my project “Zer-Störung.”

Your work often revolves around the concept of truth and personal experiences, presented through various media. How do you navigate the intersection between personal narratives and universal themes in your photography?

My major inspiration comes from the history of my city and my personal experiences. Through intensive research on image prohibition in Iraq and my personal photo archives, I create works that resonate on both personal and universal levels. Projects like “Zer-Störung” and “C-Prints Kodak” explore how personal and collective histories intertwine, posing questions and creating space for introspection and dialogue about broader global issues.

What are you working on right now, and how does it differ from your past work?

My current project is called “Embers of Narratives.” It’s a comprehensive research project based on images from Google Street View, focusing on cities affected by war and places from my childhood. It explores the interplay between digital representations and personal memory. Unlike my previous work, which often used archival family photos, this project uses contemporary digital tools to examine historical and personal landscapes. I’m also experimenting with thermographic art to explore the cycle of destruction and transience.

With exhibitions in cities like Berlin, Rome, and L.A., your work has gained international acclaim. How do you adapt your artistic expression to resonate with diverse audiences while maintaining the authenticity of your message?

It’s a careful balance. I focus on universal themes like memory, loss, resilience, and cultural identity that transcend geographical and cultural boundaries. While my work is deeply rooted in my personal and cultural experiences, I aim to present these narratives in a way that invites broader interpretation and connection. I use abstraction and ambiguity to evoke emotions and provoke thought, allowing viewers from different backgrounds to find their own meaning and relevance in the work. Engaging in conversations with diverse audiences during international exhibitions also helps me understand how my work is perceived across different cultural contexts, ensuring it remains authentic yet globally resonant.

You’ve been recognized for your contributions to the art world, receiving awards like Carte Blanche/Paris Photo 2023 and nominations for prestigious prizes like the Lenscratch Student Prize in L.A. How do these accolades influence your artistic journey and your approach to future projects?

These nominations and awards are a tremendous encouragement for me. They inspire me to continue working on future projects and realizing my ideas. The recognition also brings valuable conversations and networks that further influence my artistic journey. It motivates me to delve deeper into my research and push the boundaries of my artistic practice.

Considering your background and cultural heritage, how do you envision photography’s role in bridging cultural divides and fostering understanding in today’s increasingly globalized world?

By sharing visual stories from different cultural contexts, we can highlight common human experiences and promote empathy. My work aims to connect people across cultural boundaries and encourage a deeper understanding of diverse narratives, reflecting the shared experiences of war, displacement, and resilience.

In light of current global tensions and conflicts, how do you believe photography can serve as a medium for raising awareness and promoting dialogue about pressing social and political issues?

Photography can capture moments of conflict and resilience, making abstract issues tangible and relatable. Through visual storytelling, we can engage audiences and spark conversations that lead to greater awareness and action. My project “Zer-Störung” is an example of this, as it documents the aftermath of war in Mosul and opens up discussions about the impact of conflict on communities.

Your experiences as an Iraqi artist navigating the postwar landscape likely inform your perspective on the power of visual storytelling. How do you think photography can contribute to healing and reconciliation in communities affected by conflict and displacement?

Photography can give a voice to those affected by conflict and displacement, fostering empathy and understanding. By sharing these stories, we can help communities process their experiences and work towards rebuilding. My work aims to capture the enduring spirit of my city and its people, providing a platform for their stories to be heard.

As a multimedia artist, you engage with various forms of expression beyond traditional photography. How do you approach the integration of different media in your artistic practice, and what unique opportunities does this interdisciplinary approach offer in conveying complex narratives?

Incorporating different media into my art practice allows me to convey complex narratives more effectively. Each medium offers unique possibilities for expression and communication. By combining photography, video, and other forms of art, I can create multi-layered works that engage viewers on multiple levels, deepening their understanding of the themes I explore. This interdisciplinary approach allows me to explore the materiality of images and experiment with different ways of telling stories. In my most recent work, “Embers of Narratives,” I try to view stories from a broader perspective, zooming in on the map, then the city, then the houses, people, feelings, and ideas.

How do you perceive the future trajectory of photography as an art form, particularly in the context of advancing technologies and shifting socio-political landscapes?

The future of photography is exciting, offering new possibilities for artistic expression. These developments can enhance the way we capture and interpret images, making photography an even more powerful tool for storytelling. As socio-political landscapes continue to shift, photography will remain a crucial medium for documenting and responding to these changes. The integration of digital tools, like in my current project using Google Street View, shows how technology can expand the boundaries of traditional photography.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2024?

I’m currently writing from Lisbon, where I am with friends, enjoying the beauty and inspiration of the city. In July, I’ll visit the Arles Photo Festival, and I have several exhibitions planned in Germany. The year ahead promises to be full of creative endeavors and new opportunities to share my work with diverse audiences.

Where can we find you online?

You can find me on Instagram and on my website of course. You can take a look at my work and the processes here @raisan_hameed and here www.raisanhameed.com.