Hanaa Malallah
One of Iraqs leading contemporary female artist. A key member of the 'Eighties Generation' Hanaa Malallah's work emanates from her experience of 35 years of life and work in war-torn Iraq.
Contemporary of Dia Al-Azzawi.
Student of Shaker Hassan Al Said

Hanaa Mal-Allah
Hanaa' Malallah
Hana Mal Allah
Henaa Mal'Allah


Photographic print
50 x 75 cm 


The tradition of codifying letters as numbers has an ancient history, but well is understood in the Arabic speaking world, where it is known as the ‘Abjad System’. In this instance, each Arabic letter has its numerical equivalent and many early charts show a deep understanding of astronomy, logic and mathematics. This system was also used for purposes of divination and magic.

In 2007, the year after I left Iraq, I first signed my name in numbers: (Baghdad City Map). It seemed appropriate to the aesthetics of the artwork, and no longer as secret or elusive as hiding mathematical ideas in the compositions of artwork. In 2013, I had this signature, my personal code, tattooed on my left forearm. I consider it an artwork, and my arm a ‘found object.

This small photographic work speaks articulately about my enthusiasm in ruination and codification. However, this work opens to numerous interpretations, more likely political one.

Regarding to ruination aspect, I utilize a fundamental property of organic material and its temporary existence to deliver a specific concept of ruination. Using system of organic material such as my flesh which contain a process of decay over time, to show a chronology aspect of ruination. Simply, one might say a ravage of time. The system of that process and morphing over time keep engender different aesthetics of decaying and ruination until my hand expiration date.