Tigris River & Mesopotamian Marshes, Iraq

Ruya Foundation

Photo by Akeel Khreef Marshes Feb 2022.
Photo by Akeel Khreef Parched Reed Marshes 2022.
Photo by Sherko Abbas. Lake Dokkan 2022.
Photo by Sherko Abbas Picnic Lake Dokkan 2022
Photo by Sherko Abbas Raft

About this weather station


Water – or more precisely the lack of it – is an existential issue in many parts of Iraq and its neighbouring countries.  Two weather stations on the Tigris River and in the Iraqi marshes explore the impact of rising temperatures on the delicate ecosystems of the Tigris River and the marshes of Southern Iraq.


Sherko Abbas is creating a mobile weather station raft, Tigris River Sound Lab on which he will install objects and instruments to record sounds made by the weather such as water, wind and rainfall.  Alongside the collecting of sounds, Abbas will also gather stories, songs and poetry from people who inhabit both sides of the river, starting in Dukan Lake near the Iraqi-Kurdish border in the north and ending in the marshes in the south of Iraq in the Persian Gulf in the south.   His focus is on fictional stories and myths about the water that are orally transmitted from one generation to another,  but are not documented.

The ancient cities of the Sumerian Marshes gave birth to the Mesopotamian Civilization where agriculture first developed and writing was invented around 3500 BC.  Over recent decades, the delicate ecosystem of the Marshes has been severely threatened through rising temperatures, neglect and conflict, with many inhabitants forced to resettle due to Saddam Hussein’s regime redirecting the river and drying out the marshes.


Akeel Khreef’s Marshes Weather Station takes the form of a series of films featuring the artist, his own body as a barometer for climate change, in the Marshes in Southern Iraq, where his family originates.  Khreef’s weather reports look at three key elements in the ecosystem; cane reeds, fish and agriculture. The drying out of the Marshes highlights the emotional co-dependency of humans and non-humans in this fragile ecosystem.

Commissioned by the Ruya Foundation for Contemporary Culture in Iraq.


The Ruya Foundation is an Iraqi registered non-profit, non-governmental organization founded in 2012 with the aim of aiding and enriching culture in Iraq, and building cultural bridges with the world.

Ruya’s initial goal is to promote culture in Iraq at a time when priorities are focused elsewhere and to build a platform that will enable Iraqis in the arts, the young in particular, to benefit from, and participate in international events. In addition to supporting local projects, its aim is to create a network of intercultural events that can contribute to the development of civil society in Iraq. It is also committed to nurturing a multicultural dialogue through the arts.

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