NYU Abu Dhabi’s al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art Announces Book Launch for its Inaugural Arab Art Archive Publication

Rafa Nasiri and May Muzaffar Collection, Arab Art Archive, al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art at New York University Abu Dhabi.

al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art at NYU Abu Dhabi will launch its inaugural Arab art archive publication, Story of Water and Fire, on May 24 at 421, and May 25 at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

Authored by poet and art critic May Muzaffar, this publication is a captivating account of the life of two prominent figures in the Iraqi art scene, Muzaffar and artist Rafa Nasiri. Through vivid descriptions and rarely-seen photographs, this book offers a glimpse into the social and artistic milieu of Baghdad from the 1960s to the 1990s, as well as the couple’s travels during this period and their years of exile in Amman and Manama. This book is the English translation of the original Arabic version and is co-published by al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art and German book publisher, Hatje Cantz.

Over a year ago, al Mawrid started digitizing the Rafa Nasiri and May Muzaffar Collection to make their extensive contributions to the arts and literary fields more accessible. Their collection includes a variety of archival material featuring the working documents of Muzaffar and her correspondences with literary figures such as Nizar Qabbani. The collection also contains a unique set of journals, hand-written in great detail and illustrated by Rafa Nasiri, which includes information on the personal and professional events of his life, as well as details on his art practice. Story of Water and Fire is one of the efforts to engage with the pedagogical and research goals of the Center.


“Through the translation of key documents in al Mawrid’s Arab Art Archives, the Center strives to make its collections accessible and support research based on primary documents written by the region’s artists and art critics."

Director and Principal Investigator of al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art Salwa Mikdadi

al Mawrid is a research center and archive dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of the visual arts of the Arab world. Through a range of activities that include fellowships, research projects, conferences and colloquia, as well as the construction of a unique open-access archive, al Mawrid aims to be a major resource for scholars, independent researchers, and for educational and art institutions.

Book launch listings information:

1- Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 7pm at 421; the event will be held in English
2- Thursday, May 25, 2023 at 6pm at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair; the event will be held in Arabic