Rashad Nov 2019

Rashad Salim

Expeditionary Artist and Founder of Ark Reimagined

Rashad Salim is an expeditionary artist and designer with a particular interest in the history and development of culture and technology as reflected in ancient boats, headgear, printmaking techniques (Mesopotamian cylinder seals) and voyaging. He studied at The Institute of Fine Arts, Baghdad and St Martin’s in London.

Born in Khartoum Sudan (1957) to a German Mother and an artist diplomat Father (Nizar Salim d.1982 posts include China, Sweden, Libya and ex Yugoslavia ) from a well known Iraqi family of artists, Rashad considers himself a 'EurArab' and has travelled extensively since birth though not yet across the Atlantic. As an adult and practicing artist he lived and worked gaining insight and inspiration in Iraq, Morocco, Yemen and presently in London, UK.

In 1977-78, as a crew member on Thor Heyerdahl's Tigris expedition, he travelled on a reed boat from Iraq across the Indian Ocean. Since 2015, through the Ark Re-imagined project, he has worked to protect and revive the endangered craft heritage of Iraq, particularly its ancient boatbuilding techniques. He is now preparing to present the Ark Re-imagined as Iraq's National Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021.



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"In 2013, while traveling in traditional boats from Southern Turkey to the Marshes of Southern Iraq, I had an epiphany, a vision of the Ark not as a singular boat, but as a gathering of experience and different types of watercraft in a strong and natural pattern of unity." Rashad Salim
Mesopotamia in Venice, 2019 Digital Photomontage The increasing threats of climate change, environmental degradation and cultural heritage loss make the story of the Great Flood and Noah’s Ark of vital relevance today.

© Rashad Salim, courtesy Nik Wheeler (photography in Iraq); Wolfgang Moroder (photography in Venice.

"In 1977 as a young man of 20, I was privileged to voyage with the great Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl on the ‘Tigris’ Reed Boat. Marsh Arabs built our boat with reed bundles just as referred to in our earliest account of the Great Flood, the Epic of Gilgamesh. This experience opened a window onto history in harmony with nature that I treasure and draw insight from today." Rashad Salim
1977: Tigris Expedition (Reed Boat), Iraq
Salim proposes that instead of a singular untried structure, the Ark would more likely have been a gathering of many known vessels in a pattern of unity. The pattern: six around one, is a key pattern in physics, engineering and Islamic art, and seen when things of the same diameter are gathered.
Ark Re-Imagined connects the origins of culture with contemporary civilization and in so doing champions humanity’s capacity to overcome adversity through collaboration and creativity rather than division and superstition.
"The Ark has traditionally been a Western quest; I am proposing an Arabian/Mesopotamian alternative freed of Noah and BEYOND established projections: a rational Ark acceptable to both Islamic and empirical sensibilities that could have been constructed with the technology and material of its original time and place." Rashad Salim
"My hypothesis as to the form the Ark would have taken, and the materials from which it would have been made, has its origin in my first hand experience with the people, landscapes and cultures of Iraq. I am witness to the last flicker of the ancient watercraft. With this project I challenge reports of its terminal disappearance and aim to set in motion a resuscitation." Rashad Salim
The culture and beauty of Iraq and the Gulf region’s ancient watercraft architecture is threatened with imminent disappearance. Ark Re-Imagined is a project through which this important issue can find a voice.
Travelling between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in ancient Mesopotamia, which incorporates present day Iraq and the Gulf, and Venice, the project proposes, tests and communicates a re-imagined Noah’s Ark based on the unity of many (vessels) rather than a singular untried boat.
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