- Published on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 00:00
Lanky models in high heels saunter down the catwalk, one wearing a huge pink rose headpiece while another's face is draped in a taupe silk headscarf adorned with dangling gold accessories.
But this is not a typical fashion show. There's no-see-through sheaths, naked midriffs or long exposed legs that scream sexy. Instead, everyone on the runway at the Islamic Fashion Fair show is covered from head to toe in loose-flowing fabrics with a variety of textures and colors.
- Published on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 00:00
Two and half years after young Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi triggered the beginning of Arab Spring when he immolated himself in front of his local municipal building, Tunisians are still struggling to re-define and re-build their nation. “The After Revolution,” sponsored by the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) as part of the World Nomads Tunisia Festival, is a celebratory — yet cautionary — look at the tiny North African country in the wake of the “Jasmine Revolution,” which toppled the 25-year long autocratic presidency of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. The three-venue exhibition includes graffiti at 5Pointz, photography at White Box, and a provocative exhibition of multimedia works at FIAF that engage with the growing presence of extreme Islamists in Tunisia.
READ MORE AT Blouin Art Info
*Photo Credit: FIAF website
- Published on Tuesday, 07 May 2013 00:00
Politics is never far from the agenda in Pakistan, even on the catwalk.
The 33 Pakistani designers at this weekend’s Pakistan Fashion Design Council fashion week were showcasing their designs but some were also attempting to make a statement about the need for change in the upcoming elections.
The PFDC fashion week, which opened Friday and runs until Monday, represents many of the nuances of life in Pakistan – at least for the country’s urban elite.
The designs, the audience and the designers present had a strong sense of their Pakistani roots and a pride in their heritage. A nod to the West where many were educated and have worked is also strongly apparent. It is the blend of the two that percolates the look, the atmosphere and the conversation.
READ MORE AT The Wall Street Journal
*Photo Credit: Pakistan Fashion Design Council on Facebook
- Published on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 00:00
In Al-Kasaba Theater in Ramallah, a group of actors were getting ready to go on stage. In the yellow light of lightbulbs framing the mirrors, actresses Amira Habash, Maisa Abd Elhadi and Shaden Kanboura applied makeup, painting their lips bright red and straightening their hair as they prepared to play American high-society girls in the romantic comedy "Holiday." They laugh as they hear their male counterparts singing and joking in the hall.
- Published on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 00:00
Jack Persekian, the director of the new Palestinian Museum scheduled to open in Birzeit late next year, strikes a note of caution when discussing the political significance of the planned institution. “The Palestinian Museum is a political symbol only in so far that it celebrates the accomplishments of the Palestinian people in arts and culture, and that it affirms the presence of Palestinians as a people who have agency, who are productive, who shape their own histories,” he tells The Art Newspaper.
READ MORE AT The Art Newspaper
*Photo Credit: Heneghan Peng Architects, photo courtesy of The Palestinian Museum via Facebook
- Published on Monday, 06 May 2013 00:00
After singing about the stereotypical Waderai Ka Beta and then throwing the creepy Taroo Maroo in the limelight, comedian-turned-singer Ali Gul Pir is now back with a third single, VIP. This time, as the name suggests, the track is about “very important people” or “big shots” who think they are above the all-so-ordinary awaam.
“It’s a very angry song — I feel the character [that has been portrayed in the song] had to capture the true essence of a VIP,” says Pir. “The song also shows the hopelessness of us ordinary people.”
The artist, who has been touring for the greater part of the year, explains how the idea of the song came about. Pir noticed the division of society amongst two types of people — the masses and the very important individuals. During his visit to the Wagha border, he saw that ordinary people had to stand far away from the change-of-guards ceremony, while the so-called big players, were seated in the front.
READ MORE AT The Express Tribune
*Photo Credit: Ali Gul Pir via Facebook
- Published on Tuesday, 04 June 2013 00:00
It’s 7 a.m. in Jenin and the last of the oversized wooden crates have just been cleared out of the open-air vegetable market. A group of volunteers in bright orange vests set cones where chalk marks have been scratched on the asphalt. The Palestinian Motor Sports and Motorcycle Federation’s banner flutters alongside those of local corporate sponsors. Food vendors begin their rounds as a crowd gathers around the track.
Despite restrictions on mobility and movement, organizers erect makeshift racetracks in major cities across the occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank. Beyond the vegetable stalls of Jenin, cars can be seen racing on Arafat’s former helicopter pad in Bethlehem, on a tarmac in the 10,000 year old city of Jericho, in a main street nestled in the valley of Nablus, in the lot outside a transit point and prison at the edges of Ramallah.
READ MORE AT GOOD.com
*Photo Credit: Tanya Habjouqa, Speed Sisters via Facebook
- Published on Monday, 20 May 2013 00:00
The last decade in Lebanon has seen a diverse alternative music scene growing and juxtaposing itself to the "ya habibi" pop scene, plastic surgery obsession and glam life of Beirut. That contrast is evident for the new Lebanese hip-hop and rock scenes, but the alternative pop scene also takes a stand. Mike Massy, Zeid Hamdan, Semitic Genetic and Yasmine Hamdan are just a few names delivering new sounds and purposes to Lebanese pop, one of the most successful music industries in the region.
When Mike Massy won The Innovation in Music Award, Murex D'or, in June 2012, he accepted the honor bare foot, which was highlighted by a close-up on MTV Lebanon.
READ MORE AT Al-Monitor
*Photo Credit: Tanya Traboulsi, photo courtesy of Zeid Hamdan via Facebook
- Published on Sunday, 05 May 2013 00:00
The telltale signs in post-revolutionary Egypt are not just the riots and rapes, the mega-traffic snarls and sectarian battles. There is also the highway ramp in Ard El Lewa.
After the revolution two years ago, working-class residents of that vast informal neighborhood, tired of having no direct access to the 45-mile-long Ring Road, took matters into their own hands. In the absence of functioning government, they built ramps from dirt, sand and trash. Then they invited the police to open a kiosk at the interchange.
Even for Cairo, do-it-yourself infrastructure on this scale is unusual.
READ MORE AT The New York Times Art & Design
*Photo Credit: Stephan Geyer
- Published on Monday, 03 June 2013 00:00
“Cautious optimism” — that is how Israeli musician and diplomat Yinon Muallem defines the climate of tension that currently reigns between Israel and Turkey, three years after the bloody clash on the high seas between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Mavi Marmara Turkish ship carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists to Gaza.
The business and tourism sectors in the two countries are waiting for a signal from the nervous pair of leaders who have waged an arm-wrestling match ever since that bitter morning in which nine Turkish activists were killed. Diplomatic ties between Turkey and Israel were downgraded, and the former friendship was replaced by the language of threats and defamation. Israeli tourists, who once thronged Turkish cities in the hundreds of thousands, frequented other countries.
READ MORE AT Al-Monitor
*Photo Credit: Yinon Muallem & Rast Ensemble via Facebook
- Published on Friday, 17 May 2013 00:00
In Star Wars (or Episode IV if you want to be like that), Luke Skywalker spends the first 15 minutes whining about his misfortune for having been born on Tatooine...Lucas and his crew left the Lars Homestead set to rot after filming wrapped more than 35 years ago. In that time, the domed shell of the homestead sat unprotected from the desert winds, its [Tunisian] location known to only a few locals. That is, until recently, when Luke’s erstwhile home was rediscovered by New York-based photographer Rä di Martino.
READ MORE AT Fast Company
*Photo Credit: grinwithoutacat
- Published on Saturday, 04 May 2013 00:00
Despite a backdrop of sporadic clashes, presidential power grabs, and crackdowns on freedom of expression, Egypt’s arts and culture sector has flourished since January 2011. While many artists feel unable to respond effectively to political events in their personal work, and traditional institutions have been faced with varying challenges, the past two years have given rise to a number of vibrant new spaces and initiatives. It is the way artists organize themselves and seek audiences, more so than their artwork itself, that represents new ways the art world is engaging with revolutionary politics and conversations.
While some artists have intentionally divided their practice between political and non-political projects, others have structured their current projects to accommodate the rapid pace of political developments. 'The Living Newspaper' at Artellewa is one such example...
READ MORE AT Atlantic Council
*Photo Credit: Townhouse Gallery on Twitter
- Published on Sunday, 02 June 2013 00:00
Maryam Elika Ansari has read two books about life in Tehran after the revolution. While she sees one as strengthening orientalist stereotypes, the other humanizes existence in the Islamic Republic.
In recent years, there has been a surge in Iranian women’s diaspora writing about life in post-revolutionary Iran. I will draw your attention to two such accounts, which portray two very different activities with distinct results, both taking place in Tehran. One entails a private book club with predominantly female students who get together to discuss works of Western literature. They do so clandestinely because the books do not appear to be endorsed by the Islamic Republic. The second account illustrates therapy sessions, where different types of people go to the author in question for psychoanalytical help.
READ MORE AT YourMiddleEast.com
*Photo Credit: Siavash Sam Anvari
- Published on Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
Madinat El Salam [Salam City], a remote city an hour outside Cairo was built by the Egyptian army after an earthquake left over 50,000 homeless in 1992. Twenty years later, its wide modernist streets have become fertile ground for an emerging music scene that is now making its way across the country.
Mahraganat, which means festivals, is difficult to classify under one genre. It refers to the carnivalesque atmosphere of shaabi (local) music mixed with electronic music and the spirit of early hip-hop — but the artists who created it do not accept this description. Mahraganat, they say, is something new and unique.
READ MORE AT Al-Monitor
*Photo Credit: Amr 7a7a & Figo via Facebook
- Published on Friday, 03 May 2013 00:00
A couple was trying to have sex, but the act turned suddenly into guilt and inability as a drone in the background drowns out all other sounds and words.
The wife approached her husband. He wanted to kiss her when a new round of bombardments started, interrupting them once again. Their daughter started to cry; the mother went to lull her back to sleep and returned to her husband. The sound of the drone still drowned out everything. The woman touched her husband’s foot with hers and then: Boom! Another explosion. The little girl started to cry again. The mother went to her daughter. The father blew up the condom, which turned into a balloon. Balloons filled the house; 22 days have passed since the beginning of the Israeli war on Gaza. The husband went out on the balcony to see condom balloons floating out of every house in Gaza that night.
This is the story of Condom Lead, a film parody...
READ MORE AT Al-Monitor
*Photo Credit: "Condom Lead" Facebook Page
- Published on Saturday, 01 June 2013 00:00
A television program that stars a puppet called "Red Hat" is creating a stir among Iranian viewers this election season, touching on sanctions, inflation, lack of free speech and other topics of great sensitivity in the Islamic Republic.
The show debuted 23 years ago, during the early months of Hashemi Rafsanjani’s second term as president, and quickly became a favorite for Iranian viewers. The puppet, named for his red headgear, represents an orphaned village boy who comes to Tehran in search of a friend and gets into all kinds of mischief. The friend, the host of a kids’ television show, is known simply as Mr. Host. Red Hat, who lived with his grandmother in the village, used to watch the show at a TV repair shop. Mr. Host became Red Hat’s idol and he decided to come to Tehran to meet him.
READ MORE AT Al-Monitor
*Photo Credit: Kola Ghermezi via Facebook
- Published on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 00:00
Zahra Aljabri has never had much luck at the malls. Whenever she went shopping, the Minneapolis woman would see plenty of clothing with short hemlines, clingy fabrics and revealing necklines. But as a Muslim who dresses conservatively, little of what she saw fit her sense of propriety — or her sense of style.
When she took her search online, she didn’t fare much better.
“The majority of retailers simply neglect women like me by producing overly revealing designs,” Aljabri said.
READ MORE AT StarTribune Style
- Published on Thursday, 02 May 2013 00:00
Amid a burst of colorful costumes and ornate set design, the principal dancer in the ballet “Scheherazade,” in midriff-baring top and loosely flowing harem pants, danced seductively at center stage with a freed slave, leading her ladies-in-waiting in a group choreography of hedonism and desire.
The world-renowned Mariinsky Ballet was performing the risqué piece, choreographed by Michel Fokine to music by Rimsky-Korsakov, not at its home theater in St. Petersburg or in one of its regular touring venues in Vienna, Washington or Tokyo, but in conservative, strait-laced Abu Dhabi.
READ MORE AT The New York Times
*Photo Credit: Abu Dhabi Festival
- Published on Friday, 31 May 2013 00:00
In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, its opponents, and the old regime continue to jockey for power. In the midst of a security vacuum, a looming economic crisis and a political stalemate, no one is paying much attention to culture. When and if they do, artists don’t expect much encouragement from the new Islamist government. But for the moment, they are taking advantage of a new margin of freedom, using public spaces and trying to reach wider audiences.
As you walk past a particular shop in downtown Cairo, you notice something strange. A large face nearly fills the entire window, and its eyes follow you as you move.
READ MORE AT PRI's The World
*Photo Credit: Hossam el-Hamalawy حسام الحملاوي
- Published on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 00:00
If Facebook is the ultimate popularity test, then the most famous art institute on the planet is not in Paris, New York or London.
It's a tiny gallery hidden on the fifth floor of a nondescript building in Amsterdam.
Measuring a meager 750 square feet, The Greenbox Museum is the only museum in the world dedicated solely to Saudi contemporary art, and with over a million Facebook "likes", it is more loved than the Tate, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Louvre.
READ MORE AT CNN.com
*Photo Credit: Greenbox Museum via Facebook
- Published on Wednesday, 01 May 2013 00:00
When I Saw You, the second feature film by leading Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir (Salt of this Sea), centers on an 11-year-old boy who has been exiled to Jordan along with his mother in the wake of the 1967 War and Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Rejecting the situation, young Tarek sets off from the refugee camp back to Palestine on his own, but is picked up and taken in by a group of fedayeen — the young, idealist fighters who were ready to sacrifice their lives to liberate Palestine in the ’60s and ’70s.
When I Saw You was screened during the sold-out opening night of the Chicago Palestine Film Festival earlier this month, where Jacir was present. I sat down with the director, who told me that she made a hopeful film despite her deep depression, how she put her actors through military training, and described the lengthy search to find the young star of her film. The following transcript was edited for length.
READ MORE AT The Electronic Intifada
- Published on Sunday, 26 May 2013 09:31
“Art is a way of life,” says Morrocan artist Hassan Hajjaj.
We are all artists in our own way, and Hassan Hajjaj is definetly making art a personal story. A unique London-based artist from Morroco, Hajjaj has lived in London since the 1970s, creating exceptional and odd pieces of art that manifest into all sorts of things such as canvases, prints, and even furniture.
A school drop out that would one day transform himself into a fantastic artist, there’s so much more to Hassan Hajjaj than just art.
READ MORE AT Khaleej Esque
*Photo Credit: Courtesy of Crossway Foundation via Facebook
- Published on Monday, 13 May 2013 00:00
When Aakash Nihalani walks through the streets of New York City, he notices interesting colors, shapes, and other objects as much as the next person. But instead of taking an Instagram photo or making a mental note, Nihalani outlines that interesting object or shape with using the neon tape that he carries on him at all times, boxed within square or cube patterns. It is an ongoing series of both street art and indoor installations, the latter of which can be seen at his current show “Islands” at Brooklyn’s Signal Gallery through May 14.
This street artist highlights and emphasizes space in a way that’s elegant in its simplicity and form.
READ MORE AT Blouin ArtInfo
*Photo Credit: Poster Boy NYC
- Published on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 00:00
Launched in 2012, The Butterfly Effect event series has given Amman a breath of fresh air. When I first attended one of the events in March 2012, I forgot I was in Jordan as I listened to poets and musicians from all over – Palestine, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, and America. I was exposed to acoustic tunes, beat boxing, slam poetry, hip-hop and rock music. The vibe was right, the poetry was tight, and the music was off the chain!
READ MORE AT Kalimat Magazine
*Photo Credit: YouinJordan.com on Facebook
- Published on Friday, 24 May 2013 09:26
Though I’d done a good bit of dispassionate research, my perception of Iran was still largely dominated by the image depicted in American media reports—the country seemed angry, fanatic, and bent on conflict with the West. My recent viewing of Argo hadn’t helped matters. The Oscar-nominated film was currently number one at the box office. And for many Americans, its violent depiction of Iran was their only exposure to the country. The dark landscape below did little to dispel my anxieties. From high in the air, all I could make out was a great, black expanse, dotted occasionally by outposts of light. I foolishly imagined the clusters of light to be military checkpoints, anti-aircraft batteries, oil refineries, and underground nuclear bunkers. Even from 30,000 feet, the whole country seemed menacing. The Western media’s portrayal of Iran still had a firm hold on me. And since it was too dark to tell otherwise, the revelations would have to wait.
READ MORE AT Bettery Magazine
*Photo Credit: Brandon Stanton, photo courtesy of Humans of New York via Facebook
- Published on Saturday, 11 May 2013 00:00
A man holds a placard of former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi and faces a screen playing footage identical to the man’s surroundings, almost. On the screen, the sign he’s holding turns into a photo of Muslim Brotherhood leader Khairat El-Shater. The other signs featuring non-Islamist leaders appear as either Islamist politicians or members of the Mubarak regime. Chants supporting President Mohamed Morsi echo through that Zamalek street.
Sameh El-Tawil was taking pictures and video footage. He said he’ll post the “fake” video online showcasing the distorted image of reality, his own commentary on the nation’s media and political scenes providing both a backdrop and inspiration to his and others’ digital installations that breezy March night.
READ MORE AT Al-Monitor
*Photo Credit: Cairo Digital Art Festival via Facebook
- Published on Monday, 29 April 2013 00:00
From Haifa to Ramallah, New York to San Francisco, the three Palestinian rappers from DAM have been busy promoting their new album Dabke on the Moon. But this time, more than a decade after first mesmerizing young Palestinians with political rhymes against Israeli oppression, the musicians have sparked criticism from an unlikely group — liberal Palestinian academics.
Their fans have been waiting six years for the release of their new album, which is full of danceable messages from the three wise men of Arabic hip hop. But the emcees have directed some of their new lyrical criticism to oppression in Palestinian society.
READ MORE AT Al-Monitor
*Photo Credit: Christopher Hazou
- Published on Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
There was something in the cut, the yards of teal-green flowing chiffon, the sheer panel and gold decorative trim at the waist, not to mention the distinctive romance of form, that had people asking: did the dress Florence Welch was wearing during her stellar Sandance concert at the weekend come from the East?
It turns out the dress came from none other than the Dubai-born Asian-British designer Marina Qureshi, who graduated from Esmod Dubai in 2010 with a degree in fashion design and pattern-making.
READ MORE AT The National
*Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Marina Qureshi London via Facebook
- Published on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 00:00
With 430 color photographs, Mia Gröndahl’s “Revolution Graffiti: Street Art of the New Egypt” (American University in Cairo Press) offers a full and vibrant look at street art in Egypt. The photographer and author, who lives in Cairo, explains that graffiti was practically unknown before the revolution, with a few exceptions (Hajj paintings, for example, which might be put up on the walls of a household whose members made the pilgrimage to Mecca, and commercial slogans that were sometimes painted directly on walls). Then came January 25, 2011, and the street art scene in Egypt was born overnight in an incubator of popular unrest. It would be hard to imagine a more urgently political artistic movement: its locations, references, and iconography are all connected to the demands of revolution. Here are a few highlights...
READ MORE AT Blouin ArtInfo
*Photo Credit: Gigi Ibrahim
- Published on Sunday, 28 April 2013 00:00
On Friday, April 26, the Mira Nair-directed thriller “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” [opened] in theaters across the United States. The film, based on the novel by the Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid, stars the British actor Riz Ahmed as a possible terrorist.
The film begins at an outdoor café in Lahore in 2011 with Mr. Ahmed as Changez, a young Pakistani, telling an American journalist called Bobby, played by Liev Schreiber, his life story and how he ended up back in his homeland. A Princeton graduate, he landed a job at a prestigious financial firm in New York, fell in love with Erica, played by Kate Hudson and was on his way to having it all when Sept. 11, 2001 intervened. He was strip searched and interrogated because of his Pakistani origin, which led him to start questioning who he really was.
READ MORE AT The New York Times India Ink