SAFAR Film Festival

The fourth edition of SAFAR is taking place at the ICA and the Institut Francais, running from 13-18 September. The festival, curated by Joseph Fahim, included films from Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Palestine, the genres ranging from adaptations, "creative documentaries," shorts and features. The full program can be found here.  I attended the second … Continue reading SAFAR Film Festival

Banipal Book Club discusses Frankenstein in Baghdad

Yesterday The Banipal Book Club met at the Rosetta Stone Bookshop to discuss Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi. There was quite a crowd at the store, reflecting the book's popularity both in the original Arabic and -- perhaps even more -- in translation. The unprecedented success of this particular book in translation did come … Continue reading Banipal Book Club discusses Frankenstein in Baghdad

Arab Films Entered for Oscars

There are films from 92 countries entered for the Foreign Film category of the Oscars. Among these are eight films from Arabic-speaking countries. Several of the films deal in various ways with the impact of the conflict in Syria. There is the documentary from Syria, “Little Gandhi,” which follows the life and death of Syrian … Continue reading Arab Films Entered for Oscars

Museum of Lost Objects

BBC Radio 4 has a series called The Museum of Lost Objects presented by Kanishk Tharoor, and produced by Maryam Maruf which "traces the stories of 10 antiquities or ancient sites that have been destroyed or looted in Iraq and Syria." There are currently five episodes available to listen to or download, and you can subscribe … Continue reading Museum of Lost Objects

Revolutionary Voices, Stockholm, March 2-8

Re:Orient in Stockholm, which arranges cultural events focusing on the Middle East, North Africa and the Balkans, is celebrating Music Freedom Day as well as International Women's Day  with their week long Revolutionary Voices program from March 2-8. The program includes documentary screenings, a couple of panels and a concert, featuring Rim Banna, Tania Saleh, Dina … Continue reading Revolutionary Voices, Stockholm, March 2-8

From Mathaf to Madrid

The exhibition Looking at the World Around You: Contemporary Works from Qatar Museums is being held from 9 February to 19 June 2016 at the Santander Art Gallery in Boadilla del Monte, Madrid, the "first major loan exhibition in Europe of works from Mathaf, the Arab Museum of Contemporary Art in Doha."   This selection, more … Continue reading From Mathaf to Madrid

International Prize for Arabic fiction shortlist

This year, the shortlist for the IPAF (International Prize for Arabic fiction) includes "a Syrian novel about Islamic State’s occupation of Raqqa to an Egyptian dystopian thriller" among other novels that “address the tragedy of the present-day Middle East.” The Syrian novel is A Sky Close to Our House by Shahla Ujayli,  although since we … Continue reading International Prize for Arabic fiction shortlist

Estabrak Al Ansari Exhibition in Muscat

A solo exhibition by Iraqi-British artist Estabrak Al Ansari at the Gallery Sarah in Muscat will run till October 10,  on every Saturday to Thursday. The exhibition, titled "Consciousness" explores "existence in places where we cannot exist for long periods of time" - in much of her work, the symbolism of water as an element where we cannot live becomes … Continue reading Estabrak Al Ansari Exhibition in Muscat

Kareem Risan: Memory of Another City

Iraqi artist Kareem Risan's exhibition Memory of Another City runs from 8 September through to 17 October at Katara Art Center.  The exhibition focuses on Risan's paintings that reflect on the traces and remnants of war and Baghdad's many walls and barricades. “Wall paintings and signs were and still are one of humanity’s expressive styles and means … Continue reading Kareem Risan: Memory of Another City

Notes on Translingual Literature

Over the past two days I attended a two day symposium held in Uppsala on translingual literature. Since I have not read widely in the field, some of the talks went way over my head, but it was a good introduction to the theories and methods and influential studies that are shaping ideas about translingual literature, and … Continue reading Notes on Translingual Literature

Highlights of Shubbak 2015

In a wide-ranging article which provides an overview of the Arab art scene in the West, Lana Asfour writes about the commission and performance of an opera based on the acclaimed novel Cities of Salt by Abdelrahman Munif as part of this year's ongoing Shubbak festival. As Asfour writes, Cities of Salt is "arguably [Munif's] greatest work, … Continue reading Highlights of Shubbak 2015

Alif’s Debut Album

Electronic Intifada describes Alif as "a kind of alternative Arabic supergroup." CairoScene calls them "A motley crew of the Arab world best loved underground musicians." Both agree that their debut album, Aynama-Rtama, is very, very good - as would be expected from a group comprised of Khyam Allami, Tamer Abu Ghazaleh, Khaled Yassine, Bashar Farran and Maurice Louca. There … Continue reading Alif’s Debut Album

She Who Tells A Story

The exhibit “She Who Tells A Story” is a photography exhibit, a smaller scale Light from the Middle East which is dedicated to the work of women artists, featuring work by twelve women photographers from Iran and the Arab world. The photographers are: Iraqi Jananne Al-Ani, Yemeni Boushra Almutawakel, Iranians Gohar Dashti, Shadi Ghadirian, Newsha Tavakolian and Shirin Neshat, Egyptians Nermine … Continue reading She Who Tells A Story

{De} Perception: Live Art and Music

On May 29, at the the Painted Bride Art Cente in Philadelphia, two Syrian-born artists, Ayman Alalao and Kinan Abou-afach, will be part of a "non-linear storytelling" performance, which involves linking music and visuals to illustrate themes of Arab history and heritage. Here is a preview: Kinan Abou-afach has been involved in other collaborations between musicians and visual artists, such … Continue reading {De} Perception: Live Art and Music

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here in Dearborn

From March 6 to July 12, the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here exhibition will be on display at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn. The Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here Collection, founded by San Francisco bookseller Beau Beausoleil in the weeks after the bombing, includes broadsides, artist books, prints and an anthology of essays and poetry. Exhibits have been … Continue reading Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here in Dearborn

Arab Artists Reacting to ISIL

In a recent Al Monitor article, Mona Alami writes about the work of artists from Iraq, Lebanon and Syria who are reacting to ISIL. Alami discusses the work of  Lebanese artist Raouf Rifai, and Iraqi artists Nada al-Hasnawi, and Aqeel Khreef and Syrian Kais Salman.   Alami writes: All these artists have learned to scrutinize the country’s political and social reality, … Continue reading Arab Artists Reacting to ISIL

Four Arab Films at TIFF

Saibal Chatterjee at The Gulf Today writes about the four Arab films screened at the 39th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF),  Palestinian Suha Arraf’s Villa Touma on four Christian women in Ramallah, Jordanian Naji Abu Nowar’s "Bedouin Western" Theeb (Wolf), Lebanese Ghassan Salhab’s drama of amnesia and hostage-taking, The Valley, and Iraqi-Moroccan Tala Hadid’s "psychologically … Continue reading Four Arab Films at TIFF

Acting the Arab

A few days ago, I came across this article, where Nabil Elouahabi criticises the 'real problem' of the stereotyped portrayal of Arabs in films and television, and scrolled down to the comments, which typically asserted that the stereotypes weren't stereotypes, but based on reality and probabibility,  capped with that definitive line "No all Muslims are … Continue reading Acting the Arab

The American Granddaughter

Iraqi writer and journalist Inaam Kachachi's novel Tashari was one of three novels by Iraqi writers which were included in the longlist for IPAF 2014, along with Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, and The Sad Night of Ali Baba by Abdel Khaliq al Rikabi. The shortlist will be announced tomorrow, 10th of February. I … Continue reading The American Granddaughter

Frankenstein in Baghdad

Doing some research on the first Gulf war, I came across a brief article from 1990  in the Los Angeles Times with the title "Iraq Turns Into 'Frankenstein Monster,' Iranians Say": "Likening Iraq to Frankenstein's monster turning on its creators, Iran's media Monday stepped up its attack on Baghdad for invading Kuwait." And then there … Continue reading Frankenstein in Baghdad

From Iraq to Syria

I recently came across "Roads to Damascus", a musical and visual art collaboration by the composer Kinan Abou-afach and Armenian-Syrian visual artist Kevork Mourad, which uses music and live painting as vehicles to create a new way of storytelling, making usually static paintings that people stand and look at for a few seconds into works … Continue reading From Iraq to Syria