Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Selma Gurbuz (Turkish, b. 1960)

Kedili doga, nature with cats
acrylic on canvas
60.8 x 113 in. / 154.5 x 287 cm.

Moonlit nudes
oil and velvet tape on canvas
61.8 x 109.4 in. / 157 x 278 cm.

Title Figurative composition
Medium mixed media on canvas
Size 59.8 x 108.7 in. / 152 x 276 cm.

Source: artnet

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Bagpipes and Kaffiyas: Palestine

Palestinian bandsmen play in front of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in the West Bank on the day most Christians celebrate Christmas Eve. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/AP)

Source: BBC

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


Monday, 28 July 2008

Afdhere Jama: Illegal Citizens: Queer Lives in the Muslim world

Afdhere Jama: Illegal Citizens: Queer Lives in the Muslim world

About the Book: In Illegal Citizens: Queer Lives in the Muslim world, Afdhere Jama chronicles the struggles of thirty-three lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people in twenty-two countries. The majority of these people live in countries where it is illegal to have same-sex relationships. Caught between the modern world of the internet and the severe laws they face, many risk everything by meeting, having sex, or falling in love with other queers.

About the Author: Afdhere Jama was born and raised in Somalia. At the age of seventeen, he came to America after a devastating civil war in his country. He is the editor of Huriyah, a bi-lingual queer Muslim magazine distributed in nineteen Arabic-speaking countires with an English version online. His writings on queer sexuality and Islam have appeared in publications all over the world. His first book, a poetry volume titled At Noonday with the Gods of Somalia, was published in 2004. He lives in California.

Amazon UK | US

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Waltz with Bashir (Israel)

[Ari] Folman's "Waltz With Bashir" is a remarkable, haunting and intense work, quite unlike any animated film I've ever seen. Hand drawn in a crude, colorful underground-comics style, it captures Folman's struggle to recapture his lost memories of what he saw and what he did during Israel's ill-fated 1980s war in Lebanon, when he was a young draftee. Folman says that for many years he had no clear memories of his time in Lebanon, although he knew he had seen combat and that he had witnessed the Sabra and Shatila massacres of September 1982, when pro-Israeli Lebanese Christian militiamen carried out a near-genocidal campaign of murder in two Palestinian refugee camps.

While trying to work his way out of a severe depression, Folman contacted many of his former military comrades, along with a psychiatrist friend and a neurologist who specializes in memory impairment. The film combines pieces of these interviews with fragmentary episodes drawn from these men's memories, dreams and perhaps fantasies, all of them (until the utterly devastating last scenes) delivered in the same animation style. At least in part, the subject of "Waltz With Bashir" -- the title refers to Lebanese president-elect Bashir Gemayel, whose assassination inflamed Lebanese Christians to widespread anti-Muslim violence -- is the unreliable and fantastic quality of memory itself. One friend's dream about being pursued by a pack of wild dogs seems just as real or unreal as another's eerie memory of a firefight in a remote orchard against a shadowy opponent -- a boy of 11 or 12, who blows up an Israeli tank with an RPG before being killed himself. (Folman was involved in this battle, but apparently still cannot remember it.)

Oddly, the adventure-comics presentation of Folman's memory excavation lends it less rather than more power. (As he has said, the alternative was to shoot a bunch of middle-aged men talking.) His resurrected war stories really are exciting adventures, but also terrible, nightmarish and finally pointless ones. Dredging up these dreadful memories may have been therapeutic for the men involved, but the point of "Waltz With Bashir" is bigger than that. It's a provocative, strange and arresting film, whose unusual blend of style and substance should reach a large worldwide audience.

Source: Salon

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Breaking the Veils: Women Artists from the Islamic World [II]

Fahda Bint Saud. (Saudi Arabia, 1953). Woman-1. (1992). Watercolor on paper. (86 X 64 cm).
Fahda Bint Saud. (Saudi Arabia, 1953). Woman-1. (1992). Watercolor on paper. (86 X 64 cm).

Mounira Nusseibeh. (Palestine, 1943). Kneeling in Front of the Mosque. (1983). Mixed media on canvas. (151 X 100 cm)
Mounira Nusseibeh. (Palestine, 1943). Kneeling in Front of the Mosque. (1983). Mixed media on canvas. (151 X 100 cm)

Morteza Katouzian, Iran

Morteza Katouzian: The Red Alert(1980) Oil on canvas, 80x60 cm
"The Red Alert" (1980) Oil on canvas, 80x60 cm

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Breaking the Veils: Women Artists from the Islamic World

Breaking the Veils: Women Artists from the Islamic World

Houria Niati. (Algeria, 1948). Violence and Power. (1988). Oil pastel on paper. (110 x 80 cm).

Houria Niati. (Algeria, 1948). Violence and Power. (1988). Oil pastel on paper. (110 x 80 cm).

Suad Attar. (Iraq, 1939). The Blue Paradise. (1989). Oil on canvas. (85 X 100 cm).

Suad Attar. (Iraq, 1939). The Blue Paradise. (1989). Oil on canvas. (85 X 100 cm).

Monday, 30 June 2008

Louis Armstrong, Cairo, 1961

Louis Armstrong, Cairo, 1951

© Bettmann/Corbis photo

In 1961, Satchmo visited Cairo as part of the America's 'Jazz diplomacy' against the Soviet Union.

See Fred Kaplan's NYT article on the subject, and its contemporary reincarnation.

See also Penny M. Von Eschen's Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War
Harvard University Press.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Monir Farmanfarmaian, Iran

Monir Farmanfarmaian, Iran

Monir Farmanfarmaian, Iran

The Lady Reappears. 2008
Mirror mosaic
150 x 80 cm

Source: Nafas

Friday, 18 April 2008

Under The Bombs a film by Philippe Aractingi

Under The Bombs a film by Philippe Aractingi

Under The Bombs a film by by Philippe Aractingi


It's a wry, tragic road movie, shot in the war zone while the smell of cordite hung in the air and smoke still rose from shattered buildings. Revealing, occasionally darkly comic, Under the Bombs is raw, painfully vivid, full of sharp detail and extremely moving.


...a heartfelt road movie, with lacerating images of Israel's recent war in Lebanon. Paradoxically, by appearing in a fiction feature, these images achieve a reality that is never fully conveyed in television news reporting. With remarkable resourcefulness, Aractingi has simply taken his actors, camera and crew into the destroyed landscape and partly improvised a heartwrenching film from what he has found there. Nada Abou Farhat plays Zeina, a haughty, wealthy and beautiful woman who arrives in Beirut from Dubai in the summer of 2006, after the Israeli Defence Force's catastrophically misjudged bombardment of southern Lebanon. Desperately, she begs for a taxi driver to take her to a village in the south, to discover what has happened there to her young son. The only person who agrees is Tony (Georges Khabbaz), who appears to be louche, unreliable, in it for the cash. But Zeina's desperate quest opens a long-buried wound in Tony: his relationship with a fugitive brother who, during the last war in 1982, joined the collaborationist South Lebanese Army. Zeina and Tony are the oddest of odd couples, and I suspect Aractingi was never entirely sure how much sexual tension there should really be between them. But these human nuances are not as important as the vision of Lebanon's extraordinary, almost surreal landscapes of destruction and hurt.


Shot without a formal script during the middle of Israel's 33-day bombardment and invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 2006, the poignant Under the Bombs is a heartfelt road movie from Lebanese writer-director Philippe Aractingi. It tracks a wealthy Shiite woman Zeina (Nada Abou Farhat) and a Christian taxi driver Tony (Georges Khabbaz), who are travelling from Beirut to the devastated south of the country in search of Zeina's young son Karim and her sister.

Zeina and Tony make for an unlikely pairing, given their differences in class, religion and gender, and she initially sits in the back seat of his Mercedes and brushes aside his attempts at friendly conversation. When they reach the village of Kherbet Selem and discover that Zeina's family home is in ruins however, Tony vows to continue the search for Karim with his passenger, and she in turn reveals more about her own life.

About Farhat and Khabbaz are the only professional actors in Under the Bombs: all the supporting characters, whether they are refugees, soldiers, nuns, foreign journalists, Hezbollah supporters or aid workers, play themselves. Together with the news footage that's incorporated into the story, the casting gives the film a powerful authenticity. Aractingi isn't interested in political sermonising, but in showing the impact of this war on Lebanon's infrastructure and its civilian population. The film's credits are dedicated to "the suffering of the innocent", and the ending to Zeina's quest is appropriately wrenching.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Khirbet Khizeh by S. Yizhar

Khirbet Khizeh Y. Yizhar
Khirbet Khizeh by S. Yizhar

This 1949 novella about the violent expulsion of Palestinian villagers by the Israeli army has long been considered a modern Hebrew masterpiece, and it has also given rise to fierce controversy over the years. Published just months after the end of the 1948 war, Khirbet Khizeh (the “kh” pronounced like the “ch” in “Bach”) was an immediate sensation when it first appeared. Thousands of Israeli Jews rushed to read it, the critics began to argue about it, and a Palestinian journalist in Nablus described it as a sign that the Israeli army had a conscience and that peace was possible.

Since then, the book has continued to challenge and disturb. The various debates it has prompted would themselves make Khirbet Khizeh worth reading, but the novella is much more than a vital historical document: it is also a great work of art. Yizhar’s haunting, lyrical style and charged registration of the landscape are in many ways as startling as his wrenchingly honest view of one of Israel’s defining moments. Despite its international reputation, the book has never before been translated into English. Nicholas de Lange and Yaacob Dweck’s expert rendering captures with grace Yizhar’s elusive prose, while David Shulman’s afterword makes the book’s contemporary relevance powerfully clear. Khirbet Khizeh is an absolute must for anyone interested in Middle Eastern literature and history.

See also Economist review

Khirbet Khizeh Y. YizharTHERE is a myth that once upon a time no Israelis had moral qualms. Only after years of occupying the Palestinians, and after the series of books by revisionist Israeli historians that began appearing in the late 1980s, did Jewish Israelis start opening their eyes to the destruction that they themselves visited on another people in their attempt to create a refuge from the vast evil done to them. It is astonishing, therefore, to read the novella “Khirbet Khizeh”, just issued in English by Ibis Editions, a tiny non-profit house in Jerusalem dedicated to the translation of obscure gems.

First published in 1949, a year after the declaration of independence and 57 years before the publication of “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” by Ilan Pappé, perhaps the most controversial of Israel's historians, “Khirbet Khizeh” describes in detail one such act of ethnic cleansing. It is based on the experiences of its author, S. Yizhar (pen-name of Yizhar Smilansky), who was an intelligence officer in the newborn state's army. Blowing a further hole in the myth is the news, learnt from the helpful afterword by David Shulman, a peace activist, that the book has long been an optional text in the official Israeli school curriculum.

In the story, a squad is detailed to clear a Palestinian village that has remained on the Israeli side of the 1949 ceasefire line and pack its residents off in trucks with only the clothes on their backs (Benny Morris, an Israeli historian, has calculated that of 369 Palestinian towns and villages in what became Israel, at least 41 were forcibly evacuated, and in at least 228 the residents fled under attack by Zionist forces). When the narrator, his mind ringing with thoughts of how Jews were exiled by their persecutors, blurts out a protest, one of his comrades retorts: “Are we killing them? We're taking them to their side. Let them sit there and wait. It's very decent of us. There's no other place in the world where they'd have been treated as well as this.”

That quotation sums up why, despite being a school text, and despite the historians' efforts, “Khirbet Khizeh” is not central to the national consciousness. The whatever-we-did-we-suffered-worse rationale has allowed most Jewish Israelis to draw a veil over the sins of the state's early years, even as their misgivings about the post-1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza have grown.

Available in the US from Small Press Distributors. Elsewhere on the world see Ibis Editions website.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Harum Scarum: Elvis Presley School of Foreign Policy?

Harum Scarum: 1001 Swingin' nights

Elvis brings his Big Beat to Bagdad in a riotous rockin' rollin' adventure spoof!!!

Elvis in a land of Arabian daze and nights.

"Go East Young Man," sings show-biz star and martial arts wiz Johnny Tyrone. To hear is to obey. A clandestine group called the Assassins kidnaps Johnny and whisks him to a remote Arabian realm isolated from the world for 2,000 years.

Sheik meets desert chic...

The kidnappers want Johnny to use his finesse to kill a desert king.

Johnny a hitman?

No, he's a hit,
man a top singer of songs like Kismet, Harem Holiday and nine more, all part of the jammin,' swashbucklin' fun of Harum Scarum


Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Flavia Codsi, Lebanon

No Fly Zone

Jammal's Choice

Les Dormeurs

Source: ArteEast

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Santa's Ghetto @ Bethlehem

Tawfiq Salsaa and Banksy  'Jerusalem'  it's a perfect scale model of Jerusalem carved out of local olive wood by a wise old man entirely from memory. It took three years to complete and then Banksy turned up and stuck a bunch of miniature watch towers all over it. 'Collaboration' would be the nice way to put it, 'a flaming liberty' might be nearer the mark.

Tawfiq Salsaa and Banksy


it's a perfect scale model of Jerusalem carved out of local olive wood by a wise old man entirely from memory. It took three years to complete and then Banksy turned up and stuck a bunch of miniature watch towers all over it. 'Collaboration' would be the nice way to put it, 'a flaming liberty' might be nearer the mark.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Banksy @ Bethlehem

This Banksy exhibit has sparked controversy. This wounded cherub work has been mistakenly identified as Jesus by some, despite denials by Banksy's PR people.
Source: BBC

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Nox Magazine [Amman]: Top 10 Arab Rappers

Nox Magazine [Amman]:  Top 10 Arab RappersTop 10 Arab Rappers

With Arab hip hop in the ascendancy, we asked artists, labels, managers and fans to nominate the best Arab rappers across the world The results from our exhaustive research are...

10. Ramallah Underground
9. Timz
8. Omar Offendum/ NOMADS
7. The Philistines
6. Salah Edin
5. Narcy

Friday, 31 August 2007

Film: Meeting Resistance

Meeting Resistance: A Film by Steve Connors and Molly BinghamMeeting Resistance: A film by Steve Connors and Molly Bingham

MEETING RESISTANCE is a verité-style non-fiction feature-length film set in the streets, alleyways and ubiquitous teashops of the Adhamiya neighborhood of Baghdad. It enters the physical and psychological heart of the "insurgency" against the American occupation. Photojournalists/directors Steve Connors and Molly Bingham spent ten-months among the insurgents there to create this exclusive, unique, and at once horrifying, compelling and insightful film about their lives, motivation, and goals.

MEETING RESISTANCE focuses on eight "insurgents", each with his or her own tale and reasons for opposing the American-led occupation, yet all people who within days of the fall of Baghdad were arranging themselves into resistance cells, finding the money and weapons to fight against the American military. The film witnesses how they began to organize themselves, reveals why they have decided to violently oppose the occupation of the country, and hears in their words the underlying ideological foundations to their fight and how and why those have changed over time.

MEETING RESISTANCE is a fascinating journey through a tumultuous period with diverse members of the Iraqi resistance. Their personal stories as well as their ideological ones are at once dramatic, eye-opening, and concerning - and they challenge the notion that those opposing the occupation are simply "dead enders," "common criminals," "Al-Qaeda operatives" and "die-hard Ba'athis."

Directors Steve Connors' and Molly Bingham's unsurpassed access and visually stunning cinematography makes this film a one-of-a-kind; essential viewing for audiences around the world concerned with a deeper understanding of the current situation in Iraq, and with the human condition of resistance.


The Teacher

In his late forties is married with three children. This quiet, philosophical man is active in the resistance. Never a member of the Ba'ath party - which he loathed - he is a family man who has devoted his life to teaching. During the fighting around the Abu Hanifeh mosque in Adhamiya on April 9th and 10th 2003 The Teacher helped out by guiding foreign volunteer fighters through the backstreets of his neighborhood. He was shamed by their willingness to fight and die for Iraq while most Iraqis - especially the Ba'ath party members - failed to stand in defense of the country. The Teacher described his pre 2003 war life as secular. However after a brief period of 'shock' after the war he joined an Islamic group and began working with them as a weapons procurer.

The Wife

With a husband and two sons involved in fighting the Americans The Wife lives in a permanent state of poverty and fear. She doesn't know whether they'll all come home and when they do she has little to put on the table. In addition to being a wife and mother she also works in the resistance as a courier carrying messages and sometimes weapons between groups.

The Wife is Shi'a.

The Traveler

Left home when he was just a teenager to fight alongside the Palestinians, and did so for the next twenty years. Although a long-time member of the Ba'ath party, he quit in the mid 1990's because of political corruption at the district level. The Traveler is now too old to do much in the way of actual fighting in Iraq but his skill and experience - honed in the years of fighting a guerilla war against the Israelis - are very much in demand. He works as an organizer, strategist and consultant to a number of resistance cells in Baghdad and the provinces.

The Traveler is Shi'a.

The Fugitive

A young man in his mid-twenties. Before the US led invasion he had deserted from the Iraqi army but later volunteered to fight in the resistance. After receiving training in Ramadi he became the commander of a small squad of fighters operating outside of Adhamiya.

The Warrior

A former special-forces officer in his mid thirties, he was one of twenty-three survivors of a 1,000 man strong suicide unit sent to Kerbala and Najaf to put down the Shia insurrection in 1991. Having successfully completed their mission the twenty-three survivors returned to their Baghdad base only to be charged with dereliction of duty - for surviving - and sentenced to death. Their sentences were commuted to life in prison on appeal. The Warrior was released 3 1/2 years later during a general amnesty having suffered extreme torture. While his experience bred in him a great hatred of the Ba'ath party, Saddam Hussein's reputation as a leader remained untarnished. After his release he refused to return to the military though they sought him - but when Iraq was invaded in 2003 The Warrior re-joined his old army unit. When the initial fighting was over he slept for a couple of days then started his own resistance cell. In addition to organizing, training and leading his own group, he works with other groups as a roving consultant.

The Republican Guard

A career officer who served right up to the end of the US invasion in the elite Republican Guard formation of the Iraqi Army. As a mid-rank staff officer the Republican Guard witnessed the collapse of the army and the regime from the inside. As the fighting at Baghdad airport came to a close his commander ordered the officers to carry out suicide attacks. Instead they chose to go home in order to perhaps fight another day. The Republican Guard is in his early thirties, married with children. He is Sunni, married to a Shi'a woman.

The Imam

A young, thoughtful family man who was jailed under Saddam on suspicion of being a Wahabi - a charge that he denies. The Imam worked as a shopkeeper before becoming a junior Imam at a mosque. He studied the Koran - passing the required tests - in order to take up a position as head in his own mosque. The Imam calls for Jihad against the occupation believing there is no choice but to do so, as it is prescribed in the Koran and the teachings of Mohamed. Although he denies any direct involvement in the movement, he provides spiritual guidance to his congregation on the subject of Jihad and its 'correct implementation'. He understands and reflects on the inherent conundrum - the fact that he believes that he must preach Jihad in spite of the damage that the fighting inflicts on the country.

The Imam comes from a mixed Sunni-Shi'a family.

The Syrian

A young man from small town Syria who answered the call to Jihad that came from his local mosque. Having persuaded his family to give their blessing he volunteered through the mosque. After testing The Syrian's determination his Imam put him in touch with people who would facilitate his entry into Iraq. Once in Iraq he was taken under the wing of an Iraqi fighter who provided him with 'on-the-job' training and a place in a community of like-minded people.

The Syrian is Shi'a.

The Professor

A lecturer in political science at Baghdad University, The Professor is a native of the western Iraqi city of Falluja. In 2003 he undertook a research project in his hometown to identify and analyze the make-up and structure of the resistance movement in that area. By attending funerals and interviewing the families of men who were killed fighting against coalition forces, The Professor was able to learn about the backgrounds and motivation of those who chose to fight. Adhamiya has strong tribal, social and economic ties to Falluja and the results of The Professor's research were in line with the discoveries made in the course of the making of Meeting Resistance.

The Lieutenant

A junior officer in the paramilitary Fedayeen Saddam, The Lieutenant fought with his unit at Baghdad airport and in the Adhamiya district in early April 2003. In his mid-twenties, he comes from a family with a long history of Iraqi military service. Parts of his unit reconstituted at the end of April 2003 after purportedly receiving orders in a letter from Saddam Hussein.

Lilia Zaouali: Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World

Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World: A Concise History with 174 Recipes by Lilia Zaouali. Translated by M. B. DeBevoise, with a Foreword by Charles Perry Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World: A Concise History with 174 Recipes by Lilia Zaouali.
Translated by M. B. DeBevoise, with a Foreword by Charles Perry. University of California Press.

Vinegar and sugar, dried fruit, rose water, spices from India and China, sweet wine made from raisins and dates--these are the flavors of the golden age of Arab cuisine. This book, a delightful culinary adventure that is part history and part cookbook, surveys the gastronomical art that developed at the Caliph's sumptuous palaces in ninth-and tenth-century Baghdad, drew inspiration from Persian, Greco-Roman, and Turkish cooking, and rapidly spread across the Mediterranean. In a charming narrative, Lilia Zaouali brings to life Islam's vibrant culinary heritage.

The second half of the book gathers an extensive selection of original recipes drawn from medieval culinary sources along with thirty-one contemporary recipes that evoke the flavors of the Middle Ages. Featuring dishes such as Chicken with Walnuts and Pomegranate, Beef with Pistachios, Bazergan Couscous, Lamb Stew with Fresh Apricots, Tuna and Eggplant Purée with Vinegar and Caraway, and Stuffed Dates, the book also discusses topics such as cookware, utensils, aromatic substances, and condiments, making it both an entertaining read and an informative resource for anyone who enjoys the fine art of cooking.

Amazon US UK

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Atil Kutoglu: Fashion Designer

Atil Kutoglu, Turkish Vienna based fashion designerm to redesign headscarf for Abdullah Gul's wife, Hayrunnisa Gul.Atil Kutoglu to redesign headscarf for Abdullah Gul's wife.

A Vienna-based stylist is to redesign the wardrobe of the wife of Turkish presidential aspirant Abdullah Gul, including her Islamic headscarf which upsets secularists. "Hayrunnisa Gul has asked me to redesign her headscarf along with her whole wardrobe in a style that suits everyone, from the most modern to the most conservative," Atil Kutoglu told AFP Friday.

"I am to submit next week a range of around 10 samples combining Hollywood glamour with the seriousness which matches her position," Kutoglu said in a telephone interview from Turkey.

Turkish-born Kutoglu's clients include Hollywood actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and supermodel Naomi Campbell.

Atil Kutoglu, Turkish Vienna based fashion designerm to redesign headscarf for Abdullah Gul's wife, Hayrunnisa GulAtil Kutoglu

Launched in 1992, Kutoglu’s label stands for exotic, richly textured clothes with a Turkish flavor. That translates into lots of tunic necklines, genie pants, and spice-market colors. But there are always modern twists, such as the merging of luxe materials with funkier ones—leather with rich brocades, denim with mousseline and velvet. The designer, although born in Turkey, is based in Istanbul, and he has become a favorite among European royalty.

Sources: Daily Star [Lebanon], New York Magazine