Shadi Ghadirian (born 1974) is an Iranian woman photographer who continues to live and work in Tehran. Born shortly after the Iranian revolution, she was one of the first to graduate in photography from the University of Azad (in Tehran). After finishing her B. A., Ghadirian began her professional career as a photographer. She says that “quite by accident”, the subjects of her first two series were “women”. Her work is intimately linked to her identity as a Muslim woman living in Iran. Nonetheless, her art also deals with issues relevant to women living in other parts of the world. She questions the role of women in society and explores ideas of censorship, religion, modernity, and the status of women.
Her ‘Like Every Day’ Series was made after her marriage to fellow photographer, Peyman Hooshmand-zadeh. In this body of work, Ghadirian comments upon the daily repetitive routine to which many women find themselves consigned and by which many women are defined. Each of these color photographs depicts a figure draped in patterned fabric in place of the typical Iranian chador. However, instead of a face, each figure has a common household item such as an iron, a tea cup, a broom, a pot or a pan.
In one her interviews, while talking about her ‘Like Everyday’ Series she says “In my photos you see women wearing flowery chadors. It’s a kind of chador that women always wear inside the houses, they are colorful. In these photos you cannot see their faces. You can see, for example, a cup or things related to the household, things instead of their face”. While commenting on the life of women encumbered by domesticity, she says “I travel a lot and I see many many women around the world and I realize that it’s the woman, it’s the mother that’s always worried what should the baby eat. And if they are doctor, if they are teacher, if they are photographer, if they are housewife it doesn’t matter. In their mind they are always thinking about these things. It’s a part of the women’s life I think.”
We are not just a country of war or oil. We are a proud culture that goes back 6,000 years to the Sumerians. We have been making art for longer than anyone. This is what gives us identity. This is what will make our art last another 1,000 years, when all this war is forgotten.
A deviation from the original meaning of the sentence sung by the Egyptian Umm Kulthum, the grande dame of the Arabic song. That scream of a woman, chained by love and eager to regain her freedom, here becomes a revolutionary slogan, a universal formula for all the oppressed. - Sabrina Amrani
A wood sculpture installed in a dark room with a musical background emitting from speakers hanging around it, and a light being directed towards that sentence; the installation holds a strong, emotionally charged, and dedicated message of the struggles to acquire freedom.
The first film entirely shot in Saudi Arabia– written and directed by Saudi Arabian female Haifaa al-Mansour– is screening in New York City.
Wadjda (107 mins) is a tale about a young 10-year-old Saudi Arabian female who is determined to get a new green bicycle. She hopes to get the funds by winning a Quran-recitation competition at her school. According to a recent New York Times article, Mansour went through great lengths to shoot footage in Saudi Arabia, maintaining a delicate balance as to not to offend her country’s cultural norms.
The film debuted in Venice last year and has now made its way over to the New York and Los Angeles, for a limited time.
Wadjda is playing in two New York City theaters through October 10th:
Visitors to Larissa Sansour’s imagined nation have to navigate a bureaucratic maze.
“Her contributions come from the Nation Estate series of works, which conceive of a futuristic Palestinian state existing not in historical Palestine, or even in the West Bank and Gaza, but confined to a high-rise building.”
“ If the archeological sites in Gaza could talk, they would scream for help against the desecration to which they are being subjected by human hands. Some are being demolished, and new homes are built in their place. Others are being looted or neglected.
The Muslim and Christian archeological sites in Palestine are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of years old. According to Palestinian historian Nasser al-Yafawi, however, they are being continuously desecrated in several ways: construction occurs on top of them, the government neglects them, they are stolen by Israeli occupation or looted by thieves and antiquities traders in Gaza.
In an interview with Al-Monitor, Yafawi said that most of Gaza’s ruins are being looted by pirates or demolished in broad daylight to build houses on top of. He said that there is general ignorance about the cultural value of the ruins, and government employees tasked with protecting the ruins are not qualified to do so.”
When Objects Speak: Learning to Enable Personal Narratives
A Workshop with Susan Pattie
Whether working on one’s own memoir or preparing to interview others about their lives, this workshop provides an opportunity to explore the many ways in which household objects become vectors of memory and emotion.
Dr. Pattie will lead the workshop, demonstrating how a simple object can open multiple doors into both past and present. Techniques of interviewing will be discussed and the group will explore the ways in which an evocative object works on the senses, prompting a complex combination of memory and imagination, allowing insights into oneself and the Other. New questions evolve from the emerging narrative, revealing more about the person, the family, the wider group.
Dr. Susan Pattie is Director of the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA), a cultural anthropologist and author of articles and books on the Armenian diaspora.
The Graduate Center, City University of New York, Skylight Room
For more info: http://memeac.gc.cuny.edu/2013/08/26/9-25-2013-when-objects-speak-susan-pattie/
Wednesday, September 25th-28th, 2013
** Arabic only performance only on September 28th at 2pm**
The Freedom Theatre Company performs The Island
Written by noted South African playwright, Athol Fugard, with John Kani and Winston Ntshona, the play, “The Island” , takes place in a prison, based on Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was held captive for 27 years. It is founded on a true story.
Two prisoners share a cell. After their exhausting days of hard labor they spend their nights rehearsing for a performance of a play by Sophocles: “Antigone”. Antigone defies the laws of the state to follow her conscience and is sentenced to death for her crime by her uncle, King Creon.
The Freedom Theatre is a community based theatre established in 2006 in the Jenin Refugee Camp, Palestine. It incorporates theatrical productions, a three-year acting school and classes in film-making, photography, writing and multi-media projects. It uses culture and creativity as a non-violent means of resistance to the Israeli Occupation.
Wednesday, September 25 – Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Art Exhibition: The Sheltering Word
Opening reception on Wednesday, September 25, 6:15 pm, Heyman Center
The Sheltering Word represents an artist’s quest to explore the healing and protective power of the written word as a specific cultural idiom and takes the form of a dialogue between Greek and North African cultures.
Heyman Center for the Humanities, Columbia University
Mia Gröndahl, the photographer of “Gaza Grafﬁti: Messages of Love and Politics” and “Tahrir Square: The Heart of the Egyptian Revolution”, has followed and documented the constantly and rapidly changing grafﬁti art of the new Egypt from its beginnings, and here in more than 400 full-color images celebrates the imagination, the skill, the humor, and the political will of the young artists and activists who have claimed the walls of Cairo and other Egyptian cities as their canvas.
Gaza Strip, directed by James Longley (2002, 74 min.)
This documentary film serves as a good introduction to the Gaza Strip, and director James Longley will be present to talk about his experiences in Gaza. After film discussion with Helga Tawil-Souri (Media, Culture and Communication, NYU)
Between traditional and contemporary, Nawal’s compositions are an acoustic roots-based fusion, a reflection of the diverse character of the Comoros and beyond. Indo-Arabian-Persian music meets Bantu polyphonies and rhythms mixed with Sufi trance. Nawal sings mostly in Comorian (Shikomor) a language in the Swahili family, also with French, English and Arabic. She also espouses the philosophy of her great grandfather Al Maarouf, a grand Sufi master, who was inspired by mysrical trends in Islam.
Alwan for the Arts
For more info: http://www.alwanforthearts.org/event/954
Friday, September 27, 2013 8:00 pm
Belonging in Istanbul and Alexandria: Individual Citizens or Members of Communities
A Talk by Sinem Adar
Ambiguities of belonging mark individuals’ relationship with the state, nation and communities in post-Ottoman societies. This talk explores how non-Muslims in Istanbul and Alexandria experienced uncertainties during the unfolding of national projects in Turkey and Egypt, from the early 1920s until the 1970s. Based on interviews and newspaper reviews, Dr. Adar argues that non-Muslims in Istanbul were left in an ambiguous zone between individual citizenship and confessional membership. State policies that dissolved the communal realm as a primary basis of social organization rendered confessional communities symbolic—one exception was in the 1950s.
On the other hand, the communal realm was an important source of belonging for Non-Muslims in Alexandria especially when they lacked formal citizenship status, as it was the case with some non-Coptic and non-Muslim groups.
Sinem Adar is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Sociology Department at the University of South Florida. She recently defended her Ph.D. dissertation in Sociology at Brown University, entitled “Waiting for the Future, Longing for the Past: Ambiguities of Belonging in Turkey and Egypt.”
The Graduate Center, City University of New York
For more info: http://memeac.gc.cuny.edu/2013/08/26/9-27-2013-belongingin-istanbul-alexandra-sinem-adar/
Layla Al Attar (1942-1993) was one of Iraq’s most respected and influential painters in the 1970s and 80s. Layla was murdered alongside her husband by a U.S Missile attack that targeted the house she resided in, which was her sister Suad’s house, and several other civilian homes in her neighbourhood in Baghdad in 1993. Although the attack was considered to be accidental, many people believe the real reason behind the air-strike was due to one of her provocative pieces; which was a mosaic portrait of George H. W. Bush on the floor of the main entrance of Al Rasheed Hotel with the phrase “Bush is Criminal“ written beneath it.
The attack was ordered by Bill Clinton in retaliation for an attempted assassination on Bush in Kuwait in 1993. Most recently however, such claims of a targeted attack on Layla’s residence have been refuted by several members close to Layla’s family due to the simplicity of the thought and the improbability of a powerful government targeting a simple artist. This has also been refuted because according to several resources Layla didn’t create that mosaic of Bush, but she was rather a manager at the Arts Institute that commissioned an artist from Diyala/Baqubah to create it.
The details of Layla’s and her husband’s death might never be known, but one thing that should be realized from this event is the amount of disrespect and abasement the American administration had and continues to have until this day to the lives of Iraqis.
Recently, a Huffington Post article briefly discussed the emigration of 15 Syrian artists to Dubai, along with more than 3,000 artifacts, paintings and sculptures. While these individuals are very fortunate to escape the ruins of war, I think about just how many more artworks will fail to survive as long as the current state of Syria continues.
If the pattern holds true– as witnessed in other Middle Eastern territories such as Egypt and Libya as of late, some of Syria’s art will be destroyed during fighting, stolen by opportunists or smuggled to buyers in other countries.
This reminds me of artist Michael Rakowitz, an American artist born to an Iraqi-Jewish mother, whom I saw speak last year in New York City. In 2011, Rakowitz teamed with Manhattan’s Park Avenue Autumn restaurant and helped serve one of the most politically charged meals: serving dinner on Saddam Hussein’s dinner plates, once used at his Al Salaam Presidential Palace in Baghdad.
Photo and caption from ArtAsiaPacific: “Venison topped with date and tahini sauce on a plate taken from Saddam Hussein’s private collection, which was served to guests at Park Avenue Autumn, New York, 2011. Photography by Christopher Kissock. Courtesy Creative Time, New York, and Lombard Freid Projects, New York.”
Rakowitz notes that he purchased these plates from Ebay, while two others involved in the project picked them up while in Iraq. Ironically, some of the plates from Saddam’s collection originally belonged to the last king of Iraq Faisal II, killed in the 1958 coup. According to ArtAsiaPacific:
Not without reason, many restaurant guests, despite ordering the entrée and loving the food, nevertheless remained upset by the thought of digesting its historical and cultural implications.
Eating the dish proved a complicated task even for the artist himself [Rakowitz], who told ArtAsiaPacific that he could not bring himself to eat directly from the plates. Putting the consumer in the position of the dictator, or one of his family or guests, was, as Rakowitz says, “the whole point of the project: it puts the diner into a situation where they are forced to take a position, both morally and ethically.”
War and intense conflict not only leave countries, cultures and individuals vulnerable, but art and other cultural, political or social remnants are always at risk of being destroyed or internationally displaced. Given that, some might be wondering where Bashir al-Assad’s plates will end up next.