Thursday, July 31, 2008

Heavy Metal Islam and

Put down the Metallica and the AC/DC. Its time to listen to the Kordz, Oath to Vanquish, Massive Scar Era.

The book Heavy Metal Islam:Rock, Resitance and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam by Mark LeVine highlights the alternative music scenes active in Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Iran and Pakistan. In the Introduction LeVine takes the reader back to the first time he encountered the possibility of Metal in the MENA region. How could Muslims listen to music that is so... western? Then again why not? Most of the countries he visits in the book have all been under foreign rule at some point in the last 50 years, there is diversity in all forms; religious, political, sexual, and social. There is strong angst within the youth movement and thus a growing alternative music scene. These are young people looking for a way to express themselves and music provides that outlet.
LeVine mentions other genres that are also going strong in the region such as punk and hard rock. But Rap and Hip Hop are stronger than ever. MTV Arabia has a show dedicated to the genre called "Hip HopNa" or "Our Hiphop". All in all its a good introduction to the alternative musical trends in the MENA region.

Keeping it on the music side things, the new website for the production and distribution company Incognito, a sister company of La CD-Theque, based in Beirut has officially launched its website. More importantly the shopping cart is now working which means that all the great music available that is coming out of Lebanon just got even easier to access.

Although Mr. LeVine mentions many of the bands that have a working relationship with La CD -Theque (Blend, Soapkills, Scrambled Eggs, The New Government, and Nadine Khoury)he unfortunately failed to mention La CD-Theque and what a valuable institution it has been. Not only are the staff wonderfully music savy (they can't be beat), they continue to bring great music and dvds into the store come what may. More importantly La CD-Theque provides the resources many of the emerging bands on the Lebanese alternative scene have used as a starting point for their musical careers. So click on the link... visit Incognito, listen to the bands, and support alternative music in the Middle East!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

some video... A1one Two Dayz in Tehran

To continue a posting from a few days ago about the group graffiti exhibition Visual Slang 2008 in the LES which includes A1one here is a clip of the artist in action. Two Dayz in Tehran wanders through the streets of Tehran to see some of A1one's street art.

A video tour of the first street art exhibition in Tehran in 2007.

New Ends, Old Beginnings - Open Eye Gallery and the Bluecoat Liverpool

Randa Mirza, Untitled from Parallel Universes series, (2006-08) above

Can Altay, Mirrorworld, c-print (2008) below

To describe the state of the major metropolis in the Arab region today only brings forth uncertainty. While some cities are struggling to preserve their ancestral heritage from destruction, investors have a desire to erase the old to usher in the future, other cities are an architects delight with virgin spaces and clients with seemingly endless budgets. Is there room room for diversity? Or will the individuality give way to a new urban hegemony?
The exhibition New Ends Old Beginnings looks at daily life in these cities as the vestiges of the past confront the 21st century. Through each of the works included, the exhibition raises questions concerning heritage and preservation through the artist's perspective. Tradition mixes with experimentation, fact blurs into fiction.

Can Altay's piece Mirrorworld, c-print (2008) looks at an alternative side to daily life for the construction workers in Dubai. Lara Baladi's Surface of Time (2004-07) is a collection of images that the underscores the visual poetics of time and memory. Traditional cuisine is the subject of Ziad Antar's Mdardara, super 8 film, 3min. 2006. The piece is in between video art and a "how to" style film that explores issues concerning daily life, tradition and the domestic sphere through the preparation of a home cooked rice and lentil based Lebanese dish. Randa Mirza's series Parallel Universes (2006-2008) explores the media portrayal of violence in the media. As images of death and suffering are shown in international news sources, the spectator passively observes and in effect becomes a "war tourist".

Other artists included in the show are Cevdet Erek, Tarek Al Ghoussein, Michael Rakowitz, Hrair Sarkissian, Sharif Waked, and Tarek Zaki.

Ziad Antar, still from Mdardara,super 8mm,2006

New Ends, Old Beginnings is curated by November Paynter and is currently at Open Eye Gallery and The Bluecoat in Liverpool opening the 12th of July until the 3rd of September.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Youssef Chahine - one of Cinema's legends passes

On Sunday Egyptian Cinema's most beloved directors passed away Sunday July 27th in Cairo at the age of 82 after a month long coma resulting from a brain hemorrage.

Youssef Chahine's career spanned close to 6 decades during which he directed over 40 feature length films. He was lauded for his talents as director, writer, producer, and actor. His 1954 romantic drama Sira' fi al Wadi (The Blazing Sun) launched the career of actor Omar Sharif. He worked with legendary singers including Dalida and Fairouz. He will be missed not only in his native Egypt, the Arab world but internationally as well. As Khaled Youssef noted "Youssef Chahine brought Egyptian cinema to the world stage." A true master of his craft Chahine was the 3rd recipient of a lifetime achievement award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997.

He began his career with the film Baba Amin (Daddy Amin) 1950 after he returned to Egypt from a few years in America studied acting at the Pasadena Institute. 1958 saw Chahine finally come into his own with Bab al-Hadid (Cairo Station). His first overtly political film was an anti-colonial story Jamila Al-Jaza'iriyya( Jamila the Algerian) 1958. In 1963 he completed El Nasser Salah Eddine(Saladin) his widescreen color epic loosely based on the Muslim hero who defeated the Crusaders. His 1969 film Al-Ard (the Earth) based on a novel by Adel Rahman al- Sharqawi is an epic tale of peasants in Nile Delta. The film took 8 years to complete and is considered his chef d'oeuvre. After the six-day war in 1967 that Chahine's work became more and more political. His Al Mohaguer (The Emigrant) 1994 was the cause of a scandal again. Chahine was accused in the fundamentalist view of representing a prophet, in this case the retelling of the story of Joseph, which is forbidden in the Qur'an. A lawsuit was filed which Chahine eventually won. In 2002, a year after the Twin Towers collapsed in New York, he contributed an 11 minute short for the film 11"09'01 which was criticised in the US for being"anti- american."

Chahine was raised in Alexandria, the setting for the films in the autobiographical trilogy: Iskandeiria..Leh? (Alexandria Why?)1978, Hadduta Misriyya (An Egyptian Story) 1982 and Iskindiria Kamen wa Kamen (Alexandria Again and Again)1990. The trilogy portrays his early childhood, his love of Hollywood, and his ambiguous feelings for America. Iskandeiria..Leh? (Alexandria Why?) was recompensed with a Special Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival that year.

The cinematic career of Youssef Chahine was prolific and his achievements are undeniable. Through his creativity and his ability to respond to the times in which he lived, Youssef Chahine made a significant impact on the history of cinema. He will be missed.

Trailer for the film Heya Fawda (This is Chaos) 2007 , his last film co - directed with Khaled Youssef. The film is a critique on the Egyptian government's crackdown on democracy activists.

Clip from El Maseer (Destiny) (1997) is a cinematic response to censorship and religious fanaticism.

Annemarie Jacir - Salt of This Sea

This week the full length feature film Salt of This Sea (Milh Hadha al-Bahr) written and directed by Annemarie Jacir is being screened in Australia at the Melbourne Film Festival on Wednesday the 30th of July and Sunday the 3rd of August.

In early spring, the film was selected for the Un Certain Regard category at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival amid controversy. On her way from Jordan to the West Bank for the World Premiere of her film for the cast and crew set to be held at the Amari Refugee Camp in Ramallah, Ms. Jacir was questioned for several hours only to be denied entry and escorted to a bus back to Jordan. The film is set to Premiere at Amari Refugee Camp August 21st, however the director is still refused entry to Palestine by the Israeli Ministry of Interior.

Soraya(Suheir Hammad), born in Brooklyn in a working class community of Palestinian refugees, discovers that her grandfather’s savings were frozen in a bank account in Jaffa when he was exiled in 1948. Stubborn, passionate and determined to reclaim what is hers, she fulfills her life-long dream of “returning” to Palestine. Slowly she is taken apart by the reality around her and, as she is forced to confront her own anger, she realizes the walls in Palestine are not always seen. She meets Emad(Saleh Bakri), a young Palestinian whose ambition, contrary to hers, is to leave forever. Tired of the constraints that dictate their lives, they know in order to be free, they must take things into their own hands, even if it’s illegal.
The film also stars Riyad Ideis as Marwan.

Until the film is released in theaters, for now here is the film trailer...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Some pictures ... for a Monday morning (Beirut)

Continuing with the theme of street art.. here are a few images taken from the streets of Beirut.

Here is a wall near Monot and USJ done a few years ago.The text is in Arabic which translates to "Beirut never dies". It was done a few years ago one a night when Beirut was under seige...

or another artist... arofish.. and his stenciled kite flier in the suburbs Dahiyeh
or his trash tv stencil...

or an homage to the men that clean up the city streets of Beirut.. the stenciled sukleen man

or 3dom and their stenciled people pulling the plug out of the wall... encouraging people at home to turn off the media outlets.. and find other more pleasant activites

or 3dom's three people breaking through the metal bars that sectioned off areas of the city...

The 961 Underground also is represented with a mural..

If these images are an indication of what the street art community is doing in Beirut then it looks all good..we can only hope that everyone keeps on keeping on.

Friday, July 25, 2008

THIRD Video Festival: Deadline 15 September 2008

The Contemporary Image Collective (CiC) in Cairo and Medrar for Contemporary Art are sending out an open Call for Submission to the THIRD Video Festival hosted at CiC in 2008.

Initiated by the Cairo-based artist initiative Medrar for Contemporary Art in 2005, this festival continues its focus on providing a platform for sharing and discussing newly produced high concept / low budget experimental videos. Based on a call for works by emerging artists, the festival program takes the format of a concise series of video screening on the rooftop of CiC accompanied by talks/discussions with active video-makers and curators to tackle some of key themes and issues presented in the works. With this festival, the organizers seek to trigger a dialogue about the possibilities and limitations of this particular use of the medium of video today.

Individuals, groups or associations are allowed to participate.
Participation with more than one video is allowed.
Documentary, feature or commercial videos will be excluded.
Videos should be produced during 2006 and 2008, and not more than 30 min.
Screenings should not have any specific recommendations.

The organizing crew has the right to use the participant's data within all promotional means and publications, with reserved copyrights.
Videos sent will be kept in the archive of the association.

To participate:
Please submit a completed application form and your video (DVD-PAL or NTSC format) in a sealed envelope to:

THIRD Video Festival
Contemporary Image Collective
20 Safeya Zaghloul Street, Mounira, Cairo, Egypt

Deadline for receiving material:
15th of September 2008 at 12:00 pm
Participants will be informed of the final selection by the 29th of September, 2008

To download an application form please go to:
For more information, please

A1one in the LES

A1one @ Abrons Arts Center

Visual Slang 2008: The Modern Imagination from Tehran to Tel Aviv is a group exhibition highlighting street art from some of the world's largest urban centers notably Tehran with the artist A1one and Tel Aviv with Ame 72, Know Hope, Klone, 0 cents and Smiling Bag Productions. Other artists include:C215,Cekis,Lorenzo Gomez, Adi Mahalu,Noa Mahalu,Mateo, Kenji Nakayama, Onesto, Johan Potma, Julio Rolle, and Stinkfish. From NYC there are Cern, Cope2,Chris Cortes, Indie184,Meres, Spaze Crafte One and Zito.

A1one is considered one of the Islamic World's leading graffiti artists currently working in Tehran. Included in the LES exhibition are 8 of his original pieces that push people to think, react and question. Iconic images from the Golden Arches logo to the infamous cloaked Iraqi prisoner from Abu Ghraib, a sort of macabre logo for the US led war in Iraq are stenciled on arabesque patterns. In many of his pieces Farsi and Iranian typography are incorporated. His pieces are eye-catching both for the choice of subject matter and the vibrant colors he uses.

An interview with A1one can be read at Rebel Without a Crew: Street Artist A1one in Tehran by Hrag Vartanian for the Zine at

While the exhibition is a unique opportunity to see A1one's pieces for the first in the US, it would have been great to include other artists working in cities in the Middle East such as Arofish , 3dom or the REK Crew in Beirut.

The exhibition is curated by Lois Stavsky and is at the Henry Street Settlement/Abrons Arts Center from the 17th of July to the 31st of August.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wael Noureddine's Latest Project

Art and Blow is looking forward to the planned October 2008 release of Wael Noureddine's latest project A Film Far Beyond a God. This is an experimental documentary shot in Yemen last year and will be made available at Lowave.

In the mean time check out:

July Trip (2006)
Wael Noureddine: "When this last war broke out, I was faraway in my house in Paris. I had but one idea: to return to Beirut as quickly as possible and to begin shooting a film, for historical moments were taking place. This film became indispensible: to film so that history would cease repeating itself and to build up a picture library for future generations. I never understood why so few films were made during the Lebanese Civil War. Apart from the odd film, nothing remains from that time. The war surely merited more attention".

Ca sera beau (from Beyrouth with Love)
Wael Noureddine: “Beirut, or any city at war with itself. Here, no conflict is ever resolved, no wall is repaired. Detonations have a better echo in a city riddled with holes. One can choose between the army and religion, or, instead, between religion and the army. A dose of heroin costs five dollars. I visit a few of my acquaintances and send back some postcards.”

Tagreed Darghouth @ Agial Art Gallery

Mirror, Mirror..., Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 25 cm (each), 2008@ Agial Art Gallery

Currently at Agial Art Gallery in Beirut is a solo exhibition of recent work from Tagreed Darghouth entitled "Mirror, Mirror..." on view until the 31th of July 2008.

The current work by Tagreed Darghouth explores notions of feminine form, age and aesthetic manipulation through plastic surgery. These portraits question refashioning the body to better assimilate to contemporary social ideals of what beauty is thought to be. Each woman is captured at a moment of suspense, the healing stage, a period of the unknown. Bandages conceal the area that has been reshaped and redefined leaving a sense of wonder and mystery between the image and the viewer. How did the surgery turn out? Will each one be content with the face reflected back at them?

In contrast to the "Carnal Art" of French performance artist Orlan and her unique self portraiture realized with the help of technology, the paintings of Ms. Darghouth however are a series of intimate studies of women questioning the self, and their outward physical appearances.

Mariam, acrylic on canvas, 100 x 150 cm, 2008 @ Agial Art Gallery

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

7th Edition of the Lebanese Film Festival Deadline Today!!!

Sorry about this last minute posting but ... Im going to post it anyway!
I'm excited to see this year's festival. Save the date August 21st -26th 2008