Tuesday, August 12, 2008

8.8.8 event- xanadu*

xanadu* is no stranger to organizing music performances accompaning visual arts exhibitions. This time, however, it was the music that was given the spotlight during their most recent event, 8.8.8. Held Friday night the 8th of August the evening was a festival dedicated to Lebanese experimental music and visual arts. Co-organized by Ramzi Hibri and Zena el -Khalil, the evening brought together a long list of innovative and emerging experimental musicians, poets and artists giving performances "al fresco" in the warm Beirut summer night.The garden of an abandoned house near the Goethe Institute provided a unique performance space, where contemporary sounds harmonized with an illustrious past.

Included in the evening's program were performances by Tarek Atoui, Fadi Bitar, Critically Acclaimed Monkeys, Marc Ernst, The Incompetents, Lana Maclver, Walid Mohanna, The Troglodytes, Youmna Saba, and the Passive Standouts.

Readings wre done by Ritta Baddoura and Mazen Zahreddine,

and visuals by glitterpill, Rachel Tabet, Rami Sabbagh, and Samandal magazine artists.

xanadu* continues to organize events to promote emerging artists from all backgrounds so that they may continue to grow, evolve and experiment in order to continue perfecting their talents.

Les incompetents

Tarek Atoui

Rita Baddoura

Mazen Zahreddine

and a stop motion piece by William Choukeir, Elias Mbarak& Davic

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Nahed Awwad - Five Minutes from Home and Lions

Two Palestinian women were included in this year's edition of the Cannes Film Festival. Annemarie Jacir's film Salt of this Sea was selected for the Un Certain Regard category. The documentary film Five Minutes from Home (52 min.) by Nahed Awwad was included in the Pavillon les Cinemas du Sud.

The Jerusalem Airport lies at the side of the road that runs from Jerusalem to Ramallah. Occupied by the Israeli army since 1967, 5 km from Ramallah and 10 km from Jerusalem, The airport has been occupied by the Israeli Army since 1967. Nahed Awwad has seen one of the largest access checkpoints to the West Bank grow up at the eastern end of the dusty runway to become a large checkpoint for access into the West Bank.

However, she discovers that this has not always been the case and that this desolate setting, like many other international stopovers in the fifties and sixties, once knew the lavish and free life of travel. Merry images and bright accounts of the past contrast bitterly with those of the present in which the airfield is off limits, abandoned behind the barbed wire and, soon, behind the Israeli wall of separation.

"The airport's history is told through interviews with passersby at the Qalandiya checkpoint, from where the overgrown runway can be seen. Many of those questioned among the younger generation were unaware that the airport was visible.
"People remember people," Ms. Awwad said. "People's stories, their personalities and their habits are what sticks in the mind. And I realised from getting to know these characters that there was a whole history there that I, as part of the generation that has grown up under occupation, knew nothing about." (excerpt from an article by
Omar Karmai, the National)

Five Minutes from Home can be seen at the International Academy of Art Palestine from July 25th to August 5th.Curated by Reem Fadda (director of the Palestinian Association of Contemporary Art),

Here is a short documentary also by Ms. Awwad entitled Lions (10 min. 2002). The documentary is a collection of images of daily life as a survival mechanism - filmed in Ramallah during the invasion of Israeli troops in April of that year. They are images that Nahed Awwad saw, heard and experienced in her neighborhood.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Minute 22 ---- August 22nd

With 20 more days to go until Minute 22...

The concept is simple, on the 22nd of August document through photography what people are doing at a designated moment. Everyone with a camera(cell phone, compact, point & shoot,DSLR,etc.) in the Arab world is invited to participate by simply taking a picture at the exact same moment 2:22 pm Lebanon local time.

Why the number 22? Well, the number is symbolic because there are 22 countries in the League of Arab States. If you live in any of these 22 countries, you can be a part of this project at the following local times:

Egypt - 2:22pm
Iraq - 2:22pm
Jordan - 2:22pm
Lebanon - 2:22pm
Saudi Arabia - 2:22pm
Syria - 2:22pm
Yemen - 2:22pm
Libya - 1:22pm
Sudan - 2:22pm
Morocco - 12:22pm
Tunisia - 1:22pm
Kuwait - 2:22pm
Algeria - 12:22pm
UAE - 3:22pm
Bahrain - 2:22pm
Qatar - 2:22pm
Oman - 3:22pm
Mauritania - 11:22am
Somalia - 2:22pm
Palestine - 2:22pm
Djibouti - 2:22pm
Comoros - 2:22pm

The pictures will be published in a special edition of Sowar Magazine, a journalistic and documentary photography magazine based in Lebanon. The pictures will also be posted online.

For more information there is a facebook group called Minute 22... join and check it out!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Walid Siti "Land on Fire" @ Leighton House

Currently at the Leighton House is Land on Fire, an exhibition featuring two recent bodies of work Family Ties and Precious Stones by the Iraqi - Kurdish painter and printmaker Walid Siti. The exhibition is one of four in the 'Here We Are' series of exhibitions curated by Rose Issa, independent curator and specialist in visual arts from the Middle East and North Africa.

No.9 Precious Stones series, crayon & acrylic on paper, 1998

Based in Britain, Siti no longer resides Iraq. However, he remains emotionally tied to his native land. Duhok, where he spent his childhood, continues to be a source of inspiration. Notions such as the complexity of identity, the seemingly ceaseless wars in Iraq, ethnic cleansing, the cyclical nature of violence, and family are all re-occuring themes in his work.

There is a common cohesive compositional element, an encircled monolith form. The idea of center transforms into what Siti calls "visual poetry"...as the eye moves around the focal entry point, one is able to draw conclusions as to what they feel is at the heart of each piece.

The Precious Stones series (1996-2006) creates an organic symbolic landscape. The palette Siti uses, varying shades of blacks, whites and greys, all echo the natural material that he is paying homage to. There are strong spiritual undertones throughout the series. As movement is generated around the central form, images of Mecca during Hajj come to mind. Think of the awe inspiring sight of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims as they circumambulate the Kaaba en masse. Or a scientific model of the planets circling the sun.

The second series entitled Family Ties (1999-2008) is an exploration into the notion of belonging, within the family and community. to various groups, religious, social, tribal, and of course familial. Within these groups people gain feelings of attachment and belonging that can be at times comforting or nurturing but can also be suffocating.

Through the use of geometric forms such as cones, circles, lines, and spirals, Siti works with abstract symbolism. Simplistic and yet poignant, these sober spaces speak of the continuous nature of human existence. Birth leads to death. Construction leads to destruction which in turn leads to reconstruction. His work stress the concept of universality. In each of his pieces there is a constant circular force that perpetuates the cyclical nature of being.

First was the Stone, acrylic on canvas, 177 x 310 cm 2006

Land on Fire
on from the 16th of July to the 4th of August 2008 at the Leighton House, 12 Holland Park Road London W14 8LZ tel.020 7602 3316