Afghanistan, art of resistance

Afghan Star.

Afghan Star (2009) is a documentary (directed by Havana Marking) about the Afghan Star musical contest programme (modeled on the UK’s Pop Idol). It is a story about the power of music and the great risks Afghan people go through to appear on the show. The show is extremely popular although the government tried to ban it several times, and people are often “advised” by the radicals not to watch it or support it in any way.  In Afghanistan, singing represents much more – it is an expression of freedom, a brave one.

The documentary follows the 2008 contest when it’s down to nine contestants, and focuses on two women, Setara and Lema, and two men, Hameed and Rafi. The focus is on women in particular, Satara who sings with emotion and includes dance in her final performance, an action that puts her life in danger; Lema who is traditional, but her very appearance brings death threats.  Another important aspect is that the three finalists are from different tribes, and each makes a plea for Afghan unity. Through singing in the show they get to meet each other and stop looking at themselves as “others”, but appreciate every person as a human being, as an artist.

I highly recommend this documentary, and here are some of the snaphots I made, to get you to dig deeper.













 For more on the movie, go to IMDb.

For more on the Afghan Star programme (it is still on), visit their official website and check out the Season 9 TOP 3 Elimination (2014).

art of resistance, Israel, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Palestine

Beauty of Resistance: Surf Club, Gaza.

I’m all about the beauty of resistance, not just merely surviving through harsh conditions, but finding creative ways to give birth to life when you’re surrounded by (the constant glimpses of) death. That is why I love stories like Darfur Sartorialist, Syrian artists breaking world records in the midst of war, or parkour in Gaza.

It’s about finding freedom within you. It has to work within a limited physical area (like Gaza), yes, but it helps breaking the imposed restraints. Because – you choose to live and not be defeated and not be depressed. It gives you strength to go on in life and – fight back.

This is another story about the beauty of resistance.

Andrew McConnell is famous photographer whose work was featured in most of the world’s biggest publications, he has won two 1st place prizes at the World Press Photo Awards and many other awards. What I like about his work is the fact that he’s always driven by a desire to tell the stories that remain underreported in the international media. From Congo to Gana, from Syria to Gaza.

One of those stories is a story about the surf club in Gaza. Here are some of McConnell’s photos.

foto1Mohammed Abu Jayab gestures to his dughter as he walks from his home in Shati Refugee Camp, Gaza.

foto2Mohammed Abu Jayab teaches his son to surf at his home in Shati Refugee Camp.

foto316 years old Amer al Dous paddles out to sea from Gaza City.

foto4Ibrahim Alamassi breaks through the surf off Gaza City.

foto5Sabah Abo Ghanem, 11, and Kholoud Abo Ghanem, 10, look at the horizon off Gaza city. The girls are cousins and together with their two sisters they represent the only female surfers in Gaza, borrowing surfboards when they can.

foto6Gaza’s Mediterranean coastline, seen from Gaza City.

foto7As the last of the light fades, Mohammed Abu Jayab paddles through the surf  in the hope of the final waves, Gaza City.

foto8Ali Ayrhim walks along Sheik Khazdien beach with his sufrboard, Gaza City.

foto9Surfers melt candles onto their boards before going to surf off Gaza City. Surf materials like wax are impossible to find in Gaza.

/all photos © Andrew McConnell/

For more on McConnell and his work, visit his official website.

For more on the context of the recent events in Gaza, I recommend the latest piece by Rashid Khalidi for New Yorker.

To end this post:

We teach life, sir!

art of resistance, Iran

Rapture (Shirin Neshat).








 Shirin Neshat: Rapture

Rapture, one of Neshat’s early works, consists of two projections shown on opposing gallery walls. One projection shows a group of men dressed alike in Western-style white shirts and black pants. The other shows a group of women wearing traditional Iranian dress, including the chador,which covers their heads and most of their bodies, and in some cases, the niquab, a face covering. Despite these garments, the viewer is able to decipher individual features and expressions.

The installation, which is 13 minutes long and shown in continuous loops, shows elegiac and meditative scenes of the two groups. As the women traverse landscapes of sand and stone, the men navigate the stone architecture of an ancient city. As the women cry out—whether in celebration or anger, it’s unclear—the men unroll Persian prayer rugs and quarrel. In the final scene, the women gather on a beach, where they maneuver a small boat into the crashing waves. As their bare feet break the sand surface, the hems of their chadors become wet with salt water. Ultimately, six women remain in the boat as it drifts out to the sea.

Although art historians reference Neshat’s upbringing in Iran and her experiences in the United States as a way to shed light on her body of work, Neshat herself is neither dogmatic nor clear about her intentions. “From the beginning,” she said in a 1999 interview with art critic Arthur Danto, “I made a decision that this work was not going to be about me or my opinions on the subject, and that my position was going to be no position. I then put myself in a place of only asking questions but never answering them.”

Writing in The New Yorker about Neshat’s two-channel projections, Peter Schjeldahl wrote, “Neshat’s elegant, two-screen meditations on the culture of the chador in Islamic Iran emit an icy heat of suppressed passions; they are among the first undoubtable masterpieces of video installation.” 

For more, go to Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

art of resistance, Israel, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Palestine

Children of Gaza.

Anthony Dawton lives and breathes his photography. It’s his life, he says. Various NGOs use his skills of capturing the moment (UNICEF, Red Cross Lebanon, Save the Children, etc), and he always tries his best.

He has done some wonderful projects in the Middle East, and one of them is Children of Gaza. Children are the greatest victims in Gaza, not just those killed (and many of that 1000 + number in these last three weeks are indeed children) but those who have survived but lost their parents, lost their limbs, lost their homes, lost their schools, lost their hospitals, lost their playgrounds.

Children should never go through that. There is no excuse for that, and no comfort in ocassional brave reports from justice-biased journalists (although I applaud them for that), or in ocassional celebrities tweets, bravely tweeted and deleted (them I do not applaud that much), there is no comfort while the general silence drowns the screams. While there’s no real changes. As King of Crimson put it:

Knowledge is a deadly friend
If no one sets the rules
The fate of all mankind I see
Is in the hands of fools

Confusion will be my epitaph
As I crawl a cracked and broken path
If we make it we can all sit back and laugh,
But I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying,
Yes I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying

(These) children deserve better.

gaza_01Khan Yunis.

gaza_02Gaza City.

gaza_05Beit Lahya.

gaza_06An Nazlah.

gaza_07Beit Hannoun.

gaza_08Deir Al Balah.

gaza_10Government Girls’ School.

gaza_11Petrol is a rare commodity. Khan Yunis.

gaza_19Heba: she sells packets of tissues to car drivers in the middle of the main road in Gaza City. She spends her spare time at the Al Qattan Centre library.

 /all photos © Anthony Dawton/

For more on Dawton and his work, visit his official website.

art of resistance, Iraq

Iraq – Body Counting and Life Cartooning.

Today (27th of July) Iraq Body Count counts:

Saturday 26th of July: 48 killed

July casualties so far: 1, 285 civilians killed.

Documented civilian deaths from violence (since 2003): 126, 691 – 141, 611

Total violent deaths including combatants (since 2003): 193, 000

Bad days, bad months, bad years for Iraqi people. How to deal with it? Here’s one way.

Abdul Raheem Yassir (b. 1951, Qadisiyah, Iraq) is widely regarded as one of the best political cartoonists now working in Iraq, responding to the absurdity of his circumstances with ironic humour and poignancy. His style is smart in the way it suggests innocence, knowing in its directness. His work is politically charged and socially critical, and – very important – widely accessible.

Here are some of his great works.











abdul rahme


abdz16 abud7


 /all images © Abdul Raheem Yassir/


For more on Abdul Raheem Yassir and his work, visit his facebook page and Ruya Foundation.

//Iraq Body Count (IBC) records the violent civilian deaths that have resulted from the 2003 military intervention in Iraq. Its public database includes deaths caused by US-led coalition forces and paramilitary or criminal attacks by others. IBC’s documentary evidence is drawn from crosschecked media reports of violent events leading to the death of civilians, or of bodies being found, and is supplemented by the careful review and integration of hospital, morgue, NGO and official figures. If you can, help them by spreading the word about their important work and donating.//

art of resistance, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates

Beyond the architectural text (Middle East).

The Damascene House is beyond the architectural text

The design of our homes…

Is based on an emotional foundation

For every house leans … on the hip of another

And every balcony…

Extends its hand to antoher facing it.

Nizar Qabbani

Peter Gould is an Australian artist. In 2002, he began traveling around Middle East and was inspired by cities like Fes, Damascus, Istanbul and Mecca, with his work resulting in a great visual fusion of classical Islamic design elements with his vibrant, fresh graphic styles.

His photography is maybe best described by one of his curators:

Peter’s photography is as much about the spiritual as it is about the visual, offering no questions or answers but rather affording the viewer to simply being in that moment and that moment at first glance seems to curiously exist without time or consequence.”










043-AbuDhabiAbu Dhabi.



/all photos © Peter Gould/

For more on Gould and his work, visit his official website.

art of resistance, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Lebanon, Palestine

Beirut to Gaza.

This is Beirut (22nd of July), during a demonstration against the latest assault on Gaza. Names of Palestinians killed by Israel in the last two weeks were hung on huge banners in Raouché and protesters also threw flowers into the sea.

Newest data (24th of July): 736 Palestinians have been killed and over 4563 have been injured.





/all photos © Jamal Saidi / Reuters/

Guantanamo, Yemen

Waiting for Guantanamo (Yemen).

Alex Potter is a photographer from the Midwest living in the Middle East. She began her career in Minnesota, and is currently based in Yemen. After growing restless with her nursing job, she picked up to document post-revolution Yemen.

One of her projects, Waiting for Guantanamo, first caught my attention.

Artist statement:

On January 11, 2002, the first detainees were brought to Guantanamo Bay Prison. 

In eleven years since Guantanamo opened, the prison and detention camp has risen in infamy as a fighting point between politicians and an obvious human rights violation to the general public. Seven hundred and seventy-nine prisoners have passed through its doors in Guantanamo’s eleven year history; 572 have thus far been released.

However, out of all the prisoners released, the most overlooked have been the Yemenis. Of the 164 men remaining in Guantanamo, 88 are Yemenis. Thirty-six have been cleared for release by President Obamas Guantanamo Task Force and many by the Bush administration as far back as 2004. Dozens more are waiting in “conditional detention” limbo.
Though closure of the prison may be on the horizon, no one is looking forward to it more than the families of the Yemenis themselves. Mothers and fathers have little to no communications with their sons, who have transformed from teenagers to men who could have families of their own. 

Besides the occasional monitored phone call or edited letter, most families have no communication with their sons, much less authorities, the government, or an advocate.
While Washington drags it’s feet, families are waiting. Not to see a smaller number on the list of Guantanamo prisoners, but to see their sons to return home once again. These are their stories.

11Auwda, daughter of Abdurahman al Shubati. Only twelve years old and born during his detention in Guantanamo, her name in Arabic means “come back.” Sana’a, Yemen

12A Guantanamo-issued photo of Suleiman Othman Bin Al Nahdi, held in the hands of his sister. Mukalla, Yemen

14Salem Said al Asani, father of Fahmi Salem Said Al Asani. Fahmi Salem Said Al Asani has been held in Guantanamo since 2002 without a trial. He has been cleared for release by former President Bush in 2006 and 2007, as well as President Obama’s Guantanamo Task Force in 2009. Fahmi had his Habeus Corpus petition denied in 2010. Mukalla, Yemen

15A letter from Fahmi Salem Said al Asani to his family. The letter was sent from Guantanamo on 9 August, 2011, and brought to the family by the ICRC. The letter reads ” In the name of God, the most compassionate, the most merciful. To my father, my mother, and my loved ones. Peace be upon you, and God’s mercy and blessings. Blessed Ramadan and happy Eid. Best wishes for each new year. May God accept from me and you our prayer and work. From you son who misses his mother. Mukalla, Yemen

16Father of Samir Naji Hassan Muqbil. Samir has been held in Guantanamo since 2002 without a trial. He is still held in conditional detention, meaning he is cleared for release as long as the situation in Yemen is considered stable. Taiz, Yemen

18A photo of Samir Naji Hassan Muqbil before his detention in Guantanamo, held in the hands of his mother. Taiz, Yemen


/all photos © Alex Potter/

For more on Potter and her work, visit her official website.


Menya’s Kids (Child Labor, Egypt).

Myriam Abdelaziz is a French photographer of Egyptian origins,  born in Cairo. Her work tells stories of its participants. Her inquiry into the stories of people takes her around the globe searching for narratives that overcome physical and cultural barriers and often reveal what we have in common: glimpses of solitude, hope, insecurity, dignity. She is the member of the only all female photo collective of the Middle East – Rawiya.

Her project Menya’s Kids deals with child labor in the quarries of Menya, Egypt.







/all photos © Myriam Abdelaziz/

For more on Abdelaziz and her work, visit her facebook page, and see her profile on Rawiya.

art of resistance, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Palestine

Make a wish – Gaza.

Loulou d’Aki is a Swedish photographer. She is currently based in the Middle East, and is passionate about youth – the age of infinite possibilities.

Her project Make a wish  is an investigation about the dreams and visions of a selection of 21st century youngsters. The project took place in Istanbul, Gaza, Cairo, Sana’a, Tehran, Jerusalem and Naples.

Make a wish – Gaza was shot the days before, during and after Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012. Here are some of the photos – stories.



Amaha El-Naga, 16 lives with her 7 family members in Khan Yonis buffer zone. The day after Operation Pillar of Defense truce people stroll up unto the border for the first time.


19-year old Abdallah Al-Rhaman works with his brother Ahmed; together they make a living by performing with horses in weddings and ceremonies, just like their father used to do. 


 Mahmoud Sarsour, 23 from Tal El-Hawa after Friday prayers. He studies Civil Engineering at the Islamic Universtiy and believes that this is the best time to reach a united Palestinian leadership in order to change the situation.



Alah Ahmed Daama attends The Right to Live Society; a special school for Gazans with downs syndrome, established in 1993.



Jasmine Nebieh, 24 used to teach Yoga in the stadium before it was destroyed in an Israeli air strike during Operation Pillar of Defense. She studies Sport Psychology and would like to work with children in Spain.



21-year old Maraam Homed is very active on Twitter; she sees it as a way to communicate to the world what is going on in the Gaza strip. She is the only Gazan to Tweet in french and was recently invited to Paris on a conference trip.



Ahmed Zayed, an 18-year old fisherman in the rubbles of what used to be his home in Salateeh area, until it was destroyed in an Israeli air strike a few hours before the truce between Israel and Hamas after the 8-day Operation Pillar of Defense.

/all images © Loulou d’Aki/

For more on d’Aki and her projects, visit her official website.