art of resistance, Israeli - Palestinian conflict

The Shadow of the West by Edward Said.

This month (25th of September) marked twelve years since Edward Said died. Middle East Revised will continue publishing excerpts from Said’s books, interviews and films about Said and his work, as a way of paying tribute to him.

After publishing an excerpt from the book Culture and Resistance, Conversations with Edward Said, (Interviews by David Barsamian)here is a link to The Shadow of the West, written by Said, and directed by Geoff Dunlop.

Advertisements
Standard
art of resistance

Middle East Revised: Top 5 Interviews of 2014.

I did a lot of work on my blog in 2014, and I am really happy and excited about writing even more and making it better with time. I hope I will find time and manage to do that. So, 2015 has just arrived and to commemorate last year in a small, symbolic way, I decided to post Top 5 Interviews I did last year, published here, on Middle East Revised. Why interviews? Because I really enjoy doing them, and I always try to prepare myself and get to really know the people I am interviewing (and their work, of course), in hope of providing a good and fresh dialogue, something new – food for thought, a spark of enlightenment! So – here is the list, enjoy reading!

Matthew Hoh: Veterans, America’s Wars & A Long Way To Go.

Jonathan-Landay-Matthew-Hoh-5479cc/Matthew Hoh, photo: Dale Robbins/Moyers & Company/

Matthew Hoh is a former State Department official who resigned from his post in Afghanistan in 2009. He did so in protest over US strategic policy and goals in Afghanistan. Prior to his assignment in Afghanistan, Hoh served in Iraq; first in 2004 and 2005 in Salah ad Din Province with a State Department reconstruction and governance team and then in 2006 and 2007 in Anbar Province as a Marine Corps company commander. He often writes about the torments he went through during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and particularly – about the despair he faced upon his return to USA, facing an everyday life as a veteran. I think his voice is truly important in times when, as Ingeborg Bachmann wrote:  “War is no longer declared, only continued. The monstrous has become everyday.” Read more.

DAM (Palestine): When The Levee Breaks.

DAM-slider/photo via DAM/

This is an interview I did  with DAM’s Suhell Nafar, and it was published on Reorient Magazine. Heralded by Le Monde as ‘the spokesmen of a new generation’, the members of DAM – the first [known] Palestinian hip-hop crew and among the first musicians to rap in Arabic – began working together in the late 90s. Struck by the uncanny resemblance of the streets in a Tupac video to those of their own neighbourhood in Lod, brothers Tamer and Suhell Nafar, along with Mahmoud Jreri were inspired to tell their stories through song. They’ve come a long way since the 90s, and part of their tale has been documented in the acclaimed film, Slingshot Hip Hop, directed by Jackie Reem Salloum. As well, a year ago, they released the long-awaited album, Dabke on the Moon, to popular acclaim. Read more.

Tamara Abdul Hadi: A Different Middle East.

zamisli-arapskog-muc5a1karca-tamara-abdul-hadi/Picture an Arab Man by Tamara Abdul Hadi/

Tamara Abdul Hadi is an Iraqi – Canadian photojournalist. Her projects are strong and on point,  dealing with social injustice and deconstructing stereotypes. Through her work one can be constantly reminded how nothing is black and white, nothing is sealed in time and space – there’s a  lot of grey areas, but also a lot of colour to our world, and everything around us is fluid, ever changing. It is important to be reminded of that, especially when talking about the Middle East, the area often approached by oversimplification, constantly reduced to one (dark) image. Read more.

Tamara Erde: On History, Memory & Living Near The Livings.

Capture/Tamara Erde in Cell in a Human Scale/

Tamara Erde is a French-Israeli filmmaker who creates in various mediums, from documentary and fiction films, to performances and video installations. Erde is a brave artistic soul, often taking from her most personal places and transforming it into her art. In her work, she often deals with political and social issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is what hits home. Read more.

✩ From The Sky: The Story Of Drones & Resistance.

from the sky photo/image via From The Sky facebook page/

From The Sky (2014) is a short film about a humble father (Hakeem) and his son (Abbas) who live in a region frequently targeted by drone strikes.  Drawing inspiration from the films of Werner Herzog and Peter Weir, the film tells a minimalist story in an atmosphere that balances eerie tension with ethereal cues. While the story is minimalistic, the questions it opens are of great dimensions, not just concerning the issues of US drone policy, but of an eternal dillema of resistance and what it can turn (a person) into.  The director of the film is Ian Ebright (the film is also written by Ebright) and I’ve been lucky enough to ask him some questions about the film and the idea behind it. Read more.

• • •

P.S. Happy New Year & All The Best to All of You!

Standard
art of resistance, Iran

Newsha Tavakolian returning Carmignac Gestion Award: “My integrity cannot be bought”.

Newsha Tavakolian, great Iranian photographer who covered many conflicts in Iran, but also a war in Iraq, natural disasters and social issues all over the Middle East, found herself in the midst of a different turmoil last couple of months. She has returned a 50,000 Euro award from a French foundation she says persistently altered her work to reflect a completely negative and stereotypical assessment of Iran and refused to stop when askedHere is Tavakolian’s full statement, published on her facebook page.
021
 Newsha Tavakolian, Look, 2013.
In recent months I have been named as the winner of the 2014 Carmignac Gestion photojournalism Award, a 50.000 Euro grant for a photographic project about Iran. My winning this award has been announced twice, in the Financial Times, in two full-page advertisements, I began working on this project in December 2013, completing and delivering the work to the Foundation in July 2014 as scheduled. The news of my winning the grant was announced subsequent to the delivery of the project at a reception during the Arles festival this past summer. Naturally I was extremely happy.Today I am announcing that due to irreconcilable differences over the presentation of my work, I am returning the cash award and stepping down as the winner of the Carmignac Gestion Award for photojournalism 2014, canceling all my cooperation with this foundation and its patron, the French investment banker Edouard Carmignac.  My acceptance of the terms of the award from the Carmignac Gestion Foundation was based on the understanding that I would have full artistic freedom as a photographer to create a work that is faithful to my vision as an established photojournalist and art photographer. Unfortunately, however, from the moment I delivered the work, Mr. Carmignac insisted on personally editing my photographs as well as altering the accompanying texts to the photographs. Mr Carmignac’s interference in the project culminated in choosing an entirely unacceptable title for my work that would undermine my project irredeemably .Mr Carmignac’s insistence on changing essential aspects of my work would have resulted in completely changing the nature of my project from a subtle attempt to bring across the realities of life of my generation in Iran to a coarse and horrible clichéd view about Iran. His insistence on changing the name of the project from”Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album” to the overused and loaded title, “The Lost Generation” was simply not acceptable to me. Over the past months I have been engaged in a number of discussions with him directly, about the nature of this grant. I tried to convince him that as the creator of this project, I am entitled to my artistic freedom. Whilst I absolutely welcome other points of view, I cannot accept that anyone other than myself should have the final say about my work. But at no point would he accept this as my right. Recently I sent him a private email, in a last-ditch attempt to explain another reason why he should let me have control over my work. I explained that living in Iran as I do and where photographers can be arrested for what the government may deem offensive, he should refrain from changing the title of my work, making it unnecessarily controversial.
073a8c3c82
Girls smoking, Newsha Tavakolian
During my 15 year career I have taken many risks as a photographer, covering protests, wars and other events, but those risks have always been based on my own judgment and decision. In reply to my email, Mr Carmignac and his foundation have chosen to maliciously interpret my attempt to dissuade them from changing the name of my project to a title that I deem unsuitable to the spirit of my work, by declaring that I have pulled out of the award because of pressure by the Iranian Government in the following statement:

“Newsha Tavakolian, the 33 year old Laureate of the 5th edition of the Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award has pictured the Lost Generation in Iran during a 5 month work. Once the award has been announced, the Government has put the Laureate and her family under severe pressure. In order to protect Newsha Tavakolian and her family, the Carmignac Foundation has decided to adjourn the exhibition, initially planned for November in Paris and thereafter in Italy, Germany and the UK.”

As far as I can see, this statement is a natural continuation of the persistent attitude I have encountered at the Carmignac Foundation, namely to err on the side of controversy. All presumptions in this statement are absolutely false, and laughable. I am not in any way under threat at least no more than other journalists who are in Iran. I believe the real reason for the cancellation of my project is the simple fact that Mr. Carmignac did not get what he wanted, namely, full control over my work according to his own established idea of how Iran should be represented.
The statement above is a desperate effort to try to force me into accepting his version of my project, by hoping that I would fear the Iranian authorities more than I would fear him. It is tantamount to a threat. All my life I have faced censorship and pressures from the mighty and powerful here in Iran. The Carmigniac Award , to use the Foundation’s own description of the prize, is supposed to be “committed to champion the personal and, by definition, minority view”. In my case at least, this has turned into a laughable opposite. As a response to my refusal to have my work editorialized, Mr Carmignac has now “adjourned” the exhibitions I was promised under contract and has indefinitely postponed the publication of a book which was ready to go to print.
77b51b2975Taxi driver (A taxi driver in his car on a rainy day. Behind him a poster of an upcoming performance of Samuel Beckett’s play ‘Waiting for Godot’), Newsha Tavakolian

As a professional, I honoured my part in conceiving, realizing and delivering the work that I had promised to produce. Mr Carmiggnac and by extension the Carmignac Gestion Foundation have failed to fulfill their part of our collaboration. I am disgusted by Mr Carmignac’s behaviour, and highly disappointed over his lack of professional integrity as a self styled patron of independent photojournalism, a profession that according to his Foundations’s mission statement is undervalued and fraught with danger. To encounter unscrupulous behavior from mighty patrons was the last thing I expected when I joyously accepted this award.
I am now left with little choice but to pull out of this award because of the insistence of the Carmignac Gestion Foundation to compromise my artistic integrity and independence. I hereby return and officially step down as the 2014 laureate of the Carmignac Gestion Award for photojournalism. My artistic freedom and my integrity cannot be bought.”
 For more on Newsha Tavakolian and her photography, visit her official website.
Standard
art of resistance, Egypt

Picture Egypt.

Picture Masr (Egypt) is a tumblr page run by Mohamed Elshahed. He wishes to present “Egypt (mostly Cairo) beyond your Google image search results. The beauty of everyday life and all that is ordinary.” No pyramids, no camels, and no sphinx here.

tumblr_mz72jzBU241ra19oeo1_1280

tumblr_m6ejm6Go871ra19oeo1_1280

tumblr_m6msttM7xB1ra19oeo1_1280

tumblr_mz5k3gcjNA1ra19oeo1_1280

tumblr_mujz6aMajP1ra19oeo1_1280

tumblr_mzb0o342AX1ra19oeo1_1280

tumblr_mpkt3s1JBY1ra19oeo1_1280

/all photos © Mohamed Elshahed/

Elshahed also runs Cairobserver. For more on him and his projects, read an interview on Mashallah News. For more on Picture Masr, got to tumblr.

Standard
art of resistance, Iraq, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Lebanon, Palestine, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates

(Interview) Tamara Abdul Hadi: A different Middle East.

Tamara Abdul Hadi is an Iraqi-Canadian photojournalist whose work I’ve been following for a while now. Her projects are strong and on point,  dealing with social injustice and deconstructing stereotypes. Through her work one can be constantly reminded how nothing is black and white, nothing is sealed in time and space – there’s a  lot of grey areas, but also a lot of colour to our world, and everything around us is fluid, ever changing. It is important to be reminded of that, especially when talking about the Middle East, the area often approached by oversimplification, constantly reduced to one (dark) image. It is like Suheir Hammad wrote in First writing since – „one more person assume they know me/ or that i represent a people/ or that a people represent an evil/ or that evil is as simple as a flag and words on a page/“.

It is never that simple. Here is the full interview I did with Tamara, discussing her project Picture an Arab man, self portrait workshops in Palestine, and first all female photo collective of the Middle East – Rawiya.

First of all – could you tell me – why photojournalism? When you finished your education, what was the motivation to pursue that as a career? Did you always know that is what you want to do?

I ended up pursuing photography shortly after getting my Bachelor of Fine Arts. I was specialized in graphic design at the time, but I was drawn to photography after I moved to Dubai and became fascinated by the city and its huge population of migrant workers. I started photographing them, wanting to share their stories, and thats pretty much where it started. At that point I started working at Reuters as a photographer and photo editor and then went on photographing news and features for the New York Times around the Middle East. Around that time, I started working on my own personal projects.

Zamisli arapskog muškarca, Tamara Abdul HadiPicture an Arab man, Tamara Abdul Hadi

 Another question would be – why Middle East?

That’s easy. It’s my home. Where I was born and where my family history lies.

 You are a founding member of Rawiya, first all female photo collective of the Middle East. How did that happen and what were the reactions of the public so far?

Me and the other Rawiyas had crossed paths in Beirut and decided to join forces and create a photo collective, believing that there is power in numbers and hoping to present an insiders view of our region. The reaction has been great so far, we especially appreciate receiving emails from young photographers in the region and plan to give workshops in the near future. Rawiya has so far exhibited in Europe, the US, Beirut, Lebanon, Kuwait and the UAE.

You’ve taught a one year intensive photography program for young Palestinian women with the UNRWA, at a vocational women’s college in Palestine. The aim of the project was not only to teach the women the skills of photography and editing, but also to empower them to do more. Can you tell me something about that experience?

It was a very important experience for me. The project’s aim was to encourage these young women to share the world around them, and tell stories visually. Many of these women came from conservative backgrounds so it was great to challenge them to go out and shoot pictures. I’m a big believer that photography, as with other arts and media, can be successfully utilized in engaging our youth and getting their voices heard.

zamisli arapskog muškarca , Tamara Abdul HadiPicture an Arab man, Tamara Abdul Hadi

 In your personal projects you set out to trigger social change and challenge stereotypes the Arab world faces. Can you tell me, in your opinion, what are the biggest stereotypes when it comes to Arabs and the outsiders perception of them?

There are so many misconceptions. All Arabs are Muslims. All women are oppressed. All men are the hyper masculine oppressors. There’s a side to the Arab world that gets SO much press, and that is what sticks in peoples heads. But there are people who want to know more and seek it out. If you look deeper, you will discover a region rich with diversity and culture.

 Your project, Picture an Arab Man, brings the viewer into a different relationship with stereotypes about Arab men – can you describe what were your main intentions with that project, and do you think you managed to carry them out?

My intention with Picture an Arab Man was to present the Arab Man in a more human way. When I started the project in 2008, I was sick of the generally misrepresentative portrayal of the Arab man, and wanted to bring about an alternative visual representation the contemporary Arab man.

 Do you believe that the project succeeded in encouraging Arab men to reflect on their own identity?

I hope so. I mean, with this project I presented a view, my view, of the Arab man. The father, brother, son, uncle, husband, friend. My father loves the project, so for me that is a success in and of itself.

Did your perception of Arab men change during the realization of that project and in which ways? 

I was moved by with their willingness to talk about their identities and masculinity, and of course their openness to be a part of this series. Every man that I photographed for the project believed in its message, and that, in essence, made the project worthwhile.

12Picture an Arab man, Tamara Abdul Hadi

 You also did a great project – Self portraits from inside Palestine. Journalists often deal with issues of presentation and representation, and people we see in the news almost never get a chance to choose how will they be seen, what moment will they be captured in, etc. Tell me something about the project and how you chose to approach these issues.

This specific project took place at Amari refugee camp in Ramallah, which people have called their home for decades. The residents of Amari and many other refugee camps are tirelessly photographed by outsiders. I thought, lets put the control in their hands. I wanted them to capture their own self portraits, and decide when to press button/shutter. It was an interactive exercise that promoted self expression, and really, community engagement. I usually focus this project on marginalized or underrepresented communities. I’ve since self portrait workshops with Syrian refugees in Amman, migrant workers in Dubai and youth in Kasserine, Tunisia.

A lot of your work is connected to Palestine and its people. Unfortunately, we’ve all seen and continue to see the new-old turmoil in Gaza. There is this perception these are the great escalations, and people seem to forget occupation itself is an escalation. What are your thoughts these days, when seeing the news, hearing the stories?

Palestinians are a resilient and beautiful people. There have been a lot of young photographers photographing the war and its aftermath in Gaza- and it is important to see it from a locals perspective.

Autoporteti iz Palestine, Tamara Abdul HadiSelf Portraits from inside Palestine, Tamara Abdul Hadi

 Do you have any special wishes and plans for the future projects?

Publishing Picture an Arab Man as a book is a big future project for me, as well as my own personal projects and photography workshops- like the self portraits series. I recently registered an arts organization- Fannan– which I am using as a platform for these workshops.

 

/ /all photos © Tamara Abdul Hadi//

 

For more on Tamara Abdul Hadi and her projects – visit her official website and Rawiya collective.

Standard
art of resistance, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, United Arab Emirates

Picture an Arab man.

Tamara Abdul Hadi is a Canadian – Iraqi photojournalist. She was raised in Canada, and after graduation went to live and work for Reuters in UAE. Later on she moved and lived and worked all over the Middle East. Her personal photography projects deal with social injustice and deconstructing stereotypes.  She also initiated and taught photography and art therapy workshops to women and children in marginalized communities in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq.

One of her most famous projects is Picture an Arab man. She spent years travelling around the world photographing Arab men and collecting material for a forthcoming book. About the project, she says:

The conceptual aim of this portrait series is two-fold: Trying to uncover and break the stereotypes placed upon the Arab male, and providing an alternative visual representation of that identity. Secondly, it is a celebration of their sensual beauty, an unexplored aspect of the identity of the contemporary Arab man, on the cusp of change in a society that reveres an out-dated form of hyper-masculinity. 

I have photographed men in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, UAE , Palestine and Canada. They have been Iraqi, Syrian, Palestinian, Lebanese, Egyptian, Sudanese, Emirati, Jordanian, and of mixed heritage. My plan is now to photograph men from the remaining countries of the Middle East to truly represent the diversity of the Arab region.

In these photographs the men are no longer portrayed as faceless members of a politicized group, a statistic on the evening news, and this project helps them as much as the viewers, to regain their personal identity as complex and unique individuals.

1

3

4

5

6

11

12

abdul_hadi_tamara_01-890x593

daffy smallall photos ©  Tamara Abdul Hadi

For more on this project and Hadi’s other work, visit her official website.

Standard
art of resistance, Azerbaijan

Faig Ahmed: Reorienting the Carpet Icons.

Faig Ahmed is an artist you want to hear about.

Azerbaijan-carpet-thread-installation5Faig Ahmed

He graduated from the Sculpture faculty at the Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Art in Baku. Last ten years he has been working with various media, including painting, video and installation. Currently, he is studying the artistic qualities of Azerbaijani traditional rugs – he disassembles their conventional structure and randomly rearranges the resulting components of the traditional composition then combines these fragments with contemporary sculptural forms. 

Faig-Ahmed-9-650x322

On his work, he writes:

“Our opinions and decisions are resulting from the influences of our childhood. If we could know all the details of someone’s life we could easily predicted his reactions and choices. 
Tradition is the main factor creating the society as a self regulated system. Changes in the non-written rule happen under influence of global modern culture.

Faig-Ahmed-3-650x975
The carpet is a symbol of invincible tradition of the East, it’s a visualization of an undestroyable icon.
In my art I see the culture differently. This is more of expectation of a reaction because it’s exactly the change of the points of view that changes the world.

02-Faig-Ahmed-700x364
Slight changes in the form of a carpet dramatically change it’s structure and maybe make it more suitable for the modern life.
The Eastern culture is very reach visually. I cover it all in minimalistic forms, destroying the stereotypes of the tradition and creating new modern boundaries. A man can widen the borders and change them but no one has ever dare to break our spirit. “

444857fabf60d7f2cc756d11efe3f5da

All of these carpets are woolen and handmade. For more of Faig’s work, go to his official website. Enjoy.

Faig-Ahmed-6-650x962all images © Faig Ahmed

Standard