World Picks from The Editors: April 27 — May 6

26 April, 2024
TMR World Picks are selected by our editors. We welcome your suggestions:


The Infinite & The Finite: Khaled Akil

April 25 — June 25, Ayyam Gallery, Dubai, UAE —more info

Istanbul-based Khaled Akil will be presenting his most recent body of work in a first solo exhibition in the UAE at the Ayyam Gallery. Akil, an Aleppo-born multimedia artist who initiated his career in photography and gradually liberated himself through different media, creates his compositions through infinite strata, one atop the other using intuition and memories to find balance in the relationship between cause and effect. His work brings time and space together through medium and concept, putting all his tools together to tackle the immensity of the universe.

The artist aims to depict the unseen, the felt, and the omnipresent in this exhibition.

Radiant Matter The Mosaic Rooms
Radiant Matter, The Mosaic Rooms, London.

Radiant Matter: online talk

Apr 30, Online — more info

Join the Mosaic Rooms for an online talk by scholar Jill Jarvis to examine the role of art and literature as a witness to trauma endured by Algerians during and after French colonization. Jarvis’ academic research foregrounds aesthetic works as testimony of the toxic radiance that French nuclear imperialism imposed in the Sahara. Departing from Jarvis’ book Decolonizing Memory: Algeria and the Politics of Testimony, the discussion will explore how art and literature rewrite history, dispute state authority to arbitrate justice, and cultivate a porous archive for imagining decolonized futures.

Every Brilliant Thing - play - Ahmed El Attar
Ahmed El Attar’s adaptation of Every Brilliant Thing.

Every Brilliant Thing: Ahmed El Attar’s Arabic Adaption of Duncan Macmillan’s Play

May 1 —3, The Black Box, NYUAD, UAE —more info

Every Brilliant Thing, adapted and directed by Ahmed El Attar, is a play about all the things worth living for, in an hour of life and humor that talks about mental health.

Originally published in the UK in 2013, Every Brilliant Thing, written by Duncan Macmillan, became an international sensation. It was translated into Arabic by Ahmed El Attar, as part of a bigger project: Theatre in translation – Contemporary European Theatre in Arabic, which aims at translating a total of 24 contemporary plays by European playwrights to Arabic.

The performance on May 1 is followed by a post-show Q&A with the artist, moderated by Abhishek Mujamdar, Associate Arts Professor of Theatre, NYU Abu Dhabi.

AFMI‘s Arab Women in the Arts showcase.

The 4th Annual Arab Women In The Arts Showcase

May 2—5 in New York and May 9—12 in the San Francisco Bay Area, with online programming from May 3—12 — more info 

Arab Women in the Arts is AFMI’s annual showcase to honor generations of Arab women who have excelled in and revolutionized all forms of artistic expression, with a highlight on the incredible Syrian filmmaker Soudade Kaadan.

This year’s event will emphasize identity and connections to home or homeland, with themes such as food, sustenance, soil and the concept of self-reliance. It will showcase the innovative and creative work of both established and up-and-coming artists in film, poetry and the visual arts from across the Arab world, the larger SWANA region and the diaspora.

All proceeds from the 2024 edition of Arab Women in the Arts will be donated to Palestine Legal, an independent organization dedicated to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of people in the US who speak out for Palestinian freedom.

Palestine Vision

May 7, Notting Hill, London —more info

Bethlehem Cultural Festival presents an evening of Palestinian music, in which renowned Palestinian musicians will be traveling from all corners of the world to celebrate the indomitable Palestinian culture. The event will be introduced by playwright and director Ahmed Najar from Gaza and Abdelfattah Abusrour, director of the Alrowwad Centre for Arts and Culture in Palestine.

Artists include El Far3i (Jordanian drummer and rapper) Tamer Nafar (Haifa-based actor, writer and rapper), Yaz (UK-based Palestinian singer), Bashar Murad (Paris-based Palestinian singer), Faris Ishaq (Bethlehem-based; Palestinian nay master, musician, and composer), and noorxo (Chicago-based Palestinian/Jordanian singer and songwriter). Lina Sleibi, the Bethlehem-based Palestinian singer will join virtually.

Farah (2020), from the series 50 Years Later, Courtesy of Rania Matar
“Farah,” from the series 50 Years Later, 2020 (courtesy of Rania Matar).

Louder Than Hearts: Women Photographers from the Arab World and Iran

May 9 — Oct 4, Middle East Institute, DC, US — more info

The art exhibition “Louder Than Hearts,” curated by Rania Matar, takes its name from a book of poems on love and loss by  Lebanese poet Zeina Hashem Beck. It showcases the work of ten women artists from the Arab world and Iran, who capture the resilience, strength, beauty, and creativity of women in the region, often in the face of great adversity.

The Egyptian, Iranian, Jordanian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Saudi, and Yemeni photographers represented in the show explore the diversity of experiences and personal narratives told by women across a vast geographic area. The works underscore the shared humanity of women, weaving together the threads of personal and collective life experiences while providing insights into the artists’ perspectives and realities, as well as their strengths and vulnerabilities.

Open Days of the Workshop of Artists in Exile

Ongoing —Apr 26, Paris, France —more info

The workshop of Artists in Exile opens its doors for a festive celebration featuring exhibitions, performances, screenings and concerts. Attendees will have the opportunity to discover new works and meet the artists.

Chaos is a Flower exhibition.
Chaos is a Flower exhibition at San Mei Gallery, London.

Chaos is a Flower

Ongoing—June 1, San Mei Gallery, London —more info

San Mei Gallery presents Chaos is a Flower, a new exhibition by Libyan artist Tawfik Naas featuring a newly commissioned body of work including sculpture, wall and installation-based artworks.

This exhibition focuses on the Great Manmade River, a government-led infrastructure system initiated by Muammar Gaddafi in the late 1980s. It aimed to provide fresh water from underground fossil aquifers in the Sahara to the coastal regions of Libya. However, the project produced unintended consequences that caused distress and trauma to individuals and communities involved, including Naas’ own family, who migrated soon thereafter.

Naas employs a “post eco-cosmic review” to merge cosmological and ecological perspectives, gathering historical details, personal images and symbolic references.

The 5 Books You Should Be Reading Right Now!

The States of the Earth: An Ecological and Racial History of Secularization by Mohamed Amer Meziane, translated by Jonathan Adjemian, Verso Books, 2024

Do you ever wonder how imperialism can distort human behavior and leave a lasting impact on individuals and society as a whole? Is religion the opium of the people and what does that have to do with the climate crisis?

Philosopher, performer, winner of the Albertine Prize for non-fiction in 2023, and professor at Colombia University, Mohamed Amer Meziane’s recently published book questions the connection between the secularization process and climate change. He argues that God was erased from politics to serve colonial and imperial designs.

The author argues that the domination of Earth by modern sovereign states through land expropriation and territorial boundaries has led to the emergence of various phenomena, such as evangelism, political Islam, and climate change. These religious and secular forces have subsequently caused significant damage to Earth in their pursuit of achieving their own version of Heaven on Earth.

According to a review in Hors-Série, Mohamed Amer Meziane’s work “lays the foundation for new and revolutionary horizons of thought.”

From AUC press in Cairo.

The Ghosts of Iraq’s Marshes: A History of Conflict, Tragedy, and Restoration by Steve Lonergan, Jassim Al-Asadi and Keith Holmes, AUC Press, 2024

On April 22, Earth Day, nations around the world remembered the importance of preserving our planet which makes The Ghosts of Iraq’s Marshes a timely read that sheds light on the history of the marshes in Iraq. It covers their creation, destruction and revitalization, while also highlighting the struggles of their inhabitants against the backdrop of the significant events that have impacted Iraq over the past 50 years.

Jassim al-Asadi, an irrigation engineer was jailed and tortured under Saddam Hussein. After his release, he dedicated his life to restoring the Marshes which were eventually declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Jassim is eminently relatable, and the stories of his life and other marsh dwellers are infused with pathos, tragedy, humor, and passion.


This Strange Eventful History, a novel by Claire Messud
Claire Messud’s new novel from WW Norton.

This Strange Eventful History by Claire Messud, W. W. Norton & Company, May 14, 2024

In her latest work, American novelist, creative writing professor and author of six books of fiction, Claire Messud tells the story of the Cassars, a multigenerational family of pied-noirs who were forced to leave Algeria due to the country’s 1954-62 war of independence. The author draws on her own family history.

Hailed as a “tour de force” and set in WWII, this unfolding story takes readers on a journey across countries including Salonica, Algeria, the US, Cuba, Canada, Argentina, Australia and France. While the characters search for a sense of wholeness, their lives are shaped by the imperatives of politics, faith, family, industry and desire.


A Mouth Full of Salt, a novel by Reem Gaffar
A Mouth Full of Salt is published by Saqi.

A Mouth Full of Salt, a novel by Reem Gaafar, Saqi, 2024

Reem Gaafar works as a writer, physician, and filmmaker. She recently received the 2023 Island Prize for her debut novel A Mouth Full of Salt, which is set in Sudan. The judges described the book as “stylistically simple, insightful and elegant; sharing truths like all the best fiction, it is compelling, has a profound sense of place, and shows brilliance in the ways the destinies weave together.”

The novel is set in a Sudanese village in the late 1970s. After a boy drowns, a woman appears, and strange events occur: animals die, fields burn, and a girl leaves for medical school, something unheard of in that area and at that time. The villagers turn to the woman, whom they see as a witch, believing that her evil is to blame, rather than confront their own bigotry. A Mouth Full of Salt reveals a nation on the verge of transformation, where women have the power to determine which customs are relevant and which prophecies should be revised.

Knife: meditations after an attempted murder, by Salman Rushdie, Penguin Random House, 2024

On the morning of August 12, 2022, Salman Rushdie was standing onstage at the Chautauqua Institution, preparing to give a lecture on the importance of keeping writers safe from harm, when a man dressed in black clothes and wearing a black mask rushed down the aisle toward him, wielding a knife. His first thought: So it’s you. Here you are.

Rushdie recounts the traumatic act of violence that shook the literary world and beyond. In the memoir he describes his journey to recovery and the support he received from his family, doctors and readers.

—Rana Asfour


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