World Picks from the Editors: Feb 23 — Mar 7

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

Translation Across Borders: Aliyeh Ataei and Salar Abdoh in conversation

Feb 28, Paris — more info

Hands down, we’ll admit that we’re slightly biased promoting this one. We’re chuffed that TMR writer, friend and TMR championing aficionado, has released a new book. A Nearby Country Called Love is both a captivating window into contemporary Iran and a portrait of the parallel fates of a man and his country—a man who acknowledges the sullen and rumbling baggage of history but then chooses to step past its violent inheritance.

Salar Abdoh will explore themes of translation, identity, and borders alongside yet another TMR contributor Aliyeh Ataei, author of The Border of the Forgotten, which delves into the echoes of exile and the invisible wounds of war, writing in her native language. Both will navigate the complexities of language, history, and personal narrative in a conversation moderated by Laura Brimo, a Paris-based editor and translator.

This event will be held in English and is co-sponsored by Columbia Global Centers | Paris and the Institute for Ideas and Imagination  with the support of The Markaz Review (TMR).

The 10th annual AWAN Arab Women's series in London in March.
The 10th annual AWAN Arab Women’s series in London in March.

AWAN Festival 2024: A Special 10th Edition

Feb 29 —March 30, Various venues, London more info

The 10th edition of AWAN, which is founded and produced by Arts Canteen, is “more an act of defiance than a celebration,” point out the organizers in the festival’s brochure. “During a time when we witness horrific injustices on our screens unrelentingly – the work, voices, and perspectives of artists become radiant beacons, casting hopeful and uplifting rays of light.”

This year, the festival embraces a diverse range of creative projects expressed through commissions and residences, film, art, literature, performance, music, comedy, and workshops. The program certainly aims to “be in conversation with the current political and social climate we face – with a special emphasis on Gazan and Sudanese voices … We also want to clarify that ‘women’ is inclusive of all female-identifying peoples and are committed to challenging restrictive, reductive and binary stereotypes.”

Panel Discussion: Syria’s Forgotten Children

Feb 28, Frontline Club, London — more info

What began as an investigation into a missing boy in northeast Syria quickly became something much bigger for journalists Poonam Taneja and Jewan Abdi.

The BBC reporters travelled to northeast Syria in 2022 to search for Salmaan, a young boy who went missing four years prior during the bombardment in the war against ISIS.

During their investigation, Taneja and Abdi met a woman in a prison camp who claimed to have known Salmaan and his mother, offering insight on where to continue their search. The journalists soon learned that this woman (called DA in the podcast before her real name, Dure Ahmed, was made public) was hiding a big piece of her identity from them.

Ahmed is the ex-wife of notorious ISIS fighter El Shafee Elsheikh, who was part of a group known as ‘The IS Beatles’ — responsible for the death of American journalist James Foley and other hostages.

The panel discussion includes investigative reporter Poonam Taneja, investigative producer Jewan Abdi and Beatrice Eriksson the co-founder of Repatriate the Children.

Translation as Hospitality exhibition at The Mosaic Rooms, London.

Translation as Hospitality Exhibition

Ongoing —March 10, The Mosaic Rooms, London — more info

Be warned. This interactive exhibit may not be one you want to take the little ones to. The films playing on loop within this exhibition —Suliman Elnour’s Wa lakin alardh tadur (It Still Rotates) and Ibrahim Shaddad’s Jagdpartie (Hunting Party) — reference traumatic and distressing content including scenes depicting graphic violence, death, and racial abuse.

That said, Translation as Hospitality is an installation for learning and knowledge distribution presented in London for the first time. It invites the dreams of the past to translate themselves into the present and into our collective social and political desires. The exhibition is a continued and ongoing collaboration and conversation between The School of Mutants and The Mosaic Rooms.

Music for Gaza, Amman
Music for Gaza, Amman.

Music for Gaza – Autostrad and Luay Hijazeen

March 1, Amman — more info

The deal on this one? Every ticket you buy will support charity efforts in Gaza. Autostrad, a Jordanian Indie band formed in 2007, tackles stories of love, struggle, financial challenges, life on the street, and finding one’s self in their music. Their song “Say Palestine” which they released two months ago with @shadizaqtan has already had over 18K views. The song, they write on their You Tube channel, is a call to disseminate Palestine’s name, scribe it, document it, capture it, splash it, and speak about it. Check them out:

Luay Hijazeen is a Jordanian songwriter, composer, producer, and singer. In June 2020, he founded Rush Production House, an organization through which he hopes to shed light on and foster new talents.

Issam Kourbaj, Threat, 2020, Single Syrian wheat seed under razor blade
Urgent Archive, Issam Kourbaj, “Threat,” 2020, single Syrian wheat seed under razor blade.

Issam Kourbaj: Urgent Archive Exhibition

Mar 2 —May 26, Kettle’s Yard, London — more info

In her TMR review of the exhibition, Sophie Kazan Makhlouf wrote: “Urgent Archive is about bringing together objects and places that work with or confront each other in an effort to make people think about the situation in Syria or question their own perceptions of war, migration, and displacement.”

Since 2011 Issam Kourbaj’s artwork has responded to the ongoing conflict in Syria, and reflects on the suffering of his fellow Syrians and the destruction of his cultural heritage. This exhibition presents key works from this period alongside a new series which explores themes of loss, memory and renewal.

The exhibition – the artist’s largest to date – will include installation, sculpture, performance and works on paper. Kourbaj will be present at intervals throughout the exhibition, which will evolve as he adds to the displays.

Palestinian Voices

Mar 2 & Mar 3, Oakland, US — more info

Palestinian Voices is an ongoing program seeking to showcase the history, culture and people of Palestine. It is presented by AFMI, the first organization of its kind outside the Arab world to nurture and develop Arab film and media projects.

The weekend will include a selection of Palestinian films that were originally set to screen at the Arab Film Festival, as well as free community events.

The films showing are: Three Promises by director Yousef Srouji (2023), A House in Jerusalem by director Muayad Alayan (2023), and Bye Bye Tiberias directed by Lina Soualem (2023).

Hala Gorani in conversation with Clarissa Ward: But You Don’t Look Arab.

Book Talk: But You Don’t Look Arab by Hala Gorani

March 19, Frontline Club, London — more info

Emmy Award-winning international journalist Hala Gorani’s path to self-discovery started the moment she could understand that she was “other” wherever she found herself to be. Born of Syrian parents in America and raised mainly in France, she didn’t feel at home in Aleppo, Seattle, Paris, or London. She is a citizen of everywhere and nowhere. And like many journalists who’ve covered wars and conflicts, she felt most at home on the ground reporting and in front of the camera.

From the courts of Ottoman Empire sultans through the stories of the citizens from her home country and other places torn apart by unrest, But You Don’t Look Arab combines Gorani’s family history with rigorous reporting, and explaining the constant upheavals in the Middle East over the last century.

Gorani was born in Seattle, WA in the U.S., raised in France, and split her time between London and CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta during her anchoring career. She studied economics in the U.S. and is a graduate of Sciences Po in Paris. She lives in London with her husband and a cuddly cavalier spaniel named Louis.

She will be interviewed by multi-award winning chief international correspondent based in London, Clarissa Ward.


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