World Picks From The Editors: May 17 — May 31

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




U.S. Book Tour: Stories from the Center of the World with TMR editor Jordan Elgrably & contributing writers

Ongoing — May 22, in-person & online, various locations, US— more info

Celebrate the release of Stories from the Center of the World: New Middle East Fiction, edited by TMR’s editor-in-chief Jordan Elgrably and published by Citylights Books. Contributing writers Sarah AlKahly-Mills, Reza Sixo Safai, Ahmed Naji, Sahar Mustafah, Natasha Tynes and Omar El Akkad will be joining Jordan on his tour.

Stories from the Center of the World gathers new writing from the greater Middle East, or SWANA. The 25 authors come from a wide range of cultures and countries, including Palestine, Syria, Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, and Morocco.

Arab Film festival
Arab Film Festival live and online.

The AANM Arab Film Festival 2024

Ongoing — May 19, in-person & online, various locations, US —more info

 The Arab Film Festival presents a selection of Arab and Arab American films catering to fans of Arabic-language cinema and art-house enthusiasts looking for fresh perspectives and innovative storytelling since its inception in 2005. The festival showcases a variety of films by artists from the Arab world and Arab American community, offering genres such as drama, comedy and documentary, in short and feature-length formats, making the festival a unique opportunity to experience these cultural narratives. All festival films are subtitled in English.

On May 18th, there will be a screening of the short docu-film “Falasteen” (Palestine) followed by a conversation with directors Dina Amin (The Palestine Before) & Zayd Lahham (Jabal). Inspired by the idea of the “rememory” as found in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, the ReMemory Landscape workshop on May 19th shares how to capture the abstract notion of memory through material exploration. Using reclaimed fabric, collage methods, and appliqué techniques, the workshop relies on a making-while-meditating mindset. Participants will explore how to depict their personal memories of specific landscapes through the use of fabric collage and abstract imagery.

Kutubna Cultural Center’s Documentary Photo Exhibition

Rana AlMuttawa book
Everyday Life in the Spectacular City

Ongoing—July 4, Dubai, UAE—more info

Kutubna Cultural Center, Dubai’s newest independent bookstore and cultural center announced the opening of Dr. Rana AlMutawa’s urban ethnography photo exhibition “Everyday Life in the Spectacular City.”

The exhibition, which is free to attend, is Dr. AlMutawa’s first solo exhibition in Dubai. The photographs in the exhibit form a part of the research that AlMutawa conducted for her book, Everyday Life in the Spectacular City: Making home in Dubai, published by the University of California Press, the book is a pioneering urban ethnography that explores how middle-class citizens and long-time residents of Dubai interact with the city’s spaces to create meaningful social lives.

The exhibition showcases over 33 documentary photographs taken during AlMutawa’s fieldwork from 2017-2021 to highlight the forms of belonging that take place in shopping malls and other so-called superficial spaces and to demonstrate that inhabitants do make meanings within the spectacle.

Commenting on the exhibition, AlMutawa said: “I want to show that “superficial” places are important cultural sites: ones where people go to see and to be seen by members of their community; where people have memories from their childhoods; and where social and gender norms are observed and negotiated. I hope that the book and exhibition can generate more debate about how to go about understanding these places without repeating the stereotype about inauthentic Gulf cities.”

Two images by Mona Ayyash
Two images by Mona Ayyash (courtesy of the artist).

Mona Ayyash: The Clock Doesn’t Care

May 16 — August 25, 421, Abu Dhabi, UAE —more info

In her first solo exhibition, The Clock Doesn’t Care, Mona Ayyash presents a collaborative video piece with a group of actors, dancers, and performance artists, focusing on small body movements. The work is a study of repetitive non-functional movements, without purpose or productivity. It questions the tension between passing time and wasting time. Selected through an open call, the artist’s collaborators committed to a long-term creative process where they contributed to the work by filming themselves responding to movement prompts, encouraging them to consider what ‘doing nothing’ looks like.

Mona Ayyash (b. 1987, Kuwait City) is a Palestinian visual artist based in Dubai, whose practice focuses on repetition, memorization, slowness, and boredom. She holds an MFA in Studio Arts from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. Her work was exhibited in NIKA Project Space in 2023, Jameel Art Centre in 2021, and Maraya Art Centre as part of the UAE Unlimited program in 2019. She took part in the Homebound Residency with 421 in 2020 and was an artist-in-residence at the Alserkal Residency for their Fall 2017 cycle.

Khan Aljanub is a bookstore and publisher in Berlin.
Khan Aljanub is an Arab bookstore and publisher in Berlin.

Khan Aljanub celebrates the opening of its new bookshop with a weekend of literary events

May 17 —18, Berlin, Germany —more info

As part of its grand opening, Khan Aljanub is hosting two events that you won’t want to miss. The first event, on May 17, will feature a collection of readings in Arabic and English as well as music by Ghaith Alshaar for Palestine. The readers include Heidi Julavits, Ryan Rauby, Emet Ezell, Katharine Halls, Dellair Youssef, Basma Mostafa, Yasmeen Daher, and Hiba Obaid. The audience is encouraged to join in.

The second event, on May 18, will feature a talk with Yassin Alhaj Saleh, moderated by the writer, academic researcher, and editor at the Aljoumhouria, Qasim Al Basri. The panel will discuss the events leading up to October 7, the situation in Palestine and Gaza in the context of the ongoing Israeli aggression since October 7, the current political climate in the West, especially in Germany, in light of the events in Gaza, and the implications for Arab refugees and immigrant communities, particularly in relation to the protest movements. The panel will also address the current political situation in Syria, the impact of events in Palestine on Syria, and the political interconnectedness of the Palestinian and Syrian issues.

Comédie du Livre with Karim Kattan & Alain Damasio
Karim Kattan and Alain Damasio in Montpellier at the Comédie du Livre.

Comédie de Livre: Carte Blanche. Dialogue between Alain Damasio & Karim Kattan

May 19, Albertine Sarrazin space – Promenade du Peyrou, Montpellier, France — more info 

Alain Damasio is hosting the Palestinian novelist and poet Karim Kattan for the last meeting of his “carte blanche” at La Comédie de Livre. Karim Kattan is the author of the debut novel in French, “Le palais des deux collines” (The Palace of the Two Hills), published by Elyzad. The novel portrays Palestine as a place of the imagination, intimate and rebellious. The meeting is being held in partnership with The Markaz Review and will be moderated by Sarah Polacci.

Check out Karim Kattan’s pieces for TMR here.

ateyyat El Abnnoudy
Ateyyat El Abnnoudy Retrospective.

Atteyat El-Abnoudy Retrospective: Mizna Film Series 2024, Feminist Visions–SWANA Cinema By And About Women

May 22, Trylon Cinema, Minneapolis, US — more info

Often considered Egypt’s pioneer documentary filmmaker and “filmmaker of the poor,” El-Abnoudy’s oeuvre maps the intersections of class, labor, and gender in Egypt, largely through the perspectives of women. With training in law, journalism, and filmmaking, El-Abnoudy was active as a documentary filmmaker from the 1970s through the early 2000s. El-Abnoudy’s films offer an intimate glimpse into the lives of working-class Egyptians through politically engaged and socially preoccupied documentary form. Giving a voice to women outside of Egypt’s metropolitan centers, El-Abnoudy enables her film subjects to return the camera’s gaze and narrate their stories in their own words.

The four films on show on the day are: Horse and Mud (1971, 12m), Sad Song of Touha (1972, 12m), The Sandwich (1975, 12m), Rawya (1995, 16m), and Permissible Dreams (1983, 31m).

The program is co-presented with Cimatheque and ArteEast.

Nawafiz Arab Music Festival
Nawafiz Arab Music Festival.

Nawafiz: Arabic Music Festival

May 24, TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht, Netherlands — more info

Experience the rich diversity of music, food and performances from the SWANA region (South West Asia North Africa) at the inaugural event Nawafiz. Whether you’re a fan or just looking for something new, our festival promises an unforgettable journey through the heart and soul of Arabic music by Marwan Moussa (Egyptian rapper), Shkoon (Arabic Electro), El Sawareekh – Mahraganat (Arabic pop), Aïta Mon Amour (Feminist electronic music from the Maghreb), and Disco Arabesquo & Dabke Night.

Art from artist Hamed Zenati
Art from artist Hamed Zenati (courtesy Nottingham Contemporary)

Hamid Zénati: Two Steps at a Time

May 25 — Sept 8, Nottingham Contemporary, UK— more info

Nottingham Contemporary presents the second-ever institutional exhibition of Algerian- German artist Hamid Zénati (b.1944, Algeria; d.2022, Germany). Celebrating Zénati’s nearly sixty-year career, this major survey casts him as an inventive, free thinker and artist of his time. A self-taught artist whose job as a translator brought him to Germany in the mid-1960s, Zénati worked compulsively across surfaces and disciplines from textiles, fashion and ceramics to wearable sculpture and photography, using his ‘all-over’ signature style. His inexhaustible wealth of forms, patterns and combinations of color, material and technique created an abstract visual language entirely his own. His textile paintings freely blend North African modernism, Japanese textile design, Sahrawi patterns, the set designs of Sonia Delaunay, and organic forms found in nature.

Fathi Hassan art
Art from Fathi Hassan (courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery).

Fathi Hassan Solo Exhibition: I Can See You Smiling Fatma

Ongoing—May 25, Richard Saltoun Gallery, London, UK—more info

Showcasing a new body of paintings and a site-specific wall painting, this will be Hassan’s first exhibition at the gallery, and follows from his participation in the 2023 Sharjah Biennial.

Entitled I can see you smiling Fatma, the exhibition, dedicated to his mother, showcases recent work that fuses his distinctive calligraphic motifs with the rich visual iconography drawn from his Nubian heritage. The exhibition will be followed by a further solo exhibition at No.9 Cork Street, London, entitled Fathi Hassan: Shifting Sands. Presented by The Sunderland Collection, this will be on view between May 31 – June 15, 2024. The two exhibitions jointly highlight the artist’s engagement with the experience of migration, dislocation, diasporic identity, and shifting notions of heritage.

West Bank: The Other War
West Bank: The Other War.

Screening + Q&A: West Bank, the Other War

May 21, Frontline Club, London —more info

The multi-awarding trio Isobel Yeung, Josh Baker and Sara Obeidat uncover multiple potential breaches of international law, including potential war crimes by the Israeli Military inside the occupied West Bank. They navigate gun battles, combat raids, and secretive meetings as they conduct their investigation. What they find raises serious questions about the conduct of the Israeli Military and uncovers a dangerous situation that is on the brink of exploding.

Ghosts of Iraq’s Marshes.

The Ghosts of Iraq’s Marshes: A Virtual Book Talk

May 21, AUC Press, Online —more info

Join the AUC Press for the virtual book discussion of The Ghosts of Iraq’s Marshes: A History of Conflict, Tragedy, and Restoration (AUC Press, 2024), which tells the gripping history of the devastation and resurrection of the Marshes of Iraq, an environmental treasure of the Middle East, now a protected site. The book discussion will be with book co-authors, Steve Lonergan and Jassim Al-Assadi.

And …

World Picks Spotlight: The Atassi Foundation for Arts and Culture E-Library

The Atassi Foundation E-Library currently comprises 87 scanned books, which will grow to include more publications with time. The oldest of these dates back to 1949, and the most recent to 2021. The goal of the library is to complement their support for knowledge related to Syrian art and enhance the status of Syrian artists. With current challenges surrounding a dearth of specialized writings on Syrian art and the difficulty of accessing what does exist, the E-Library project falls under our efforts to archive, document, and provide an accessible base for research.

The Atassi Foundation library houses rare and valuable books, brochures and catalogues. Currently, only their covers are available on the website. This is to protect them from unsolicited circulation and to respect copyright. Their content is available to researchers upon request.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *