World Art, Music & Zoom Beat the Pandemic Blues

28 September, 2020

1907 LP cover by the Levantine label Baidaphone. Lebanese singer Farjallah Baida (1880–1933) sings the popular 19th century poem,

Curated by Malu Halasa

Arab Music Exhibition / Marseille
Orient Resonance: Forgotten Music, Living Music 

from/at MUCEM (Musée des civil­i­sa­tions de l’Eu­rope et de la Méditer­ranée) 

7 Prom­e­nade Robert Laf­font (Esplanade du J4)
13002 Mar­seille, FR
Tel: +33 (0)4 84 35 13 13

through the 1st of April, 2021

Lis­ten online or go in person…From the his­toric sound col­lec­tions of Foun­da­tion AMAR (Arab Music Archiv­ing & Research) comes the exhi­bi­tion Ori­ent Res­o­nance fea­tur­ing six­ty rare 78 discs from the ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry.

These first records, pro­duced and released by fam­i­ly-owned record com­pa­nies for local con­sump­tion, would have been com­plete­ly for­got­ten if not for the dig­i­ti­za­tion, under­tak­en by AMAR in Beirut. The exhi­bi­tion also includes video instal­la­tions of twelve cur­rent­ly endan­gered oral music tra­di­tions. These too would have been lost – this time to war, the per­se­cu­tion of reli­gious and eth­nic minori­ties and chang­ing mores – had they not been col­lect­ed, doc­u­ment­ed and record­ed in the field, from 2016–19.

From Iraq to North Africa via the Gulf, Ara­bic song reveals a diver­si­ty of sound, melodies and rhythm – in sec­u­lar, sacred and pop­u­lar music. Curat­ed by AMAR’s founder Kamal Kas­sar, with film­mak­er and pho­tog­ra­ph­er Fadi Yeni Turk.

Al-Budeiry Library in the Old City of Jerusalem. (Courtesy Hill Museum and Manuscript Library)

 Course on Arab Manuscripts “Manuscripts in Arabic Script: Introduction to Codicology” 

Insti­tute for the Study of Mus­lim Civil­i­sa­tions Aga Khan Uni­ver­si­ty
10 Handy­side St
Lon­don N1C 4DN 
Tel: +44 (0) 207 380 3800

course 23–34 Octo­ber, 2020 on Zoom

This two-day course intro­duces Ara­bic man­u­scripts. The first day will pro­vide an overview of the field of cod­i­col­o­gy and its role in in iden­ti­fy­ing the key fea­tures of a par­tic­u­lar man­u­script as well as cov­er­ing para-tex­tu­al fea­tures in Ara­bic man­u­scripts. The sec­ond day will be ded­i­cat­ed to writ­ing sup­ports, the struc­ture of quires, rul­ing and page lay­out, book­bind­ing, orna­men­ta­tion, tools and mate­ri­als used in book­mak­ing, and the pale­og­ra­phy of book hands, as well as a focus on the impor­tance of man­u­scripts in research and dif­fer­ent approach­es in edit­ing man­u­scripts. With lec­tur­ers Dr. Walid Ghali, head of the Aga Khan Library and assis­tant pro­fes­sor at the Aga Khan Uni­ver­si­ty’s Insti­tute for the Study of Mus­lim Civil­i­sa­tions, in Lon­don; and Dr. Anne Regourd, researcher at the Cen­tre Nation­al de la Recherche Scientifique/French Nation­al Cen­tre for Sci­en­tif­ic Research (CNRS) in Paris. Go here for detailed bios.


Tick­ets: £80 for pro­fes­sion­als | £50 for stu­dents, AKU alum­ni and staff. Book your tick­et.

Jumanah Bawazir Exhibition / London / Permanent Transience

21–27 Chal­ton St.
Lon­don NW1 1JD
Tel: +44 20 7121 6190

through 10.10.2020 

Through inter­views, vir­tu­al recon­struct­ing of expe­ri­ence and poet­ry, Jumanah Bawazir worked with Soma­li women caught in lim­bo, after flee­ing a coun­try, before reset­tle­ment. Per­ma­nent Tran­sience gives voice to their expe­ri­ences while hold­ing to account gov­ern­ments that oper­ate Euro­pean sur­veil­lance sys­tems, which con­trol the flow of migrants. The film in the exhi­bi­tion tells the sto­ry of one Soma­li woman to illus­trate the expe­ri­ences of some 3.3 mil­lion peo­ple liv­ing under gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance. A mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary design­er of mixed her­itage, Bawazir draws from archi­tec­ture, film and poet­ry to con­front sys­temic injus­tices of class, race and gen­der in the lives of BIPOC (black, indige­nous, and peo­ple of color). 

Heba Y. Amin Exhibition / London / When I see the future, I close my eyes

The Mosa­ic Rooms
226 Cromwell Rd
Lon­don SW5 0SW
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7370 9990 

from Oct. 1, 2020 to the 28th of March, 2021

Operation Sunken Sea: Relocating the Mediterranean, Inaugural Speech , 2018 One channel video, 18'21

This first UK solo exhi­bi­tion of Berlin-based Egypt­ian mul­ti-media artist Heba Y. Amin inves­ti­gates the rela­tion­ship between elu­sive nar­ra­tives of region­al Mid­dle East pol­i­tics and the glob­al con­cerns. She par­tic­i­pat­ed in the sub­ver­sive graf­fi­ti action on the set of the “Home­land” TV series. In the exhi­bi­tion, each of the artist’s still evolv­ing mul­ti­me­dia pieces – Project Speak2Tweet; The Gen­er­al’s Stork and Oper­a­tion Sunken Sea all stem from real life: new tech­no­log­i­cal for­mats instru­men­tal in Egyp­t’s rev­o­lu­tion, a migra­to­ry bird turned inter­na­tion­al ‘spy’, and last­ly a pro­pos­al to ‘solve’ the migra­tion cri­sis by pulling the plug on the Mediter­ranean Sea. “Amin inves­ti­gates how the elu­sive nar­ra­tives of region­al pol­i­tics in the Mid­dle East relate to glob­al con­cerns. Her research-based, mul­ti­me­dia works take spec­u­la­tive, and some­times satir­i­cal, approach­es to under­stand­ing these his­tor­i­cal events and process­es.” Curat­ed by Antho­ny Downey, who serves as her edi­tor for the forth­com­ing title The Gen­er­al’s Stork.

Exhi­bi­tion press release here.

Gender & Identity Project / Neoliberal Visions: Exploring Gendered Adverts and Identities in the Palestinian West Bank 

in collaboration with Birzeit University 

Dream Home in Palestine  housing loan advert (al-qard al-sakney) from the Arab Bank, Ramallah, 19 January 2017. ‘I wished' (tamaniyat) crossed out and replaced with ‘I owned' (tamalikat). Source: Polly Withers

LSE Mid­dle East Cen­tre
Houghton St
Lon­don WC2A 2AE
Tel: +44 (0)20 7405 7686

on through March 2021 

In Ramal­lah, bill­boards, TV screens and posters line the streets. Many fea­ture hap­py het­er­nor­ma­tive fam­i­lies often admir­ing the fin­er things in life like a dream home. The pro­jec­t’s first report, “Neolib­er­al Visions: Explor­ing Gen­dered Adverts and Iden­ti­ties in the Pales­tin­ian West Bank” exam­ines the pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion of gen­dered adver­tise­ments as a way to explore how neolib­er­al cul­ture con­structs gen­dered sub­jec­tiv­i­ty. The project broad­ly asks how trans­form­ing forms of polit­i­cal econ­o­my, social rela­tions, and cul­tur­al prac­tices relate to chang­ing modes of gen­der and sex­u­al­i­ties, iden­ti­ties, desires, and emo­tions in con­tem­po­rary Pales­tine. With prin­ci­ple inves­ti­ga­tor Dr. Pol­ly With­ers, research offi­cer at LSE Mid­dle East Cen­tre, and co-prin­ci­ple inves­ti­ga­tor, Remi Ham­ma­mi, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of anthro­pol­o­gy at the Insti­tute of Wom­en’s Stud­ies, Birzeit University.

US Presidential Election: What next for US Policy towards the Middle East?

Webi­nar from Chatham House
The Roy­al Insti­tute of Inter­na­tion­al Affairs
10 St. James Square
Lon­don SW1Y 4LE
Tel: +44 (0)20 7957 5700

10.27.2020, 13.00–14.00 GMT

The Novem­ber 3rd US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is expect­ed to sig­nif­i­cant­ly impact US pol­i­cy towards the Mid­dle East. In this webi­nar, pan­elists for­mer Ambas­sador Den­nis Ross, for­mer spe­cial assis­tant to Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, and Dr. Sanam Vak­il, Deputy Direc­tor and Senior Research Fel­low at Chatham House­’s Mid­dle East and North Africa Pro­gramme, among oth­ers, will con­sid­er the region­al pol­i­cy pri­or­i­ties of a Biden and Trump admin­is­tra­tion and will assess poten­tial respons­es from the region. Mod­er­at­ed by Chatham House­’s Dr. Leslie Vin­ja­muri, the webi­nar will be livestreamed on Chatham House­’s MENA Pro­gramme Face­book page.

 New Documentary by Yasmin Fedda / Ayouni

from Syr­ia 

For the fam­i­ly and friends of the over 100,000 forcibly dis­ap­peared in Syr­ia, the ongo­ing con­flict remains an open wound. Ayouni, by the award-win­ning film direc­tor Yas­min Fed­da, tells the sto­ry of two women look­ing for their loved ones who dis­ap­peared in Syr­ia. Human rights lawyer Noura Ghazi mar­ried her hus­band Bas­sel Khara­bil, an open soft­ware design­er behind Cre­ative Com­mons Syr­ia, who worked for Wikipedia and Mozil­la. He was arrest­ed in 2012 and then dis­ap­peared into Syr­i­a’s noto­ri­ous prison sys­tem, where he was secret­ly exe­cut­ed in 2015. Machi Dal­l’Oglio began her search for her broth­er, Pao­lo, a Jesuit priest and peace activist, after his kid­nap­ping in Raqqa in 2013. Father Pao­lo had spent thir­ty years in Syr­ia co-estab­lish­ing the Deir Mar Musa com­mu­ni­ty for inter­faith dia­logue in a 6th cen­tu­ry monastery north of Dam­as­cus. Ayouni, shot over six years and in 10 coun­tries, is a tes­ti­mo­ny to the pow­er of hope against bru­tal dictatorship.

 Catch Up / Arab Art in Focus: The Future of Cultural Festivals 

Mid­dle East Insti­tute
Wash­ing­ton, D.C. / Online 
1763 N St. NW,
Wash­ing­ton DC 20036
Tel: 202 785‑1141 

The impact of Covid-19 has meant that Mid­dle East cul­tur­al fes­ti­vals are rethink­ing their mod­els and inno­vat­ing new ways to reach audi­ences while remain­ing engaged and rel­e­vant. In a region where plat­forms and oppor­tu­ni­ties for the per­form­ing arts are so lim­it­ed, how do these new chal­lenges impact broad­er cul­tur­al pro­duc­tion and audi­ence engage­ment? Speak­ers includ­ed H.E. Huda Kanoo, founder of the Abu Dhabi Fes­ti­val; Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, UNESCO assis­tant direc­tor-gen­er­al for cul­ture; Raed Asfour, direc­tor of the Al Bal­ad Music Fes­ti­val; and Eck­hard Thie­mann, artis­tic direc­tor of the Shub­bak Fes­ti­val. Mod­er­at­ed by NPR cul­ture reporter Neda Ula­by.  

The Middle East Institute also hosts an online photo exhibition on Lebanon here.

 Ladies Only Night at Oxygen Park / Qatar Foundation / Doha / 

Edu­ca­tion City
Doha, Qatar 

Mon­days from 17:00–20:00 through the 31st of Decem­ber, 2020

Oxy­gen Park’s undu­lat­ing, organ­ic forms and fea­tures were inspired by the desert’s wind-erod­ed rocks and land­scapes. Every Mon­day evening until the end of the year, the 130,000-square-meter park becomes a wom­en’s only space, ide­al for walk­ing, think­ing and biking.

Oyxgen Park, Qatar.
Malu Halasa

Malu Halasa is a Lon­don-based writer and edi­tor. Her debut nov­el, Moth­er of All Pigs was reviewed by the New York Times as “a micro­cos­mic por­trait of … a patri­ar­chal order in slow-motion decline.” Next year Kotob Khan in Cairo will pub­lish Moth­er of All Pigs in Ara­bic. Malu’s six co-edit­ed antholo­gies include—Syr­ia Speaks: Art and Cul­ture from the Front­line, with Zaher Oma­reen; The Secret Life of Syr­i­an Lin­gerie: Inti­ma­cy and Design, with Rana Salam; and the short series: Tran­sit Beirut, with Rosanne Kha­laf, and Tran­sit Tehran, with Maziar Bahari. She was man­ag­ing edi­tor of the Prince Claus Fund Library; a found­ing edi­tor of Tank Mag­a­zine and Edi­tor at Large for Por­tal 9. As a for­mer free­lance jour­nal­ist in the Lon­don, she cov­ered wide-rang­ing sub­jects, from water as occu­pa­tion in Israel/Palestine to Syr­i­an comics dur­ing the present-day con­flict. Her books, exhi­bi­tions and lec­tures chart a chang­ing Mid­dle East. She recent­ly talked to Faisal Al-Yad­fai about Moth­er of All Pigs.


Malu Halasa is a London-based writer and editor. Her six co-edited anthologies include—Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, with Zaher Omareen; The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie: Intimacy and Design, with Rana Salam; and the short series: Transit Beirut, with Rosanne Khalaf, and Transit Tehran, with Maziar Bahari. She was managing editor of the Prince Claus Fund Library; a founding editor of Tank Magazine and Editor at Large for Portal 9. As a former freelance journalist in the London, she covered wide-ranging subjects, from water as occupation in Israel/Palestine to Syrian comics during the present-day conflict. Her books, exhibitions and lectures chart a changing Middle East. Malu Halasa’s debut novel, Mother of All Pigs was reviewed by the New York Times as “a microcosmic portrait of … a patriarchal order in slow-motion decline.”