By Jordan Elgrably
Following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and the end of the Second World War, the map of the Middle East and North Africa has been rewritten by colonialism, war and internecine conflict.
Whether the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the 1980-1988 war between Iraq and Iran, the first and second Gulf War in Iraq, the invasions of Afghanistan, or the Lebanese Civil War, millions of people have been displaced. Millions more have seen their lives changed forever with the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria that began in 2010.
In the 21st century, it is easy for us to forget that World War I was said to be "the war to end all wars." Here I am, writing on the 100th anniversary of that brutal conflagration that killed over 15 million combatants and civilians in Europe.
The Levantine Cultural Center (LCC) showcases a new exhibition, War and People: Art, Exile and the Middle East, focused on contemporary art and artifacts gathered from artists, war refugees and their children. The exhibit focuses on the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), the Israel-Palestine Wars of 1948 and 1967, the Lebanon Civil War (1975-1990), and the Syrian War (2011-2014), and also includes a spoken word evening, "Poets on War and People" on Dec. 4, 2014. More here. Artists include Melissa Chimera, Fadia Afashe, John Halaka, Kinda Hibrawi, Khalid Hussein and Kaveh Keshmiri.
Featuring a mix of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish artists and contributors, the exhibition and its related events present an intriguing dialogue between art, artists and their audiences, providing a forum for contrasting perspectives, such as how Iraqi and Iranian artists remember the 1980-1988 war.
Originally scheduled to open November 1, 2014, the exhibition opens with a reception for the artists on November 21, and runs through December 31, 2014. War and People is a featured exhibition in the LA Islam Arts Initiative.
A related program, "Poets on War and People" takes place Dec. 4, 2014. More info here.
Curator Jordan Elgrably is a writer/editor and producer, who has presented dozens of art exhibitions, concerts, literary programs, and theatre, film, and public conversations on the cultures of the Middle East and North Africa.
The Inside/Outside Gallery is pleased to present the first American solo show for Egyptian master painter Mohamed Khedr, featuring 40 works on canvas and paper, Oct 4-Oct.26, 2014, with an extended closing reception on Sunday, Nov. 16, 5-7 pm, at 5998 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90035.
Regular gallery hours are Monday through Friday 10 am-6 pm, and Sat/Sun by appointment only, 310.657.5511. The work is also on view evenings during scheduled events, on Nov. 5 and 6.
In this series, Mohamed Khedr marries impressionism techniques with his expressionist interpretations to capture emotion, sound, and scents in a way that other artists have rarely attempted. When you look at the paintings, you don't just see a magnificent use of color and talent, you are also transported into the scene where you can feel the wind, hear the commotion, smell the environment.
Fast Forward, Arabic & Iranian Typography: A New Visual Vocabulary in the Making
[LOS ANGELES-May 29, 2014] From a design perspective, what do we really know about the Arab world, or Iraq's neighbor, Iran? A window into these cultures, which use the Arabic script for writing and design, will open here in Los Angeles on June 26, 2014, when LOCAL NOT LOCAL, a modern collection of contemporary expression, brings Arabic and Iranian typography and calligraphy to the Inside/Outside Gallery at the Levantine Cultural Center. These days it seems like everyone's got a favorite font and a philosophy of typography. But it's not just our Roman alphabet that gets translated into different shapes - all over the world, designers pick and choose scripts to suit the occasion. In LOCAL NOT LOCAL, co-curators Maece Seirafi and Pouya Jahanshahi present a collection of award-winning Arab and Iranian designers who demonstrate the creative possibilities and expressions that lurk in their native alphabets.
"The map is not the territory," a phrase coined by Alfred Korzybski, is the lesser-known counterpart to Magritte's charming "This is not a pipe." Unlike "This is not a pipe"—an image that has been rendered safe by multiple reproductions and parodies, by now of little relevance unless you are an Art History major—the phrase "the map is not the territory" is charged with political and cultural meaning of the most subversive sort. This meaning inspires the upcoming exhibit at the Inside/Outside Gallery, Levantine Cultural Center, curated by Jennifer Heath and Dagmar Painter. Go to exhibition page.
"The map is not the territory," a phrase coined by Alfred Korzybski, is the lesser-known counterpart to Magritte's charming "This is not a pipe." Unlike "This is not a pipe"—an image that has been rendered safe by multiple reproductions and parodies, by now of little relevance unless you are an Art History major—the phrase "the map is not the territory" is charged with political and cultural meaning of the most subversive sort. This meaning inspires the upcoming exhibit at the Inside/Outside Gallery, Levantine Cultural Center, conceived by Jennifer Heath and co-curated by Heath and Dagmar Painter.
One land, divided by walls and nomenclature like "annexed," "territory," "Manifest Destiny," until it is in bloody fragments. One people, divided by one thing, and then another, until they can barely recognize their own kin. Like blown dandelion seeds, people venturing out from their homeland, only to find themselves always looking backwards, and wondering how to retrace their steps. Such are the images and anxieties at the heart of The Map is Not the Territory: Parallel Paths—Palestinians, Native Americans, Irish.
In 66 works by 37 artists, The Map Is Not the Territory looks at relationships and commonalities in Palestinian, Native American, and Irish experiences of invasion, occupation, and colonization—not as novelty or polemic, but as history and current events. Although many peoples worldwide have suffered long and often brutal intrusions, Palestinians, Native Americans and the Irish have intersected for centuries in specific and often unusual ways. What are some of these intersections and how do contemporary artists examine and process them through their own lives and visions? The Map Is Not the Territory opened in 2013 at The Jerusalem Fund Gallery Al-Quds in Washington, D.C.—the first stop for this five-year traveling art exhibition, 2013-2018. See a Washington Post review of the show.
To help sponsor this exhibition, contact 310.657.5511, or contribute here.
Two American filmmakers/artists talk about the challenges and rewards of making films about women living their daily lives in Cairo and Damascus. Each of the films, made in very different styles, chronicle a period right before Egypt and Syria were gripped by revolutionary turmoil. Short clips from each film will be shown in advance of the discussion. The participants include artist Judith Barry on Cairo Stories (Egypt) (info-duration) and director Julia Meltzer on The Light in Her Eyes (Syria, Info-duration, co-directed with Laura Nix), with moderator Sarah Gualtieri, author of Between Arab and White: Race and Ethnicity in the Early Syrian American Diaspora and Director of the Middle East Studies Program at USC. Seating is limited, tickets are $15, $10 students/members. Watch The Light in Her Eyes trailer here.