"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.
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: Palestinian, Native American, Irish.
In 66 works by 39 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? Co-curated by Jennifer Heath and Dagmar Painter, The Map Is Not the Territory opened 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.
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.
This Sunday at 6 pm, join a community passionate about peace and human rights, interested in exploring viable solutions to the indefatigable Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
On Saturday, April 12th, we invite you to participate in an exclusive evening with Lebanese novelist Rabih Alameddine. The program features a delicious dinner and a book reading and conversation. From the author of the international bestseller The Hakawati (The Storyteller) comes an enchanting story of a book-loving, obsessive, seventy-two-year-old "unnecessary" woman with a past shaped by the Lebanese Civil War. Writes the New York Times, "An Unnecessary Woman is a meditation on, among other things, aging, politics, literature, loneliness, grief and resilience. If there are flaws to this beautiful and absorbing novel, they are not readily apparent." Michele Leber in Booklist notes, "Studded with quotations and succinct observations, this remarkable novel by Alameddine is a paean to fiction, poetry, and female friendship. Dip into it, make a reading list from it, or simply bask in its sharp, smart prose."
One of Arab literature's most celebrated voices, Rabih Alameddine follows his bestseller, The Hakawati, and his previous novels I, the Divine and Koolaids with a novel that celebrates the singular life of an obsessive introvert, revealing Beirut's beauties and horrors along the way. Notes National Public Radio, "I can't remember the last time I was so gripped simply by a novel's voice. Alameddine makes it clear that a sheltered life is not necessarily a shuttered one. Aaliya is thoughtful, she's complex, she's humorous and critical."
General seating for this dinner event is $25 ($20 LCC members), or $50 with a signed copy of An Unnecessary Woman. Dinner includes mezze, main course and soft drink/water, coffee or tea. Seating is limited and advance reservations are strongly advised. Call 323.413.2001 or book online.
An evening at the Levantine Cultural Center explores Pakistan and Pakistani-American identity, with special guest Shahan Mufti, author of the new book The Faithful Scribe: A Story of Islam, Pakistan, Family, and War. Joining Shahan Mufti in conversation are two other American artists born in Pakistan, actor/writer and comedienne Mona Shaikh and painter/animator and writer Adnan Hussain. After Shahan Mufti presents his book on Pakistan, the three young Pakistani Americans will engage in a free-ranging conversation on politics, immigration, identity and the arts. Everyone is welcome and a Q & A with the audience will ensue.
About The Faithful Scribe former US Ambassador to Pakistan Ryan Crocker has written, "If you want to understand Pakistan and the Pakistani-American relationship, read this book." Lesley Hazleton, author of The First Muslim and After The Prophet, writes, "After reading Shahan Mufti, a political junkie like me feels as though she's begun to understand Pakistan for the first time. Movingly and compellingly written, The Faithful Scribe is invaluable reading for anyone who's ever asked 'What's really happening there?'" The New Yorker notes that Mufti's "talent for explaining the political through the personal—particularly the 'tormented embrace' between his home countries—benefits from the uncanny convergence of his family's milestones with Pakistan's."
On Thurs., Jan. 16, Bernard Radfar, author of the satirical epistolary collection Insincerely Yours, Letters From a Prankster, and now the novel, Mecca Pimp, a Novel of Love and Human Trafficking, will be in conversation live at the Levantine Cultural Center with serial interviewer Jordan Elgrably (James Baldwin, Milan Kundera, Nadine Gordimer, Harold Brodkey, Gilbert Sorrentino, Amy Tan, Edward Said et al), discussing the characters and situations in Mecca Pimp, in which the fictional Mary and Mark Black run a human trafficking empire in Saudi Arabia until Mary jets off to New York City. Whether their love endures is the subject of the novel.
We are raising funds for our project "Heroes of the Middle East & North Africa." This initiative proposes to create a large mural depicting cultural icons such as Rumi, Khalil Gibran, Fairuz, Naguib Mahfouz and other poets, writers, filmmakers, musicians and artists who are symbols of peace through the arts.
The "Heroes" mural is an educational experience and an anti-war statement that intends to humanize the Middle East and North Africa, following on the heels of the Arab Spring. The mural will be completed early in 2014 and will grace the wall of the Levantine Cultural Center in Los Angeles.
Israeli American activist and author Miko Peled has toured widely presenting his book The General's Son: the Journey of an Israeli in Palestine. Dr. Laila Al-Marayati is a Palestinian American physician and activist with KinderUSA. They join in public conversation on the Israel-Palestine question at the Levantine Cultural Center on Thursday, Nov. 21, 7:00 pm. The program is cosponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace-LA. Everyone is invited to participate. Enjoy food/drink in our Café Rumi.
Writes Alice Walker in her foreword:
"There are few books on the Israel/Palestine issue that seem as hopeful as this one. First of all, we find ourselves in the hands of a formerly Zionist Iraeli who honors his people, loves his homeland, respects and cherishes his parents, other family members and friends, and is, to boot, the son of a famous general whose activities during Israel's wars against the Palestinian people helped cause much of their dislocation and suffering. Added to this, long after Miko Peled, the writer, has left the Special Forces of the Israeli army and moved to Southern California to teach karate, a beloved niece, Smadar, a young citizen of Jerusalem, is killed by Palestinians in a suicide bombing. Right away we think: Goodness. How is he ever going to get anywhere sane with this history? He does."
On Wed., Nov. 6, investigative journalist Max Blumenthal and activist Hamid Khan will discuss "LAPD Spying: Civil Liberties, Homeland Security, and the Israel Connection" in a public forum in the Progressive Conversations on Israel/Palestine and US Middle East Foreign Policy series. The program takes place at the Levantine Cultural Center.
As Dan Bluemel notes, "The federal government has been busy since the passing of the Patriot Act in 2001. Edward Snowden, an NSA whistle-blower, recently revealed that the NSA has been secretly storing vast amounts of digital information collected from millions of Americans' cell phone calls and Internet communications. Thanks to Snowden, citizens now have a much better idea of how busy their spy agencies have been, and who they have been targeting. However, one group, the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, is trying to alert people in Los Angeles to the fact that domestic spying doesn't just happen at NSA headquarters in Maryland. Spying is local too, they say, and we can look no further than the Los Angeles Police Department."
"A truly incredible story," says Ira Glass of This American Life. Kirk Johnson is the author of To Be a Friend Is Fatal: The Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind, a moving, hard-hitting book about the plight of Iraqis who worked—often as interpreters—with the US Army and its affiliates. A memoir and a call to action, the book details his work in Iraq and his struggle to rescue the Iraqis who risked their lives to help rebuild the country, only to be branded collaborators and marked for assassination after being abandoned by the US.
Writing in the Boston Globe, Rayyan Al-Shawaf notes, "Part memoir, part impassioned plea, Johnson's book traces his experiences in Iraq, his personal breakdown, and his struggle to rescue the legions of young, idealistic Iraqis left behind by US administrations plagued by post-9/11 paranoia and gridlock. Because militants continue to kill such people despite the US withdrawal, it is difficult to imagine a book more urgent than this."
Johnson will discuss his book and his organization, The List Project to resettle Iraqi allies. This event is a benefit for the Los Angeles Review of Books and the Levantine Cultural Center, two nonprofits that champion literacy. More.