Monday, 31 January 2011

What to wear on a revolution - Amani Massoud

What to Wear on A Revolution - Amani Massoud  LINK

Shake the standards, write with wit, and get a reality check on what is happening in the streets of Cairo. A new web portal / blog "Mashaallah" recently activated, publishes quality, journalistic reports.
Amani Massoud starts off the revolution with a cynic's perspective. She accounts as someone who would like to continue life as usual and yet is compelled to participate in something bigger than her. "Accordingly, I left home that day with very little expectations, determined not to take part in what I had already decided was a failure," she says, "Two layers, of not so loosely fitting pants, layers of light sweaters…nothing too low, and comfortable boots. That’s what I wore for the revolution. Nothing that gives way to sexual harassment or a chance to have your clothes pulled off..."
The full story is a good read to follow what's happening in the Arab world's public scene. 

And the title "what to wear on a revolution", is actually a profound question. It gives a direction in which the revolution might go. We'll see if women are participating, we'll see if their attire is one of freedom or one of restrictions, we'll see if women will take their places in times of change.

If the fires catches up and the wind blows beyond borders, fashion could be a good measure of where it will all go...

Mashaallah blog

Saturday, 29 January 2011

"Power point makes us stupid" - Franck Frommer

The word is out since the US military is strategically thinking of  Power Point's (ppt)  impact on winning or loosing a battle. (see NY Times article)
In France, Franck Frommer, a former journalist and a specialist in communication, has been studying the matter closely for the past two years and produced a well documented research. He says ppt is a good tool to make many presentations, but why has the world of communication been highjacked by powerpoint and the only way to communicate and present any idea has to go through that box?
He is surprised at how the whole world is thinking now in slides, one thought per slide, with limited visuals. His worry is the lack of creativity in the process. He defines thinking through Powerpoint as intelectual poverty.
Food for thought: do you feel that ppt is making you stupid?

link to Entrecom's blog in french

link NY Times

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Oleg Grabar

Oleg Grabar passed away on January 8th, 2011. On the review of the Aga Khan's architecture awards, this blog had not mentioned the Chairman's award given to Grabar as a tribute to his work on Islamic art and architecture. 
In his speech in Doha for the awards, and as his last public appearance, he says :

" It is with much pride and gratitude that I have accepted the Chairman’s Award from the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, following Hassan Fathy, Rifat Chaderji, and Sir Geoffrey Bawa. It is an honor to join such a distinguished company and, even more so, to be the first one who is not an architect nor a planner, not even a decision-maker (...) but an academic scholar and teacher who has spent his life in universities and research institutes learning and then transmitting to others, in lectures, seminars, and writing whatever I had learned and understood. And it is with these two themes of knowledge and of education that my remarks will deal.
These are all developments that could have made all of us richer and more sophisticated in our understanding of the vast Muslim world. But have they done so? Not always. In a paradoxical way, they have strengthened parochialism, because few thinkers, practitioners or generalists are really involved in imagining what Morocco, Uzbekistan, or Malaysia have in common. It has become easier to firm up one’s own rather than to drown it with too much parallel information. This development is clearly tied to the rise of local nationalisms of all sorts and may not subside, but national passions are so tragically inbred in men and women that I can only hope that the global humanism I wish to preach is not a dream. Then, the rise of violent extremism among Muslims and a destructive and senseless response among non-Muslims have led, for our academic and practical purposes, to an almost paranoiac concern for security and to restrictions on travel or on exchanges of all sorts which are harmful to the growth, even the maintenance, of learned connections and of a fruitful knowledge. Behind both extremism and the response to it lies a profound ignorance of everything, from the interpretation of religious texts and awareness of history to the beliefs and motivations of others than ourselves.
These are all rather frightening prospects, especially when it is so easy to draw a vision of a rich and productive future, in which local creativity can enhance the lives of all men and women and become known to all of them, from financial or political leaders to schoolchildren. People of my age will not know whether this vision will ever become real, but we all know that those here and elsewhere who are under fifty have an exciting challenge ahead of them, and, thanks to the Aga Khan Award and to a number of parallel institutions, one or more vehicle to meet that challenge."

Those under fifty, (or just around fifty...) do hear out the wise man in his wishes: "you have an exciting challenge ahead of you... "
the "global humanism" has been dreamt of  and can be achieve, here and right now, by those who hold the future in their hands...

Friday, 21 January 2011

Kite flying in Kuwait

Did you ever hear the swooshing sound of the wind in a large kite?
On a crisp clear day, kite flyers of Kuwait gather at the Messilah beach and enjoy the art of flying kites.
They bring their treasures with ropes, weights and spend the day on the beach for the pleasure of a floating experience, eyes on the sky.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Yuka Kadoi- China/Iran interaction during the Moghul period

At the Dar al Athar al Islamiyah on the 12th of january 2011, in a surprise, unscheduled lecture, Dr. Yuka Kadoi gave a talk on the interaction between Iran and China during the Moghuls period in the 13th c. ad.
In a poised manner, she introduced many flamboyant ideas about art and history.
She covered many areas and objects from ceramics, to metal works, to miniatures. She, then, showed the evolution of the artisan's works and influences form China, through the Moghuls. She also stated that China, being as conservative as they were could not have been influenced by Persian artists. She compared europeans of that period being only on a one way mouvement and islamic chinoiserie being a fruitful admiration with fundamental interactions.  She tried to question the reason of having a lotus flower in the decoration of a metal bowl in Iran under the Moghuls when in China, lotus is a symbol of Buddhism. She showed pictures of figural images in manuscript, how before the Moghul invasion they were two dimensional and after the Moghuls, they had perspective, depth, and a better feel of space and height.
It is quite a narrow angle of looking at history.
But she added that interaction were limitless when the trade flourished through the silk road or maritime routes for a long time. She said that ideas did move, and there has been an interaction from east to west before the invasion of Iran by the Moghuls. Nomadic people, skilled artisans moved across borders and frontiers, and they brought with them teachings without restriction.
She also stressed on the need to enlarge the definition of Islamic Art, since it is not only one style and one block, and fade away from the obsession to find one absolute version of islamic art.
She talked about paper trading from China at that time and how that trade had influenced a much larger and wider production of manuscripts.
Are we not still trying to understand the impact of trading with China on our culture and art? are we not still trying to define islamic art in an absolute, pure term or rather in a contemporary, interactive way?
Debates are open and scholars help us search for answers.

Friday, 14 January 2011

A photographer in the Sartorialist

The sartorialist:
(definition of "sartorial": adjective: of or relating to tailoring, cloths, style of dress: sartorial elegance)
A photographer, Scott Schumann, is interested in fashion, cloth and people who carry well what they wear. He takes photos on the streets of New York, Milan or Paris. He also takes photos of highly visible and known people in the fashion industry. He shows his works on a blog: The sartorialist.
Up to that point, it all seems pretty typical of anyone who has a passion and exhibits his views on the web through a blog.

In that video though, there is one fascinating attribute: the look on his eyes. Schumann is metamorphosed when released in the wilderness.
He becomes a tracker, he maneuvers as a hunter, he detects details, he identifies a look, he spots grace, he catches a style, he captures the effort of refinement.
Then, quickly, in a few seconds, it's over: pictures are taken and he's back on the tracking lane, without respite. Everything, everyone can become a prey.
And he remains an agile hunter, moving, determined to track, no matter how many images are in his memory card, or his actual physical memory. There is no end to it.

link to the sartorialist

Monday, 10 January 2011

Monet in Paris

"La Pie" - Monet - Musee d'Orsay - Paris
Monet is a classic in Paris, or for a visit to his house outside Paris in Giverny.
A huge retrospective of his works will be shown at the Grand Palais until the 24th of jan 2011.
It is a delight and pleasure.
But if you can't make it, do consult the website for the exhibit: it is as pleasant as his work, and a real treat to browse through.
link to website

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Bulgari - Italian Jewelry at the Grand Palais, Paris

photos by Bulgari for the exhibition

Bulgari carries 125 years of finest jewelry making. An exhibition at Grand Palais in Paris until the 12th of january 2011, shows archived pieces of Bulgari but also privately owned pieces that could not be exhibited otherwise.
If you have any interest in the art of jewelry, do not miss an opportunity to see how it was made historically and how it has evolved through new technologies and the market's demands and desires.
Bulgari remains a symbol of class and good craftsmanship.
link to the Grand Palais

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Basquiat at the Museum of modern art in Paris

photos by the Museum of Modern Art, Paris

Museum of Modern art in Paris is showing a retrospective of works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, of haitian and porto rican descent, who lived in New York in the Golden Age of clubbing, graffiti, street art, and pushing limits.
He became a star of the wild expressionism or "neo-expressionism" wave that countered the minimalism and conceptual art in the USA.
Prolific in his works, as if constantly urged to produce, he never doubted his being as an artist. He did not bend into a style or a trend. He just painted in the rawest manner, without obvious skills.
it came out unrestrained, spontaneous.
Subjects were deep, painful, violent.
He started as a graffiti artist in the streets of New York signing under the name of SAMO (same old shit). Galleries recognized his potential, collectors started buying.
He made a collective work with Andy Warhol, the association produced interesting pieces. Although they shared a lot of similarities, Warhol had a plastic aesthetic side to his work that did not necessarily match the violent, naked self expression of Basquiat.
He died at 28 years old.
Short existence for an artist.
But the retrospective is a great overview of his work.
If you're in Paris by the 30th jan 2011, don't miss the show.

link to the Museum of Modern Art

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Satish Kumar - You are therefore I am

Satish Kumar is of Indian origin. His works are mainely oriented towards a holistic life, from economics, to nature, to earth, to people, to respect and connect.

He believes that Descartes in his:"I think therefore I am" has placed the ego at the motor of the human being and established a dangerous dualism. He says this solitary consciousness has made the western man alone, thinking that animals are without spirit so he killed them; that he was superior to others so he colonized them, that he produced guns and war machines to put everyone under the fear of terror, that he destroyed many ecosystems until he realized he lived in it. (le monde magazine extracts)

He says in some of his interviews:
"I became a Jain monk at the age of nine. I came across Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography when I was eighteen. I understood that religion, spirituality and the world should not be placed in separate compartments. Sadhus or monks usually take abode in caves or mountains, giving the impression that spirituality is only for those at a higher plane.
Gandhi said that this kind of dualism is not right. We must incorporate spirituality in e veryday life. When I read that message, I felt I could no longer be a monk."

"Gandhi, Vinoba and Schumacher saw a beautiful, cohesive world. Human beings need to learn from Nature and live in harmony with Nature. The problem is not poverty, but affluence. We do not need to alleviate poverty, we need to alleviate affluence.
The word 'poverty' has been hijacked and corrupted. It originally meant 'voluntary simplicity'. In Gandhian terminology, being poor is better than being rich. He lived simply in a hut made of mud, bamboo and grass.
Today, a successful economy means more. Whereas Gandhi, Vinoba and Schumacher say: "Enough! Where is sufficiency?'
from Life positive, interview

These are my wishes for a bright new year 2011 in the Arab world:
"You are therefore I am"
thank you for reading my blog