Thursday, 25 August 2011

Life with Saddam: the book

"My life with Saddam" by Parisoula Lampsos and the journalist Lena Katarina Swanberg was published in the spring 2010 in Sweden. Written locally in Swedish, the book was reviewed by the major western newspaper and rights for a translation were sold to many countries in the West. The closest to the Arab world is Turkey who bought rights to translate it and publish it.
There is always controversy on veracity and authenticity in a story that is hard to verify by other sources. But the value of such a story is to read a way of life that is quite close to Saddam and his sons. It could be field under the Historic/fiction genre.
The question is why hasn't it been translated in Arabic for a wider and more concerned public?
Today in the Arab World, where dictators have a hard chance of long term, future plans; it might be a good idea to reflect on recent history and remember what was life like under them. The value of attachement to history is not a question of emotional memories, but rather a medicine to create a cleaner future without follies of the past.

link to the publishing agent

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Rise Planet of the apes / movie

For those born before 1963, the book "planet of the Apes" by the the french writer Pierre Boulle is the first exploration into the world of apes controlling humans and the injustice seen from another perspective. Then movies, Tv series have been produced, shown in theatres, seen by so many and engraved in the collective unconsciousness. How would we feel if we were the one trapped in the victim's seat?
In the sixties, the racial struggle between black and white in the USA was at it's peak. Today, they have a colored president. That looks like evolution on that front.

We, in the Arab world, should welcome such a movie in force. The Arab world is living revolutionary winters, freedom springs, bloody summers and uncertain autumn, with a common weather forecast of "down with the dictatorships".
The underprivileged need more than despair to move forward. They need that sparkle in the eye that means: yes we can!
In the Arab world, there are many dark areas of injustice and inequality. Women could take a forward stand and be more forceful than just driving in Saudi Arabia. Religious monopoly reduces minorities to hide and lie. And on and on...
One wish for this movie is to be shown without censorship!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Post it war in Paris

The post-it war in Paris is raging. In the corporate world of offices, it started with an employee who leashed her creativity and made a video game hero on her window with post-it notes. The Bank across could not stay idle and riposted with another video game hero. And it is all over Paris, its suburbs and going beyond!
It has been going for a few month.
Who said one cannot break the chains of monotony with whatever is available around?

Post-it war link to more photos

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Moleskine Notebook exhibition in Paris


"Moleskina Contamina" interprétation de l'artiste portugaise Joana Vasconcelos 

At the Bon Marché, in Paris, Moleskine is presenting an exhibition: artists and their notebook. An inspiration in creating within a small scale, sketches and artwork.
Moleskine has a vested interest in presenting its product beyond the iron curtain of intimate, personal space. It is also promoting an important form of art: sketching, playing, changing the tool into beauty.
With a view on what artists do with their notebook, it gives also a closer look to to a work in progress, to spontaneity in the process. Exhibition until the 25th of August 2011

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Goldbeater, a lost tradition

Goldbeater for five generations, Dauvet is the last one in France. Competition comes fromt he far east, with a few goldbeater makers of the fine thin sheet of gold. But Mr Dauvet has a feeling of a unique art, transmitted to him by his parents, that he holds in his hands and wonders if he will be able to pass it on to his son. A knowhow with tools and machines that seem like a lost tradition, a passion against all modern waves, a pride of production.
Dauvet has on his trophy his gold leaves for the Invalides'dome, the statue of liberty's flame and many others.

Dauvet website link

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Creative Spaces - Beirut

Creative Spaces in Beirut is an outstanding effort from a Lebanese graduate, Sarah Hermez, who decided to contribute in lives of others who could not go as far as she did.
Coming back home after studies at the New School, Parsons in New York, and a few trips in emerging countries such as India and Cambodia, she established herself in Beirut and wanted to share her knowledge.
Against all odds, she took her professor's offer, Ms Caroline Shlala-Simonelli, a lebanese american, expert in fashion making. She looked for a place in Lebanon, gathered students, fundraised all of the above. And it all started.
A two month course in learning: from the very beginning in finding ideas, looking for creativity, until the end product: a exhibition on the 17 until the 19 th of August 2011 in their atelier.
With the precious help of Ms Caroline, the whole process is spreading quality, precise tools and knowledge. It is about sharing a passion.

if you're in Lebanon do not miss the event!

creative space's website link

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Jassim al Nashmi and Pete Goché at Iowa State University

The opportunity of creativity given to a Kuwaiti Student at Iowa State University: Jassim al Nashmi has the incredible opportunity to travel outside his country, study abroad, learn in the best of the situations. He is at Iowa State University in the USA and wanted to work with an architecture professor and practising architect, Pete Gouché. 
The story goes as follow: 
"I decided to do an independent study with a professor I liked, but did not know what to study exactly. He suggested a course he had designed called Ritual Stations: simply put, you are to pick a domestic ritual that you practice by yourself or with your family and explore it, the end result is the product of this exploration, which can be anything. I chose Muslim prayer, so I asked friends and family what prayer means to them, what kind of environment they imagine would be most comfortable to pray in, what they think about when they pray.

I decided to design a space that would be the manifestation of what I had researched. This space was to be portable, because one can pray virtually anywhere, it was to be easy to construct, because it is for anyone to use, and it was to create a space in any room of any building feel transcendental and peaceful. With the materials and techniques that were available, it seemed like a praying mat was necessary, but also something that enclosed the space but felt like there were no real boundaries, which is what prayer feels like. Using traditional Islamic ornamentation, a permeable partition wall was fabricated that serves as a divider of space; playing with light & shadow and emanating a divine aura."

For a muslim arab student, the subject is thrilling :"ritual stations". Society in Kuwait is still attached to its rituals as a matrix of identity. Jassem picks Muslim prayer, uses the traditional geometric pattern so widely seen on mosques and buildings in the Arab world, and opts for a mat for the use of three adult males as he says "so my dad would pray in front of us and the 3 of us (my 2 brothers and I) would pray side by side."
This all looks like a repetition of what is traditionally available. 
But Jassem goes a bit further in his creative process and decides to twist a bit the traditions: he thinks about portability, about simplicity, about availability. He wants to create a place of prayer without clutter and without external input. 

It is a good trial for a young student in his capacity to encounter creativity. His challenge was surely to talk about a subject that is generally seen in the US as a symbol of terrorism. But did he really push himself to the limits of creativity?
What did his professor, Pete Gouché, consider for the project's evaluation?
Jassem says: "he was interested in our perceptions of our rituals and he wanted to help us explore them, he is a very humble man so he sees a lot that other professors don't see; he actually learns from his students. " 
The student must have learned the necessity to learn from others, beside professors, as the true way to connect with others.

The real question here is whether the student, with his exposure, could come back home and continue to explore the matter with full thrust. Will he be able to push his environment's limits and persist in creativity no matter what his peers' reactions are?
Will he think of integration rather than segregation? Will he feel at home with the whole world rather than an identification to country or nationality?

It is Kuwait greatest asset, beside Oil: young students learning outside and coming back home. It brings in change a step at a time, silently, slowly, without much violent or repression. 

Pete Gouché's website link

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Modern Architecture for a Church in Munich

Herz Jesu Church in Munich is of interest in modern architecture,  a prayer hall with a combination of space, light, steel, glass, wood and the multiple levels of christian symbols.
Allmann Sattler Wappner Architects won the competition for the Church and they used all contemporary tools to bring into life a place for prayer with a facade of glass that opens up entirely as doors to welcome all. The glass throughout the building is used in different grades of transparency to opacity closer to the altar as a degrees of light in the church. With simplicity in its interior and exterior, light becomes the only revolving effect.
With only a few constraints of use, the building is an example of how prayer places can adapt to the needs of the moments, reflect the era when it is built, remove the pretense of historic gimmicks.
The same location has had two previous churches that were burn down, one by war, the other by accident. Hopefully it will survive a few generation to carry the architectural message through.

link to the architects' web site