Nour Festival in London Features Middle East Visual and Performing Art 20 October Through 6 November

arab-puppet-theatre-foundation_catching-the-ball-image-1-lama-chidiac
The Arab Puppet Theatre Foundation

Those lucky enough to be in London right now will enjoy a spectacular treasure trove of culture from the Middle East. Each year the city hosts the Nour Festival featuring visual art, literature, music, and performance — this year, from fifteen countries. Appropriately, the themes of this year’s festival focus on topics of displacement and conflicted identity as millions of people are driven from homelands by war forcing them into exile and causing them to face challenges that migration brings. read more

Israeli-Palestinian Musicians of Heartbeat Take Aim at the Mechanisms of Segregation

The important thing to know about Heartbeat is that it is an educational instrument for changing the dynamic between Israeli and Palestinian inequality using creative communication, its vehicle being music. By choosing music — an art form that is, hands down, the most widely distributed, universal, and addictive of cultural art forms — the lessons propagated through Heartbeat’s curriculum lead its Israeli and Palestinian youth participants on a path that diverges from socially conditioned confrontation to creative partnership by demanding equality toward fellow musicians and devotion to making music. read more

Western Art Roaming Syrian Destruction: Tammam Azzam Overlays Classic Vignettes Atop Catastrophic Images

The Syrian Museum: Mona Lisa
The Syrian Museum: Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa looks passively content at us as though the annihilated buildings behind her are part of a snap shot she asks locals to take of her before her vacation ends and she returns to Paris. Within moments she’ll post them on Facebook or Instagram and mention what a wild place Syria can be. When seen through a media lens, images of catastrophe, especially after five-plus long years of catastrophic images coming from Syria, bear a similar ongoing dreariness. We’ve seen image after image of blown up buildings and carnage on social media and news, and each iteration becomes more like the previous and the previous before that. Interrupt this unrelenting parade of mayhem with the intrusion of excerpts of famous classic Western art, and suddenly the rubble and the calamity are freshened up significantly as is our repulse to them. read more

Graffiti in the Middle East: Giving Up Personal Identity for the Sake of Social Justice

A slain revolutionist with her or his living counterpart on a wall near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt
A slain revolutionist with her or his living counterpart on a wall near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt

Graffiti was, at one time, unauthorized written or illustrated messages placed in public places using a variety of art materials that facilitated speedy application for the graffiti author. Speed was important, of course, because the author-artist had only a small window of opportunity to paint without being apprehended. Now, however, unauthorized graffiti has given birth to a highly sophisticated authorized art form, and it has changed from an on-the-run public nuisance to a highly respected and sought-after public space art genre, especially in urban areas where graffiti artists can attain significant popularity and media presence. Yet for artists in politically-challenged areas of the world who use graffiti to graphically chronicle resistance, money, public recognition and celebritydom are often forfeited to advance social justice for them and their people. read more

Nada Debs — Centuries of Arabic Motifs Resurface in Contemporary Design

Strand console

Nada Debs, a Beirut-based furniture, home, and accessory designer uses cultural influences from at least four regions from where she has lived: Lebanon, Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom — merging them into striking product lines that might seem more appropriate coming from Milan, London, Tokyo, Paris, or New York instead of Lebanon. Yet, while her work is stylish and modern, she imposes, none-too-subtly, timeless Arabic motifs that compliment her modernist approach resulting in pieces that function outside of their original Lebanese territory into a contemporary international aesthetic. read more