Part lyrical essay, part pulp fiction, Noam Toran’s new column is a serial narrative annotated by images and GIFs, that speaks of the problematic imprinting of Western mythologies and imaginaries onto the desert landscape. Drawing from the cultural, ecological, and imperial conditions of the American Southwest where he was born, Toran intersects personal and family experiences with longer and larger histories, hopping across time periods and genres, from 16th century Spanish expeditions to the paranoid atmospheres of the 1970s, and from science fiction to horror-comedy.
Ammar al-Beik’s film The Sun’s Incubator offers a destabilizing, non-linear view of the Arab revolutions from a domestic setting. Margherita Foresti analyses the film’s complex temporality, manifested mainly through the motif of the TV screen.
“It’s often Terrorist 1, Terrorist 2, Terrorist 3, and for women it’s even worse.” Matt Hanson talks to Dr. Ruth Priscilla Kirstein, the founder of The Middle East Film Initiative in NYC, about discriminatory practices towards and lack of representation of Middle Eastern cultural practitioners, and about some new community-based methods offered by MEFI for addressing them.
“In Esperia, a portrait of a forgotten artist and a former secret service agent is interlaced with a personal narrative depicting the filmmaker’s relationship with her fading grandfather.” Hakim Bishara reviews Haidi Motola’s new film revealing her grandfather Jacques Motola’s double identity as an Israeli painter and secret service agent in Egypt.
Moving across New York and San Francisco, Paris and Munich, Accra and Lagos, artist and scholar Malik Gaines’s Black Performance on the Outskirts of the Left: A History of the Impossible offers a lively and affirmative account of stage, dress, film and television, and music performance. Saadi Nikro reviews Gaines’s recently published book, discussing its many intersections of race, theatricality, subjectivity, and sexuality.
The third and final part of the essay by Noah Simblist focuses on Akram Zaatari’s use of dialogical exchange as an artistic strategy. While completely different in their dynamics and outcomes, Zaatari’s conversations with both Hagai Tamir and Avi Mograbi, he argues, reveal different degrees of both personal and political engagement and, at the same time, various forms of antagonism and refusal.
In the second part of his essay analysing Akram Zaatari’s 2013 work “Letter to a Refusing Pilot,” Noah Simblist addresses a previous work by the artist that involved a conversation with filmmaker Avi Mograbi. Simblist is reading this work through the prism of dialogical exchange, referencing Grant Kester’s definition of “dialogical art,” as well as Ella Shohat’s observations on the identity politics of Mizrachi or Arab Jews.
In a tale full of suspense, surveillence, interrogation, secret meetings, and covert conversations, artist Tea Tupajić describes the 2-year process of devising a new performance work in Tel Aviv, which involved Mossad and Shin Bet officers. A new essay in Tohu Magazine: we recommend reading it in one sitting.