A few months ago, the artist Farhad Moshiri received a curious email. “Hello, Mr. Moshiri,” it read. “I wish that you would stop producing art.” A few weeks later, an article in a prominent online arts magazine derided a body of work he showed at the Frieze Art Fair as “toys for the anaesthetized new rich.” The author, a fellow artist and gallerist, declared the assembled pieces — a series of elaborately embroidered birds sparkling in DayGlo colors, titled Fluffy Friends — “an insult to all brave Iranians who have shed their blood for more freedom.” In a final scabrous blow — it was only a few months after the contested presidential elections of 2009 and all the bloodshed that ensued — the author wrote that the artist had “amputated his Iranian heart and replaced it with a cash register.”
FORMS OF COMPENSATION is a series of 21 reproductions of iconic modern and contemporary artworks, with an emphasis on sculptures, paintings and prints by Arab and Iranian artists. The series was commissioned by Babak Radboy for Bidoun Projects and produced in Cairo by a range of craftspeople and auto mechanics in the neighborhood surrounding the Townhouse Gallery.
First comes the drone of the sci-fi supercharged tamburas, fluxing and oscillating, too high up in the mix for the bureaucrats and professors at All India Radio, way too high. It’s like the rush of a marsh on a midsummer night with a million crickets, or the howling wind stirring the power lines outside a cabin in backwoods Idaho, or the hushed roar of the stream in front of a hermit’s cave above Dehradun: see the blue-throated god lying there, recumbent and still, his eyes shut, the dangerous corpse of the Overlord waiting for the dancing feet of his bloody, love-mad consort.
On the morning of July 10, 2003, Umar Ibrahim Vadillo stood beside the whitewashed brick facade of the Mosque of Granada and looked out over the Darro River. Before him lay the ramparts of the Alhambra, where five hundred years earlier the legions of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella had completed the Reconquista of Moorish Spain. Beyond the Alhambra, Vadillo saw the shores of the eurozone, and beyond them the citadels of world finance: Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, London; the marble-floored temples where hedgefund managers, central bankers, and currency speculators paced and traded and plotted. Vadillo had been invited to Granada to celebrate the opening of the mosque, the first to be built in the city since the fall of Al-Andalus; the occasion was being marked by an ecumenical conference on the theme of “Islam in Europe.” Rather than invite some wizened imam promising to build bridges, or a conciliatory local politician, the organizers had invited Vadillo, a forty-sixyear- old convert and a bookish interpreter of the relationship between Islam and paper money, to deliver the keynote.
Sometime, in another life, in another world, he danced in the nightclubs of Khartoum. There were women, lots of them. Empires, kings, and presidents. He saw them all through the lens of a brand-new Arriflex camera. He was the only person to own one in Sudan. His name was Gadalla Gubara, and he was the father of Sudanese cinema.
Nestled in a small street north of Amirkabir University in central Tehran, Rasht 29 Art Club was once a legendary watering hole for artists. It was launched at a time when there were precious few places for artists to congregate. Although an Armenian-Iranian artist by the name of Marcos Grigorian had run the groundbreaking Gallery Esthetique from 1954 to 1960, and the Tehran Biennale had been launched in 1958, the modern art scene in Iran didn’t really take off until the late 60s. Most initiatives lasted for a few months or a couple of years, at most. And whatever they were like, gallery spaces were not gathering places, but rather, more like glorified living rooms — formal and regimented. What the Tehran scene lacked was a place to talk about art and life till the wee hours of the morning.
Work in Progress
Farida Al Sultan
Fatima Al Qadiri and Kaelen Wilson-Goldie
Photography by Jennifer Juniper Stratford, introduction by Tiffany Malakooti
H. Moossavi Khamnei
Works by Clifford Borress, Curated by Sohrab Mohebbi
Mahma Kan Althaman: “whatever the price ”
Khalid Al Gharaballi and Fatima Al Qadiri
Introduction by Hassan Kahn
Sherif El Azma, Nav Haq, Nida Ghouse, Mahmoud Khaled
The Golden Compass
Arabia on the Turkey
Adam John Waterman
Pleasure For the Eyes
Lord of the Drone
The Omega Man
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune
The Jerusalem Syndrome
Emily Speers Mears
3rd Riwaq Biennale
Manifesta Coffee Break
American Writers in Istanbul
Cairo Swan Song / Life is More Beautiful Than Paradise
Footnotes In Gaza
Freedom Rhythm & Sound
Earth of Endless Secrets
Grass : Untold Stories