The Bidoun Library

The Bidoun Library, founded in 2009 by Bidoun Projects, is a mobile library consisting of books, magazines and other printed matter.

Since the turn of the last century, the term “Middle East,” which was coined in the West, has existed more as a subject for discussion and study than a geographical area. Bidoun Library is an attempt to survey this territory through its printed matter. Books, magazines and other materials are treated as objects in which complex and historical facts and ambitions meet. They are not amongst the most representative or refined objects from the Middle East—they are cheaper and more perishable. Bidoun Library acquires a new form everywhere it stops.

Bidoun Library at Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm

January 12 – June 30, 2012

The Bidoun Library opens on January 12th at Tensta Konsthall’s new space in Sweden. The Library is a long-term project surveying the territory of the Middle East through its printed matter —objects in which complex and historical facts and ambitions meet.

Bidoun Library at the Serpentine Gallery, London

July 12 – September 17, 2011

While in London, the Library addressed two pivotal world events, each of which has launched thousands of cheap publications onto the market: the revolution in Egypt and the de-accessioning of British public libraries. To coincide with the production of Bidoun magazine’s summer issue, the Library has attempted to collect every book printed, and every newspaper and periodical founded, since the Egyptian revolution of 25th January 2011 — from cheap novellas about the last days of Hosni Mubarak, to teen magazines and previously-banned political treatises. This material, along with publications found in London during Bidoun’s residency on the Edgware Road, were placed amongst the Library’s eclectic catalogue of comic books, children’s films and political treatises.

A series of public talks, screenings, and a shaabi Egyptian dance party/wedding in the Serpentine Pavilion were also held through Bidoun’s residency. Speakers included Hisham Matar, Nawal El Saadawi, Ahdaf Soueif, Sonallah Ibrahim, Slavs and Tatars, and more.

Bidoun Library at the Townhouse Gallery, Cairo

October 12 – November 24, 2010

From October 12th to November 24th, the Bidoun Library and Project Space were hosted by the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo. Contemporaneous with the library was a symposium devoted to archival practices, “Speak, Memory,” which brought together photographer Susan Meiselas, members of the collective, Claire Hsu of the Asia Art Archive, Negar Azimi and Yasmine Eid Sabbagh of the Arab Image Foundation, Vasif Kortun of Platform Garanti in Istanbul, and many others. As part of Bidoun’s program, the Bidoun Library hosted talks by historian Khaled Fahmy and curator Bassem El-Baroni, co-founder of the Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum and co-curator of Manifesta 8. The Bidoun program is curated by Contributing Editor Hassan Khan.

Bidoun Library at the New Museum, New York

August 4 — September 26, 2010

The Bidoun Library Project at the New Museum was a highly partial account of five decades of printed matter in, near, about, and around the Middle East. Arrayed along these shelves were pulp fictions and propaganda, monographs and guidebooks, and pamphlets and periodicals, on subjects ranging from the oil boom to the Dubai bust, the Cold War to the hot pant, Pan-Arabs to Black Muslims, revolutionaries to royals, and Orientalism to its opposites.

Bidoun Library at 98 Weeks, Beirut

April 17 – May 15, 2010

The third appearance of the library coincides with the launch of 98 Weeks’ new research project on avant-garde journals and popular magazines stemming from moments of modernity in the Arab world. 98 Weeks’ collection of publications will be on permanent display at the 98 Weeks Project Space.

Bidoun Library, Abu Dhabi and Dubai

The Bidoun Library had its first outing at Abu Dhabi Art (November 2009) as a collection of books, catalogs, journals, and ephemera that trace contemporary art practices as well as the evolution of the various art scenes of the Middle East. This peripatetic resource then traveled to Art Dubai (March 2010).