Sunday, 16 November 2014

AHRC OTTOMAN COSMOPOLITANISM PROJECT

IMPACT EVENT on 29/11 at BIRKBECK COLLEGE: 

MASTERCLASS & STORYTELLING PERFORMANCE

I am very pleased to organise our next impact event which will include a masterclass  led by theorist of postmemory, Marianne Hirsch (Professor, Columbia University) and archivist/creator of aka Kurdistan, Susan Meiselas (Magnum photographer) on the topic of transmedial/transcultural Ottoman memories and a Storytelling performance and Roundtable discussion to explore the importance of oral history for displaced communities in the Middle-East.  
The performance will be by Kurdish Dengbej , Suna Alan who will sing tales from collective memories from ex-Ottoman minorities including Armenian, Kurdish and Sephardi. Dengbej, a tradition of expressing the history and struggle of its people, played a vital role in transferring oral histories to new generations.

For further information and to book via Eventbrite:
Website :   http://ottomancosmopolitanism.wordpress.com/
Twitter   :  @
Ottoman_Cosmo

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Sunday, 1 June 2014


FROM THE CITY THAT EXPLODED SLOWLY -  

Wall-Composition & Text 6 (extract):

The civil war lasted 15 years and ended with an uncertain peace. Some gave way to their desires to erase the city and the city that sparkled at night with thousands of lights was engulfed in a dark void. Each city carries an equation to transform itself: some will go through many strata of crippling history, some become missing cities while others rise vertically to become voracious forests of steel and glass.[..]

To view complete photo-text series, visit www.lesliehakimdowek.net 

 

FROM THE CITY THAT EXPLODED SLOWLY -  

Wall-Composition & Text 3 (extract):

The war started there, at the very heart of the city. There were no distant frontiers or vast battlefields on plains where battles unfolded. It was among the carts, chairs, chandeliers and ladders that it all began to dissolve. Death arrived among all that noise, and the first mutation of Beirut was by fire.[..] 
To view complete photo-text series, visit www.lesliehakimdowek.net



FROM THE CITY THAT EXPLODED SLOWLY -  

Wall-Composition & Text 2 (extract):

[..]The square was a mass of friction and noise. I often walked, endlessly, making my way through the crowd trying to elude the gaze of others. I recall the distinct feeling of being elated. This is where, slowly feeling and knowing, that my timidity started receding.


Thursday, 29 May 2014

FROM THE CITY THAT EXPLODED SLOWLY -  

Wall-Composition & Text 1:



 When I was 5, my mother took me to a large department store, called Byblos, on Martyr’s Square. She bought my first schoolbag there. I remember it well and I see myself holding it: its rubbery texture, rounded corners and black and white colours, all still tangible in my mind. People in Beirut often wondered why this store never did well despite its incessant publicity. After the war and extensive excavations, it was discovered that the store’s foundations had encroached on the very first walls of Beirut, Birut or Birayat as it was then called in 15 BC. Some people thought that was probably the reason it was jinxed.


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PIECE IN 'EAST & WEST : VISUALISING THE OTTOMAN CITY' EXHIBITION 

ABOUT THE CITY THAT EXPLODED SLOWLY (PHOTO-TEXT SERIES):

 

War and wilderness are often there in my work and sometimes converge more closely, as in the series The City That Exploded Slowly, because stories of warfare and of our abuse of the environment stem both from man’s struggle to control, tame and own the wilderness. My
art practice has evolved over the years into a multi-disciplinary approach combining photography and creative writing and mainly stems from an engagement with issues of migrancy, memory and identity most often relating to The Lebanon, my place of birth, and its history of conflicts.
What became a defining moment in my practice was experiencing the devastation of the centre of Beirut at the end of the civil war (1975-1990) on a scale rarely encountered. It is against this background of vast erasure that I started this autobiographical body of work including this series with the impetus of relocating memories in a space that seems to be endlessly entangled in a double helix of transformation and dissolution. At the core, was the notion that, for my mother as for myself, our sense of selves and our (hi)stories were deeply bound to this part of Beirut and its singular configuration and starting from the premise that there is always a city that lives on in each of us, I set out to map a trail of memories that was entrenched with the many transformations of Beirut. A process of re-visiting and re-translation by way of memory aided in coming to terms with the sense of loss and unreplaceability of place. 
There is a total of 6 wall-compositions in this series but only 4 will be shown in this exhibition. Each wall-composition consists of my own writing juxtaposed with a black and white photograph of my mother taken by street-photographers and a colour photograph  taken over several years in and around  the city centre of Beirut.

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Tuesday, 27 May 2014

CURATING EXHIBITION: 

EAST AND WEST : VISUALISING THE OTTOMAN CITY (6-30 June)

It is all finally coming together after months of paperwork and liaising, the catalogue and publicity are being printed and artworks are at the framer ( Adrian at Possible Frames, totally gets your concept). It has been a very enjoyable experience to work with artists Aikaterini Gegisian, Paris Petridis and the Ottoman team. Matt Emmins did also a beautiful design job on all our publicity and catalogue.
Only 10 days away, the exhibition will open on Friday June 6 (6-9 pm) with a performance by Alev Adil. More events for your diary - all free:
Friday 20 June, 6 - 9 pm
Artists’ Talks and Roundtable with Shoair Mavlian, Tate Modern, and Reem Akl, Arab Foundation for the Image
Thursday 26 June, 7 - 9 pm
Roundtable with Ruba Asfahani, Arab British Centre; Bea Lewkowicz, Sephardi Voices UK and Nouritza Matossian, Armenian Institute
Venue : Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck College, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD
Opening Times : Mon-Fri 9am – 9 pm & Sat 9am – 5pm
Website: http://ottomancosmopolitanism.wordpress.com/exhibition

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Friday, 14 February 2014

Editing New Work from Beirut (2)

Selected from previous writings :   

     Amid the tall marble towers and wide highways, lies a city full of gaps and dark actions. Running through it, is a green line broken up by brackets of amnesia where many disappeared with all their footsteps and shadows erased. There are many crosses marking oblivion on my mental map.


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Workshop #3 : Visualising the Ottoman City : then and now

Ottoman Past, Present Cities : Cosmopolitanism and Transcultural Memories AHRC Research Network

Friday 28th March 2014 / Birkbeck, University of London 

The workshop will address some of the representational issues that arise from this pivotal historical moment in the visual culture of the empire to question the possibility of a multi-vocal cosmopolitanism emerging out of these images. Parallel to this the workshop will address the visual ‘archive feverthat is currently sweeping the ex-Ottoman cities and the dialogue that could be initiated between the visual ottoman pasts and present conflicts in the Middle East thus highlighting the role that contemporary artistic interventions can play in transgressing present nationalisms in the area. 

Speakers :   Wendy M. K. Shaw, Vazken Khatchig Davidian, Gabriel Koureas, Laura Carderera and Yael Friedman

For a full programme with abstracts, please visit our website: http://ottomancosmopolitanism.wordpress.com/events/research-events/

Further information and updates to be found on:
twitter:     https://twitter.com/Ottoman_Cosmo
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OttomanCosmopolitanismNetwork?bookmark_t=page

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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Editing New Work from Beirut

I have been editing new photographs taken in Beirut last December exploring sites of violence and sites of memory to possibly add to photo-text series 'The City that Exploded Slowly'.
This work is about reading the city as being in a constant process of erosion and dissolution which renders it full of gaps and a past erased by a tide of amnesia. On many of my return trips, travelling by car, I formed new maps in my mind: black violet stains would mark the spots where extreme violence has occurred along the mouth of the river, on secluded sites by the shore..




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