“Night Swimmers-a voyage through geometry, mysticism and the female figure” By Rachel Spence

Antonello_da_Messina_-_Virgin_Annunciate_-_Galleria_Regionale_della_Sicilia,_Palermo 40

L’Annunziata: Antonella da Messina, Galleria Regionale della Sicilia

It’s often said that the measure of a great work of art is that it stands the test of time. But perhaps another criteria is that it stands the test of space. Not just then and now but also here and there. Would it be too estoric to say that Nasreen Mohamedi and Antonello da Messina are not only products of their time and place but also of each other’s? That this is the territory which Nasreen was seeking when she once enjoined herself to “See and feel primeval order”? [19]

She came from the east, he from the west, yet the geometry they share is universal. When the Roman Empire fell, so much of its knowledge would have been crushed in the rubble had not certain key classical texts been preserved in the Islamic world. For example, the great 10th- century mathematician from Baghdad, Ibrahim Ibn Sinan, translated Archimedes. Travelling through North Africa in the 12th century, the Italian mathematician Fibonacci discovered the Arabic numerals which he then introduced to the western world. Start to investigate and a myriad east-west synergies come to light; for example, the revolutionary cycle of numbers known now as the Fibonacci sequence actually originated in 6th century India.

Let’s recall too that Euclid lived and died in Alexandria, Egypt and Archimedes may have been educated there. The North African territory was part of the Greek and then Roman empires. How often do we find the borders between east and west so frail as to complicate such identities until they are barely holding?

As for me, I am still sitting on the floor. Looking. Writing. Outside my window is a world where women are still enjoined either turn themselves into objects of the gaze, or to retreat from sight as if exposure equals dishonour. Caught between the Scylla of Make Yourself Beautiful and the Charybdis of Cover Yourself Up. Still, too often, we are situated between the rock of motherhood and the hard places of spinsterhood or whoredom. But here in my room, Nasreen and Antonello – or the figure he created – quietly urge me to continue that inward turn.

“I cannot seek from without. It has to come from within.” [20]

That self-reflexive curve is, essentially, a non-objective gesture. Detaching itself from the figure – which is so often bonded with its historical and geographical moment – abstraction can take us to that state of origin which is close to rebirth. Or as Nasreen Mohamedi put it so acutely. “Out of chaos – form – silence.’ [21]

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posted by f.sheikh

Coke Studio

In a country like Pakistan, where extremism is tearing apart the cultural fabric of society, Coca-Cola is helping to foster the new breed of musicians, from classic to folk music. It is interesting merge of corporate interest and art in the form of Coke Studio. Coca cola is expanding this joint venture worldwide. Worth reading history of Coke Studio below. (f sheikh) 

In 2006, Coca-Cola approached Rohail Hyatt, a Pakistani musician and producer, with an offer he couldn’t refuse: we’ll pay for you to make a live-music show for television. Don’t worry about the money – just do whatever it takes to ensnare the ears and thus the hearts and minds of Pakistanis everywhere.

Hyatt didn’t disappoint. The first season of “Coke Studio”, which aired in 2008, was received with enthusiasm; subsequent seasons with adulation. The show takes viewers inside the recording studio to watch a diverse range of musicians – young and old, rich and poor, Punjabi and Pushtun – perform songs that put Pakistan’s different musical traditions in conversation with each other: devotional Sufi music with pop, traditional monsoon melodies with rock. When “Coke Studio” first aired, the country was in crisis. Benazir Bhutto had recently been assassinated and thousands of people were being killed every year in terrorist attacks and sectarian incidents. The country was tearing itself apart. But for an hour every week, “Coke Studio”, in its own small way, stitched the nation back together again.

“Coke Studio” continues to be a roaring success. According to Coca-Cola, each season since 2010 has been viewed, at least in part, by 90% of Pakistanis who own a TV. Coca-Cola is so confident about “Coke Studio” that it has adapted the format for 24 other countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa (including some of the biggest: India, Indonesia, Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria).

This isn’t beginner’s luck. For almost as long as the company has existed, Coca-Cola has used music to sell its products. In 1899 Hilda Clark, a dance-hall singer, serenaded the drink in an ad and, in the late 1960s, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and many other pop luminaries wrote radio jingles for the company. But over the last decade, Coca-Cola has deepened its commitment to music and is now a major player in the industry. A year after “Coke Studio” first aired, it launched Coca-Cola FM, a music-streaming website in Latin America. In 2012, the company announced a “global strategic partnership” with Spotify. YouTube, Spotify and other streaming services act as gatekeepers to music; now Coca-Cola does too.

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Modern Muslim Fashion Identity (NYT)

( In the last TFUSA meeting we were discussing Muslims/Islam after 50 years. Indonesian designer Hasiban has her models in Hijab in recent NYC Fashion show. Perhaps it gives a glimpse of future. Western culture with a veneer of Muslim identity? f. sheikh )

Last week, quietly and without much fanfare, the 22nd global Vogue went live.

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Framed in striking black and gold, the glossy digital pages look, in many ways, much like any other international issue of the world’s most powerful fashion magazine. There is a video interview with the star model Gigi Hadid, a colorful carousel of spring 2017 runway trends, a lavish editorial featuring the latest Chanel, and bright, chatty pieces about hot local brands and social media stars.

Image result for Hasibuan models,

Image result for Hasibuan models,

 

But then there is this: “How to Style Your Hair Under a Hijab.” And this: Malikah, a fiery Beirut-raised hip-hop star, describing how she began her career spitting lyrics into a face mask to hide her identity from disapproving conservatives.

And, just after a cinematic short film featuring the Lebanese designer Elie Saab and the model Elisa Sednaoui amid ornate dining rooms and lush walled gardens, there is this: the definitive edit of this season’s most stylish abayas (robelike dresses).

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Welcome to Vogue Arabia, a digital-first, bilingual foray into the hearts, minds and wallets of women in the 22 countries of the Arab League. As such, it is the latest, and potentially the strongest, new voice to join a growing chorus demanding global recognition and respect for Muslim culture and its commercial clout.

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A story on the Vogue Arabia website on hairstyles for hijabs. CreditVogue Arabia

From Arab Fashion Week, based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which debuted last month on the heels of Paris Fashion Week, to Jakarta Fashion Week, held last week in the Indonesian capital, formal fashion showcases are being institutionalized across the Islamic world.

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