March 25, 2011 - Bidoun - 24: Sports
March 25, 2011

24: Sports

Bidoun Issue # 24
SPORTS

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Much like modern war, modern sport is undertaken by a marginalized group for the benefit of a powerful elite.
—Alexander Provan, from “The Work of Sport in the Age of International Acquisition”

Bidoun Issue # 24: SPORTS In Stores Now!

For its spring issue, Bidoun turns to a theme at once unlikely and inevitable, grandiose and granular, cutting-edge and atavistic: SPORTS. In approaching the most popular subject in the world, we wanted to steer away from the Xtremes and the record books (except when recounting the true tale of the Naga Jolokia, the world’s hottest chili). We were more interested in the apparatus of celebrity and fandom; in the body as commodity; in the mind games and energy drinks and exercise tapes.

I’m not an artist like Googoosh or Michael Jackson. I don’t cage myself in. I live my life. I go to the gym. Sometimes I come out unshaved.
— Mohammad Khordadian, Iranian fitness guru, quoted in “Keeping Up with the Khordadian” by Negar Azimi

And so we set out to find the most improbably compelling figures in the wide world of sports. Like Mohammad Khordadian, the elusive, effusive god-king of Persian dancercise, whose thirty-year career spans Tehran and Tehrangeles and Dubai. Like Omar Sharif, smoldering star of stage and screen and roving ambassador for the not-yet-Olympic sport of Bridge. Like Nada Zeidan—archeress, spokesmodel, and road-racer by day, emergency room nurse by night. Like Shah Rukh Khan, the Muslim face of Bollywood cinema and owner of his own cricket team, the Kolkata Knight Riders. Like Stephen Cherono and other Kenyan long- and middle-distance runners who have found infamy and fortune as Arabized athletes in the Gulf.

Even before it arrived in India, cricket was in many ways a Brahmin game: its insistence on order, its immaculate uniforms, the channeling of aggression into ritual. Soon enough, cricket stood for life itself, and for the expectation that justice, if not glory, might be obtained by following the rules.
—Anna Della Subin, from “Thwack!: Bollywood, Cricket, and the Dignity of Sport”

Other features consider avian sports medicine, intramural three-legged racing, competitive Magic: The Gathering, and transcripts from Iranian state television’s #1 sports show.

There’s something liberating about the idea that talking about problems might lead to them actually getting fixed, even if the problem is how to keep cows and sheep from shitting all over the football fields.
— Sohrab Mohebbi, on Ninety, Iranian TV’s most popular (sports) show

In the arts section: Neil Beloufa‘s ghosts of futures past, Alvaro Perdices‘ ruined Algerian museums, and Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc‘s tricontinental revolutionary séance.

Revews: Nicky Nodjoumi // Karthik Pandian // Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art // Pouran Jinchi // Decolonizing Architecture // Walid Raad // Mounira Al Solh // Wael Shawky.

Plus: Sohrab Mohebbi‘s letter from an Iranian soccer pitch, Dave Tompkin‘s encounter with electro-techno pioneer Hashim, and red velvet cake with Yemeni-American boxer Saddam Ali.

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