March 26, 2010 - Bidoun - Issue 20: Bazaar now available
March 26, 2010

Issue 20: Bazaar now available

Issue 20: Bazaar now available

If you don’t enjoy the spectacle of someone having his cake — or is it yours? — and eating it, too, you may very well be annoyed by the fact that Farhad Moshiri’s work often sells for hundreds of thousands, even a million, dollars.
— Negar Azimi, “Fluffy Farhad”

The Bidoun Bazaar begins with the cover: a Swarovski crystal-studded portrait by Farhad Moshiri, the Andy Warhol of the Arab of world, who is profiled by editor Negar Azimi inside. But “Fluffy Farhad” is only the beginning. In ‘Identity Bazaar’ — a folio’s worth of rants assembled by Bidoun ranter-in-chief Hassan Khan — a gang of four artists and curators analyze, bemoan, disdain, and pity contemporary art institutions and the “ethnic turn” in curatorial practice. Accompanying their words are a selection of photographs that document ‘Forms of Compensation,’ a project in which twenty-one iconic modern and contemporary artworks were counterfeited by workers from the mekaniki district of Cairo. The results are strangely uncanny in their stilted articulation of the originals — not unlike such mutant clones as OK1 by Oalvin Klein, Y-5, Abidas, and Shanel, for sale in local markets.

In “Arabia on the Turkey,” Adam John Waterman tells the tale of Elkader, Iowa, a small farm town named for an early nineteenth-century Algerian revolutionary — and a pawn in the great game of cultural diplomacy even today. Lawrence Osborne’s short story “Hungry Ghosts” tells a tale of life and death in the gambling palaces of Macau. Gini Alhadeff’s essay “Pleasure for the Eyes” suggests the indispensability of ornament, which we moderns tend to think is beneath, or at least behind, us.

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…
— Alexander Keefe, “Lord of the Drone”

In “Lord of the Drone,” Alexander Keefe recovers the life and legacy of the great Indian singer and tambura player Pandit Pran Nath, a key but underappreciated figure in the 1970s art underground. Alexander Provan’s “The Golden Compass” profiles another set of dreamers, the Murabitun — a wildly ambitious Sufi sect that plans to destroy the world-capitalist system not with bombs or swords, but with a gold-backed currency.

All this, plus an oral history of Tehran’s late-1960s Rasht 29 Art Club, photos of the tastiest bread in Los Angeles, and a special glossy insert — Mahma Kan Althaman (“Whatever the Price“) —the hermaphroditic lovechild of Moogambo, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and a 1970s Italian fotonovela, produced specially for Bidoun by Fatima Al Qadiri and Khalid Al Gharaballi.

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