The Bidoun Library at the 2013 Carnegie International
October 5, 2013–March 16, 2014
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
The Bidoun Library is a presentation of printed matter, carefully selected with no regard for taste or quality, that attempts to document the innumerable ways that people have depicted and defined—slandered, celebrated, obfuscated, hyperbolized, ventriloquized, photographed, surveyed, and/or exhumed—that vast, vexed, nefarious construct known as “the Middle East.” The result is banal and offensive, a parade of stereotypes, caricatures, and misunderstandings, all the trappings of the Middle East as fetish: veils, oil, fashion victims; sexy sheikhs, sex with sheikhs, Sufis, stonings; calligraphy, the caliphate, terrorism; Palestinians. We wanted to see what would happen if we put together a library without regard to aptness or excellence; to choose books not for their subjects, but their contexts; not for their authors, but their publishers; not for their qualities, but in their quantities.
THE NATURAL ORDER
“Water was the first type of drilling fluid to be used, but when it became evident that superior drilling fluids could be made when certain clays were added, the art of mud control began.”
Kuwait Oil Company, Crude to Carrier, The Epic of Oil. Kuwait City: Information Department, 1967.
MARGIN OF ERROR
“The life of an immigrant family of three. Having been a violinist, the man is used to play violin when he is alone. The woman is working in an office and the eight-year-old child attends school. The man has problems with his wife. Being in a bad situation the couple can not help each other. But the child is aware of the problems.”
Mohammad Aghili, Hossein Mahini, A Prospect of Iran’s Film in Exile. Gothenburg: FRI Fil, 1993.
“Choose Your Own Adventure is the best thing that has come along since books themselves.”
– Alysha Beyer, age 11
“I didn’t read much before, but now I read my Choose Your Own Adventure books almost every night.”
– Chris Brogan, age 13
“I love the control over what happens next.”
– Kosta Efstathiou, age 17
Shannon Gilligan, Choose Your Own Adventure: The Terrorist Trap. New York: Bantam-Skylark, 1991.
A big thank you to all who joined us this past Sunday evening for the Bidoun Benefit Dinner. It was really really fun!
A special thanks to our readers: Chelsea Clinton, Stuart Comer, Lawrence Weiner, Lynne Tillman, Knight Landesman, and Orhan Pamuk & Shirin Neshat; and our host committee: Maria Baibakova, Yto Barrada, Aarthi Belani, Lisa Farjam, Dana Farouki, Coco Ferguson, Princess Firyal of Jordan, Leila Heller, Shirin Neshat, and Sheena Wagstaff.