The Bidoun Library, founded in 2009 by Bidoun Projects, is a mobile library consisting of books, magazines and other printed matter. Since the turn of the last century, the term “Middle East,” which was coined in the West, has existed more as a subject for discussion and study than a geographical area. Bidoun Library is an attempt to survey this territory through its printed matter. Books, magazines and other materials are treated as objects in which complex and historical facts and ambitions meet. They are not amongst the most representative or refined objects from the Middle East — they are cheaper and more perishable. Bidoun Library acquires a new form everywhere it stops.
Bidoun Projects is dedicated to supporting contemporary art and culture from the Middle East and the diaspora. Individual projects are conceived and managed by a collective of curators, editors, and artists based in Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, the UAE, the UK, and the US. Bidoun commissions and curates unique artists' projects, exhibitions, and educational events around the world.
Recent curatorial projects include 'NOISE,' a major exhibition at Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Beirut; the Bidoun Library, a collection of catalogues, books, artists' books, and sound/film projects which premiered at Abu Dhabi Art in November 2009 and has since been developed into a touring, 'pop-up' project that has since traveled to the 98 Weeks Research Center in Beirut, the New Museum in New York, and the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo among other venues; curated film programs and performances presented at LACMA/Los Angeles, Light Industry and The Kitchen/New York, Ajram Beach/Beirut, among other venues; Provisions, a two-part publishing project with Sharjah Biennial 9; and “The Inhabitants of Images,” a performance by Rabih Mroué, co-commissioned by Bidoun, TQW, and Ashkal Alwan, which premiered in Dubai in March 2009 and is now touring. And much more.
In the educational realm, we recently ran a course of Arabic and English-language workshops in Dubai on writing about art designed to encourage critical debate. Our Middle East Modernities Documentation Project seeks to unearth, document, and interpret the lost stories of modern and contemporary art in and around the region. Click here to visit BubuWeb, our repository for rare film and sound from the Middle East.
In 2009, Bidoun entered a long-term collaboration with UbuWeb, an award-winning online archive for avant-garde media. To date, Bubu has hosted rare and hard to find sound and audio works from the likes of filmmakers Forough Farrokhzad and Artavazd Peleshian, as well as composers Ali Reza Mashayekhi, Halim El-Dabh, and Dariush Dolat-Shahi, among many others. In many cases, Bubu has documented the western avant-garde’s encounter with the East; films by Claude LeLouch, Pier Paolo Pasollini, and Agnes Varda are also included in this growing collection.
Bidoun Magazine and The Delfina Foundation, with the support of the British Council, are working in partnership to provide a unique residency opportunity in London to support new writing from Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and the Palestinian Territories.
In 2010, Bidoun Projects is the curatorial partner of Art Dubai, responsible for programming a series of non-commercial exhibitions, commissions, screenings and educational events that engage with the fabric of the fair.
‘Forms of Compensation’ is a series of 21 reproductions of iconic modern and contemporary artworks, with an emphasis on sculptures, paintings and prints by Arab and Iranian artists. The series was produced in Cairo by craftspeople and auto mechanics in the neighborhood around Townhouse Gallery, commissioned by Babak Radboy and overseen by Ayman Ramadan, working from installation shots of the original artworks, along with the instruction that each copy should differ in one small way from its referent
The programs are launched at Art Dubai (March 17–20, 2010) in the Art Park–an underground space for talks, film and video–and then travel on throughout 2010 to venues in the region and beyond. This year’s programs are curated by Bidoun and guest curators Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Aram Moshayedi, and the duo of Özge Ersoy and Sohrab Mohebbi.
Together with Anthology Film Archives, Bidoun presented an encore screening of Ben Hayeem’s unmissable, unfathomable wonder. Born and raised in Bombay, Hayeem (1933-2004) made a number of well-regarded films and was close with experimental film pioneers Maya Deren and Slavko Vorkapich. Early in his career he joined the Living Theater group in New York and became the only Indian Jew to play a Chinese Priest with a Yiddish accent in a Brecht play. This comedic, cross-cultural experience must have set him down the path to the rather incredible and risque happenings in The Black Banana.
Bidoun Projects, in partnership with the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) launches a course of workshops that focus on writing about art and offer the opportunity for critical debate.
From the din of cultural initiatives, exhibitions, symposia, biennials, group shows, and surveys mounted to confront, mediate, meditate, cross-pollinate, advocate, decry, valorize, deny, expose, represent, reconsider, reappraise, reify, or, better yet, to re-unveil what it means to make, show, and sell art in the Middle East, Bidoun magazine responds with NOISE, an exhibition opening December 9 at the Sfeir-Semler Gallery in Beirut.
Bidoun hosted an evening at The Kitchen for a second time, in commemoration of our fall 2009 issue, “INTERVIEW,” with added eclectica drawn from the world of our winter issue, “NOISE.” The evening, hosted by senior editors Negar Azimi and Michael Vazquez, and featured Tony Shafrazi, Gini Alhadeff and Hampton Fancher, Abou Farman, Bidoun’s own Lucy Raven and Tiffany Malakooti and music by Steve “The Whistler” Herbst and $hayne Oliver and Fatima Al-Qadiri.
Bidoun Projects 2004–2009