#26 Soft Power


The Bequest of Quest
By Michael C. Vazquez

In his brief introduction to The Best of Quest, a sixhundred- sixty-page brick of a book collecting scores of essays, poems, and stories from what was once India’s leading English-language literary journal, Achal Prabhala relates the chance encounter that led to the anthology’s conception. Like many such encounters, it happened in bed. Sleepless and bored, he turned to a pile of magazines his parents had given him and plucked out an issue at random. It was the April–June 1970 Quest, and there was an essay inside like a message in a bottle… a bottle stuffed with an oily rag, set on fire, and sent spinning nearly four decades into the future. At his head.

Iman Issa: Radical Subtraction
By Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

A long glass display case holds a meticulous arrangement of an older man’s effects, including cufflinks, a pocket watch, a letter opener, and two albums of black-and-white photographs. Affixed to a wall close by is a line of text that serves as a title, a description, and a riddle of sorts: Material for a sculpture commemorating an economist whose name now marks the streets and squares he once frequented.

Call Me Soft
By Sarah Rifky

On a warm August night in Brussels, a curator, Orient, of feminist inclination, dressed up in an Egyptian belly dance costume, swaying her hips and breasts to Umm Kulthum’s epic song of a thousand and one nights. This act of seduction was intended for an audience of One. One was a man, a curator.

Sticky Fingers: Foreign Funding in Flux
Issandr El Amrani, Moukhtar Kocache, William Wells, Alaa Abd El Fattah, Khaled El Qazzaz, Basma El Husseiny, Oussama Rifahi, Amr Gharbeia, Sarah Rifky, Hossam El Hamalawy, Angela Harutyunyan and Marwa Sharafeldin

Bidoun spoke to a number of individuals who have stakes in the ongoing drama — people who run human rights organizations or art spaces, funders, activists, and one official from the Muslim Brotherhood. Fresh from parliamentary victories that have left it dominating the country’s first postrevolution legislature, the Brotherhood will surely play the most significant role in defining Egypt’s future. What follows is only the beginning of a conversation that is likely to be vast and vexed. This is not the first time we have looked into the contentious question of foreign funding in the Middle East, nor is it likely to be the last.

The Serendipity of Sand
By Anand Balakrishnan

If my former boss were reduced to a collection of ideal geometric forms, he would be a circle and a line segment. If described by a child, in deepest winter: two-thirds of a snowman on a stick. If a still life: a moldy brioche, an overripe squash, and two wispy stalks of grain. In the real world, where I knew him, he was a physics puzzle.

Table of Contents

Letter from the Editors

Profile
Iman Issa
Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

Work in Progress
Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Negar Azimi

Franzieska Pierwoss
Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

Soft Power
The Angry, Angry Arab
Babak Radboy and E.P. Licursi

The Marble Lawn
Yasmine El Rashidi

Occupy Godhead
Anna Della Subin

The Bequest of Quest
Michael C. Vazquez

Sticky Fingers: Foreign Funding in Flux
Bidoun with Issandr El Amrani, Moukhtar Kocache, William Wells, Alaa Abd El Fattah, Khaled El Qazzaz, Basma El Husseiny, Oussama Rifahi, Amr Gharbeia, Sarah Rifky, Hossam El Hamalawy,

Call Me Soft
Sarah Rifky

Soft Readers Prefer Hard Covers
Shumon Basar

Pieties
Clare Davies

The Serendipity of Sand
Anand Balakrishnan

Food
The Chibsi Challenge
Sophia Al-Maria with Yasmeen Alsudairy, Sarah Fan, E.P. Licursi, Andy Pressman, Sukhdev Sandhu, Anna Della Subin and Michael C.
Vazquez

Exhibitions
The 3rd Athens Biennale
Tom Morton

The 12th Istanbul Biennial
Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

Harris Epaminonda
Gini Alhadeff

Scramble for the Past
Suzy Hansen

Iran via Video Current
Media Farzin

In the Presence of Absence
Robyn Creswell

Utopia
Yasmine El Rashidi

Fifteen Ways to Leave Badiou
Sarah Rifky

Hamlet’s Arab Journey
Hussein Omar