The Bidoun Library at the Serpentine Gallery, London

      July 12 - September 17, 2011

      Literacy expert, Dr. Frank Laubach, works late into the night on Afghan reading primers (March 1951). Here, he sits on a table to make the most of the lone lightbulb in his dim hotel room.

      This summer, the Bidoun Library will be in residence at the Serpentine Gallery with a program of exhibitions, talks, screenings and an Egyptian shaabi wedding/dance party. Founded in 2009, the Bidoun Library is a peripatetic resource of books, periodicals and ephemera developed by Bidoun Projects, a not-for-profit publishing, curatorial and educational initiative dedicated to supporting contemporary culture from the Middle East.

      In London, amid library closings and deaccessionings that have let thousands of publications loose upon the market, the Bidoun Library will address that crisis, as well as the printed aftermatter of the Egyptian revolution that began in earnest on January 25, 2011.

      Months of research, purchasing and hoarding have amassed a collection of (nearly) every book printed and every newspaper and periodical founded since the revolution began — from soap-operatic novellas about Hosni Mubarak’s last days in power, to special revolution issues of teen, fitness, and in-flight magazines, as well as previously-banned political treatises. This material, along with publications obtained in London during Bidoun’s residency at the Centre for Possible Studies on Edgware Road, will be placed amongst the Library’s eclectic catalogue of guidebooks, political treatises, romance novels, comic books, travelogues, and oil company publications — a veritable cornucopia of representation.

      Bidoun 25 — the issue that will launch at the Serpentine this summer — also considers the revolution in Egypt (and the volume of words it occasioned, in print and online), in what may well be the most information-dense Bidoun ever in history.

      During July and August, Bidoun will host a series of events bringing together leading writers and artists:

      Saturday, July 16

      Hisham Matar
      Sackler Centre of Arts Education, 3pm

      Author of In the Country of Men and Anatomy of a Disappearance, Hisham Matar was born in New York City in 1970 to Libyan parents, Matar spent his childhood first in Tripoli and then in Cairo. He has lived in the UK since 1986.

      Monday, July 18

      Rania Stephan: The Three Disappearances of Suad Hosni

      The Gate Cinema, Notting Hill, 7pm

      Former Edgware Road Project artist-in-residence Rania Stephan returns to present the UK premiere of her film The Three Disappearances of Suad Hosni (2011), which recently won the Sharjah Biennial Prize. The film’s non-fiction narrative reflects on the life and death of Egyptian actress Suad Hosni, who committed suicide while living on Edgware Road in 2001.

      Friday, July 22


      Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, 8pm

      Bidoun Projects present an evening of loud Egyptian Shaabi music, dancing, readings, and an actual wedding, all at the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011. This event is commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery as part of the Edgware Road Project.

      Saturday, July 23

      Nawal Al Saadawi

      Sackler Centre of Arts Education, 3pm

      Author of over forty-seven books, Nawal Al Saadawi is a pioneering Egyptian activist, psychiatrist, feminist, and political activist. Her books include_ Women and Sex, _Memoirs from the Women’s Prison, and God Dies by the Nile. Saadawi’s life in struggle has seen her incarcerated in the 1970s for speaking out against the corruption of the Sadat regime, forced by Islamists to flee Egypt for eight years in the 1990s. She was among the protesters in Tahrir Square in 2011.

      Saturday, July 30

      Samandal: Picture Stories From Here and There
      Sackler Centre of Arts Education, 3pm

      Samandal is a Beirut-based trilingual magazine dedicated to comics, cartoons, and other picture stories. The goal of Samandal is to provide a platform on which graphic artists from Lebanon, the Middle East, and the world may experiment with various combinations of word and image for the benefit of a polyglot international audience… that loves comics.

      Saturday, August

      Slavs and Tatars: Molla Nasreddin, The Magazine That Woud’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve
      Sackler Centre of Arts Education, 3pm

      Artist collective Slavs and Tatars present Molla Nasreddin: The Magazine that Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve, a new book examining the history of that legendary Azeribaijani periodical, arguably the most important Muslim satirical political magazine of the 20th century. For the book’s UK launch, Slavs and Tatars will present Molla Nasreddin: Embrace Your Antithesis, including: a discussion of the book’s historical context; a case study of the complex Caucasus region; and an exploration of the issue of self-censorship, then and now. Guests will be offered their choice of red or white tea, alluding to Communism and Islam, the two major geopolitical narratives between which Molla Nasreddin — and Slavs and Tatars — navigate.

      Saturday, August 13

      Michael C. Vazquez

: The Periodical Cold War: Tales from the Bidoun Library
      Sackler Centre of Arts Education, 3pm

      In the 1960s, an array of state-sponsored international magazines fought pitched battles — against imperialism or communism and/or their own governments — across the entire length of the first, second, and third worlds. Bidoun Senior Editor and librarian Michael C. Vazquez presents an illustrated lecture on pivotal moments in periodical diplomacy, with especial focus on Transition (Kampala, Uganda), Tricontinental (Havana, Cuba), and Lotus: Afro-Asian Writing (Cairo / Beirut / Tunis).

      Saturday, August 20

      Ahdaf Soueif
      Sackler Centre of Arts Education, 3pm

      Based in London and Cairo, Ahdaf Soueif is a critic, activist, translator, and novelist whose works include In the Eye of the Sun, Mezzaterra: Fragments from the Common Ground and_ The Map of Love_. Winner of the 2010 Mahmoud Darwish Award for her work on Palestine, Soueif comes from a family of activists and writers who have been some of the key protagonists of the Egyptian revolution. In this seminar on writing and the revolution, Soueif will be discussing her work and sharing her experiences of activism and authorship over the past two decades.

      Saturday, August 27

      UK Libraries: Struggles for the Knowledge Commons

      Sackler Centre of Arts Education, 3pm

      A panel of leading activists reflect on the current struggles around the closing of public libraries in the UK.

      Saturday, September 3

      Sonallah Ibrahim

      Sackler Centre of Arts Education, 3pm

      In 2003, Sonallah Ibrahim — the author of_ Zaat, Stealth, The Smell of It, and The Committee_, among other books — publicly refused a prestigious literary award given to him by the Egyptian ministry of culture. It was only the latest inspiring outrage from this novelist and writer, who’d been imprisoned for five years under the Nasser regime for his leftist politics. Ibrahim remains an outspoken critic and force of legend in Egypt.