Nasser Rabbat, Aga Khan Professor, MIT: Future City – What do we need to construct?

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“A conversation between Philippe Rahm (Architect, Philippe Rahm Architects), Nasser Rabbat (Aga Khan Professor, MIT) and Joseph Grima (Architect and Writer) at the Future City Forum, 27 September 2013 in Liverpool.

The field of architecture not only addresses the building of physical structures and the shaping of space but also has a unique viewpoint on the social and historical constructs that are relevant when thinking about urban environments. This discussion addresses what we need to create in the present to shape how we will live in the future.

Part of Future City, a collaborative project between Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art and Liverpool Biennial for Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture.”

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The Shahnameh as propaganda for World War II

The British Library’s newly opened exhibition Propaganda: Power and Persuasion includes a number of exhibits relating to Asian and African Studies, one of which is a series of postcards dating from World War II based on an episode from the famous Persian epic the Shahnameh, or ‘Book of Kings.’

The postcards on display in the current exhibition use the myth of the tyrant Zahhak in an attempt at rendering anti-German propaganda more relevant to Iranian cultural sensibilities. The Iranian scholar Mojtaba Minovi (1903 -1976) was working for the BBC Persian service during World War II, editing the pro-Allied newspaper Ruzgar-i Naw. When asked for advice on an effective propaganda campaign for Iran, he suggested using stories and imagery from the Shahnameh (see Wynn, p. 4) to appeal to the Iranian people. Minovi’s advice was taken and the images were created in 1942 by Kimon Evan Marengo (1904-1988), known by the sobriquet Kem, a prolific creator of propaganda cartoons for the British during the war.

 

See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2013/05/the-shahnameh-as-propaganda-for-world-war-ii.html#sthash.WFwYcWGy.dpuf

 

The New Age (Ruzgar-i naw): World War II cultural propaganda in Persian – British Library Blog

Though Iran was officially neutral when war broke out in 1939, many Iranians were sympathetic towards Germany which, they hoped, might liberate them from years of British and Russian oppression. An increasing German presence combined with British concern for continued supplies of Iranian oil led to Operation Countenance, an Allied invasion launched on 25 August 1941. As a result Reza Shah was deposed and replaced by his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Iran was forced to abandon its neutral position though it did not actually declare war against Germany until September 1943. From 1941 onwards, British propaganda, published by the Ministry of Information (MOI), played a crucial role. Favouring a cultural approach, the MOI produced items such as the Shāhnāmah cartoons by the artist Kem (see our post ‘The Shahnameh as propaganda for World War II’) and the magazine Rūzgār-i naw, or The New Age which was published quarterly in Persian between 1941 and 1946.

See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/05/the-new-age-ruzgar-i-naw-world-war-ii-cultural-propaganda-in-persian-.html#sthash.Uv1CLfDf.dpuf

An A-Z of Arabic Propaganda The British Government’s Arabic-Language Output during WWII, British Library Blog

Throughout the Second World War, Britain’s Ministry of Information (MOI) produced and disseminated a remarkable assortment of propaganda material in Arabic. The material that it produced was intended to counter pro-Axis sentiment in the Arab World and bolster support for Britain and its allies. This propaganda effort arose largely in response to the German and Italian Governments’ own large-scale propaganda campaigns that, with some success (more so Germany than Italy), targeted the Middle East and North Africa from the 1930s onwards.

See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2016/04/an-a-z-of-arabic-propaganda.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+asian-and-african+%28Asia+and+Africa%29#sthash.1TgUVamz.dpuf

Razmnamah: the Persian Mahabharata by Ursula Sims-Williams, Asian and African Studies, British Library Blog

One of our most important Mughal manuscripts is Or.12076, the Razmnāmah (ʻBook of Warʼ), copied in AH 1007 (1598/99) and containing the concluding part, sections 14-18, of the Persian translation of the Sanskrit epic the Mahābhārata. It is currently on display at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, in the exhibition Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts curated by Amy S. Landau of the Walters Art Museum Baltimore where it was originally exhibited. As a result of the Library’s participation in the exhibition the whole volume has now been digitised and is available online for everyone to look at — whether they are lucky enough to be able to visit the exhibition or not!

See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2016/04/razmnamah-the-persian-mahabharata.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+asian-and-african+%28Asia+and+Africa%29#sthash.7d6yQFss.dpuf

The 9th-Century Islamic “Instrument Which Plays by Itself”, From Hyperallergic by Allison Meier on April 12, 2016

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In 2009, Tokyo’s Waseda University built a fedora-sporting flautist robot powered by cranked air. But this is only the most recent attempt at a mechanical, flute-playing musician. In the 9th century, the Banū Mūsā brothers in Baghdad wrote a treatise describing their “instrument which plays by itself.

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Cover of ‘Allah’s Automata’ (image courtesy Hatje Cantz) (click to enlarge)

Their innovative machine is described in Allah’s Automata: Artifacts of the Arabic-Islamic Renaissance (800-1200), recently published by Hatje Cantz. The book accompanies an exhibition of the same name, currently on view at the ZKM (Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe) in Germany, that includes a reconstruction of their instrument. While automata had their golden age in Europe from the 16th to 19th centuries — which saw the creation of such devices as the clock of Diana in her chariot that rolled across a table and shot an arrow — in the Islamic world their peak was from the 9th to 13th centuries. The most famous, also reconstructed for Allah’s Automata, is the 12th-century elephant water clock. The shapes of its various hydraulic elements could be interpreted as symbols of the international trade that facilitated its creation by Ismail al-Jazari, including an Indian elephant, Chinese dragons, and an Egyptian phoenix riding above a Muslim scholar who writes the time.

 

Issey Miyake’s technology-driven clothing designs on view in Tokyo from artdaily.com

  • TOKYO.- An exhibition devoted to designer Issey Miyake is on view until June 13, 2016 at the National Art Center, Tokyo. The Center has considered design to be an important exhibition theme since it opened in 2007 and is devoted to presenting a wide range of artistic expressions and proposing new perspectives. This exhibition, Miyake Issey Exhibition: The Work of Miyake Issey, promises to be an unprecedented event, focusing on the entirety of Miyake’s 45-year career, from 1970 to the present.

    Miyake has consistently presented new methodologies and possibilities for making clothes, while always focusing on the future. It all began in 1960 when Miyake, a student at Tama Art University, sent a letter to the World Design Conference, which was being held for the first time in Japan that year. The letter took issue with the fact that clothing design was not included in the event. At that point, Miyake’s notion that clothing is not merely “fashion” ― i.e., something that changes with the times ― but a form of design that is closely connected to our lives on a much more universal level was already apparent. Miyake has always explored the relationship between a piece of cloth and the body, and the space that is created as a result, unrestricted by any existing framework. In addition, along with his team of designers, he persistently undertakes research and development to create clothing that combines both innovation and comfort.

    This exhibition sheds light on Miyake’s ideas about making things and his approach to design by examining his entire career, from his earliest work to his latest projects, and his explorations of greater creative possibilities in the future. This exhibition provides viewers with an opportunity to expand the boundaries of their thought and stimulate their creativity, allowing everyone, young and old alike, to experience the joy of creation.

 

Artistic visions of the Delhi Zenana by J.P. Losty Curator of Visual Arts, Emeritus – British Library Blog

Three interesting portraits on ivory of Mughal ladies of the imperial zenana were acquired by the Visual Arts section in 2012, now numbered Add.Or.5719-5721.  All three were mounted in one frame with pasted down inscriptions below relating to the subject and the artist, while attached to the back of the frame were three envelopes which once contained the miniatures and which were written further particulars.  The paintings were sold in Delhi in these envelopes in 1900 by Sultan Ahmad Khan, who styles himself the son of one painter Muhammad Fazl Khan and grandson of another painter Muhammad ‘Azim, both of whom are named as artists in the inscriptions.  The purchaser must have put them into their present gilt frame and fortunately also preserved the various inscriptions and attestations.  All three are supposed to be portraits of some of the wives of the Mughal Emperor Akbar II (r. 1806-37).  For a more correct appreciation of who they might be, we rely on that invaluable on-line resource, The Royal Ark.  None of these ladies’ names unfortunately appears among the numerous wives of Akbar II, but that does not necessarily detract from the validity of the inscriptions of artistic interest.

 

See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/12/artistic-visions-delhi-zenana.html#sthash.XpaRep9e.dpuf

Further Delhi paintings on ivory by J.P. Losty, Curator of Visual Arts (Emeritus) – British Library Blog

Previous posts on the subject of late Mughal or Delhi miniature paintings on ivory have dealt with portraits, with which the Visual Arts collection is well endowed. Not so well represented in the earlier collection are topographical paintings on ivory, so it was especially gratifying to be able to acquire two superb examples of the genre during my time as Curator of Visual Arts.  See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2016/04/further-delhi-paintings-on-ivory.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+asian-and-african+%28Asia+and+Africa%29#sthash.wIWEDnVZ.dpuf

See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2016/04/further-delhi-paintings-on-ivory.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+asian-and-african+%28Asia+and+Africa%29#sthash.wIWEDnVZ.dpuf