We Review Four New Books On Middle Eastern Art, Femininity And Empowerment

BY Ayesha Sohail Shehmir Shaikh / Sep 25 2019 / 12:18 PM

If art could speak what would it say? Bazaar Art takes a look at the latest tomes you need on your coffee table

We Review Four New Books On Middle Eastern Art, Femininity And Empowerment
We Review Four New Books On Middle Eastern Art, Femininity And Empowerment
Courtesy of ITP images
An inside spread of Body Shop by Farah Al Qasimi

Sad Sack
Taking inspiration from American author Ursula K. Le Guin’s essay entitled The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction from 1986, this tome explores London-based artist Sophia Al-Maria’s decade of collected writings from stories read at Art Dubai to previously unpublished works such as a poem called Kynomartyrion. “At times I feel Sad Sack serves to elucidate (white western) femininity with all its support systems and rubrics—as a vehicle for some of the fakest news of all,” writes London-based curator Taylor Le Melle, in the opening chapter.

Included are Al-Maria’s writings on topics ranging the internet in chapter TBH IDK FTW to gendercide in We Swing Out Over the Earth. Al-Maria’s work has been exhibited at the Gwangju Biennale, the New Museum in New York and the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London.

Written by Sophia Al-Maria. Edited by Lizzie Homersham. Published by Book Works. bookworks.org.uk

An inside spread of Sad Sack

Body Shop
New York and Dubai-based artist Farah Al Qasimi highlights topics of personal identity, power, gender and class through the vivid imagery featured in this 98-page spread publication. Body Shop presents a survey of the artist’s photographs, depicting the wavering definitions of beauty in the Gulf region that have been influenced by advertisements and unrealistic displays of perfection, particularly in Dubai.

An inside spread of 
Body Shop

In certain works, Qasimi herself poses as the subject, changing her skin tone using Photoshop and whitening products to evoke societal representations of aesthetics and the anxieties associated with the need to constantly reinvent appearance as a result of shifting ideals. “Wading through the tensions between (supra-)national and individual self-fashioning, these works present the indulgences in (and consequences of) the mutability of beauty,” writes Ghayde Ghraowi, New York City and Beirut-based scholar of Arabic and comparative literature. “[Her subjects] are spaces and bodies, contrastingly shaped by desire from within and without the Gulf.”

Published by Silent Face Projects with Dashwood Books. Printed by GHP Media. silentface.org

Hayv Kahraman
The 144 pages of this tome feature an in-depth look into the work of Los Angeles-based Iraqi artist Hayv Kahraman, marking the first monograph dedicated to the artist. Included are works from 2006 to 2017, highlighting themes of diasporic communities, identity, gender, personal and collective memory. The topics hit close to home for the artist, who was displaced from her hometown of Baghdad at a young age. Through the ethereal figures in her work, the artist narrates these personal experiences.

An inside spread of Hayv Kahraman

“I fled Iraq at the age of 11 at the end of the first Gulf war in 1992,” Kahraman says in the opening interview. “Wherever I lived after that, I was defined as an ‘other’.” The artist’s work has been exhibited globally including at the Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates, Istanbul Modern in Turkey and the State Museum of Contemporary Art in Greece.

Written by Wassan Al-khudhairi, Octavio Zaya and Walter Mignolo. Edited by Loren Olson. Published by Rizzoli Electa. rizzoliusa.com

The Most Powerful Woman In The Room Is You
Spanning 278 pages, inside this cerise pink hardcover tome are words from an industrious mind on overcoming fears, excelling and taking control in life—whether it be in the office or in personal life. The author, Lydia Fenet, shares insights into her world taking the reader on a two-decade-long journey from her role as an intern to her present day role as Managing Director and Global Head of strategic Partnerships at Christie’s.

An inside spread of The Most Powerful Woman In The Room Is You

“The most powerful woman in the room goes after whatever she wants to ensure she lives the life she wants to live,” she writes. “If you keep your eye on the prize and stay focused, you can achieve more than you ever dreamed was possible.” Having raised over half a billion dollars for global non-profit organisations, the author reveals her secrets to success and empowerment including the innovative sales approach she has mastered over the years which has tremendously shaped her aspirational mentality and career.

Written by Lydia Fenet. Published by Gallery Books. simonandschusterpublishing.com/gallery-books