Category Archives: culture

35 artists 70 works, in Stockholm untill the 1st June 2019 by Thanos Kalamidas

If you live in Stockholm Sweden or even if you visit the nymph of Scandinavia between the 20th of May and 1st of June don’t miss EU-MAN’s art exhibition in Hallunda Folkets Hus.

Stockholm is a world known city of tolerance and acceptance and the Scandinavian centre of artistic expression, the perfect place for the European Union Migrant Artists’ Network (EU-MAN) to present the biggest gathering of immigrant and guest artists in its history. 35 artists, most immigrants living in Europe adjoined with a number of fellow artists from Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, Kuwait and Iraq.

echibit02_400A celebration of colours and techniques balancing from the desert starfull nights to the Scandinavian gothic winters. 35 artists, over 70 works.

Behind this artistic marvel is one man, Amir Khatib. An artist and immigrant from Iraq who 22 years ago while looking for his place in the artistic mainstream of his host country, Finland, founded an organization that could unite and empower immigrant artists from all around Europe. EU-MAN was the first European Cultural Network found and established in Finland and despite all the constant obstacles (mostly from a hostile state) thrives and evolutes year after year.

Amir Khatib’s love and dedication to art and artists, has given a series of exhibitions all around Europe, from London to Helsinki, participation in art workshops in Finland, Turkey and Egypt and the establishment of a permanent exhibition place (EU-MAN gallery) in Helsinki Finland.

On top of that and under Mr Khatib’s supervision, the organization publishes the magazine Universal Colours, promoting art and artists, always introducing the work of artists partipicipating in EU-MAN.You can download all the issues of the magazine HERE!

The Stockholm 2019 exhibition is the second for the group for this year and the participants alphabetically are: Abuzeid Amal (Egypt) – Naima Acherkouk (Egypt) – Saad Al Falahi (Iraq) – Eman Anees (Egypt) – Nermin Askar (Egypt) – Fadwa Attia (Egypt) – Ronak Azeez  (Iraq) – Alyaa Aziz (Iraq) – Seamus Brogan (Irland) – Fadia Coeuru (Egypt) – Sameer Dheyaa (Iraq) – Shadia Elkoshairy (Egypt) – Ibrahim El Fichawy (Egypt) – Noha Ghorab (Egypt) – Reem Gohar (Egypt) – Miriam Hathout (Egypt) – Elvira Heilkevich (Russia) – Maha El Homossy (Egypt) – Thanos Kalamidas (Greece) – Samia Kamel (Egypt) – Amir Khatib (Iraq) – Baky Maged (Egypt) – Muhammad El Mahdy (Egypt) – Eldin Mohamed Mohey (Egypt) – Moustafa Soheir (Egypt) – Tomi Nabil (Iraq) – Mahmood Nadhum (Iraq) – Suhaila Al Najdi (Egypt) – Ali Najjar (Iraq) – Azdehar Osman (Iraq) – Sadek Nihad (Egypt) – Maha Sami (Egypt) – Bilal Al Skuti (Egypt) – Latifa Yousef (Palestine) – Heba Zohny (Egypt).

The ambassadors of Iraq and Morocco honoured the opening of the exhibition on the 20th of May while friends and art-lovers visit the place daily.

The exhibition takes place at: Hallunda Folkets Hus, Borgvägen 1 – 145 68 NORSBORG and it will be open till the 1st of June 2019.

A must see for whoever lives or visits Stockholm, these days.








You can download the full PDF catalogue of the exhibition HERE!

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The Most Selfish of Virtues: Alan Bennett’s Lady in the Van by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

It does seem specific. A middle class concern centred on a man and an elderly woman, a sort of surrogate, irritating mother type of indulgent wisdom and uncertain past, seemingly irritating yet, on some level, fulfilling. Alan Bennett writes prose that moves gracefully, a sort of tender glaze of tea, cocoa and the fire place. But it was Bennett who brought, into being, this figure who provided haunting teases, provocations and awareness.

van0001_400It’s all about a van, this un-priestly domain of living, and its indomitable occupant, a certain Miss Mary (or Margaret?) Shepherd, who proffers manners godly but prefers, often, a distinctly profane form of living. The van itself, poor condition, appears in Gloucester Crescent, north London. Movement followed, a kind of inexorable progression. Eventually, number 23 – Bennett’s residence – became a home. She would stay for fifteen years.

These are fifteen years that waver between emotions, though one is consistent. “One seldom was able to do her a good turn without some thoughts of strangulation,” remembers Bennett. During her stay, she is effusive about receiving “guidance from the Virgin Mary” and claims to being horrendously busy. She sells tracts. “I sell them, but so far as authorship is concerned I’ll say they are anonymous and that’s as far as I am prepared to go.”

She becomes a feature of Gloucester Crescent. For some, its pity – and these are given short shrift; then there the youths keen to get a look. Even police on the beat, as Bennett recalls, were happy to have their little stab of curiosity to “enliven a dull hour of their beat.” She becomes an object of village persecution, from stall holders to children. Drunks smash the windows of the van. The vehicle, at stages, is given a violent rocking. But she maintains, throughout, a degree of equanimity. She even has time to tell Bennett that she witnessed “a ginger feller I saw in Parkway in company with Mr Khrushchev. Has he disappeared recently?”

Then there is the sanitation – or its conspicuous lack of. Concealment and blame are the order of the day: Yardley dusting power is used generously; and, when in doubt, some other cause is identified as being responsible for the “Susie Wong”.

For Bennett, charity is not unadulterated. This, perhaps, is the lingering lesson of this encounter. He quotes, at the start of his account of Miss S in Writing Home, William Hazlitt’s observations in “On the Knowledge of Character” (1822): “Good nature, or what is often considered as such, is the most selfish of all virtues: it is nine times out of ten mere indolence of disposition.”

There is guilt, self-interest and anger in such a disposition. The repeated attacks and attention eventually see Miss S find her way into a form of tenancy in the garden, security that provides scant comfort for Bennett. He wanted “a quiet life as much as, and possibly more than, she did. In the garden she was at least out of harm’s way.”

For more HERE!

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Speculations on what happened to the adopted Yemeni children by Jay Gutman

I am about to give away a scoop. Some would say drop an H-bomb, given the history and nature of the scandal. But since no one really pays attention to all the other stuff I do, no one will pay attention to this one.

Part I

In the 1950s and 1960s and beyond, 1,053, mainly Israeli children of Yemeni descent, disappeared. The parents were told that the infant died. The parents were not given the child for burial and were sent home from the hospital. No death certificates were given.

The parents were struck with grief and incomprehension. Most parents being recent arrivals to Israel, they thought it was customary in Israel for the government or the hospital to bury stillborn or dead children, when the custom would be the burial by family with all the traditions that go with it. Some mothers and fathers had their doubts, and thought mistakes were made, as the child was born healthy. Some husbands even accused their wives of killing the baby because they had suspicions it was an adulterous baby.

yemeni001_400Over the years, grief struck families more or less organized, and protests were held in 1994, led by a Yemeni rabbi. The protests turned violent, led to the exchange of gunfire, one protestor was killed by snipers, and a dozen protestors, including the rabbi, were sent for lengthy terms in jail. The rabbi got 8 years.

5 Yemeni children resurfaced out of the 1,053, adopted by Ashkenazi families, whose foster families were specifically told not to tell their Yemeni child that he or she was an adopted child. It was mostly male babies who were given up for adoption. Another 60 or so are said to have been found, with question marks on the rest.

Where did the Yemeni children go? Here’s the scoop. They were adopted by Arab families from the Middle East. You heard me, Arab families from the Middle East. And I am one of them.

To avoid raising suspicions, the children were given up for adoption to Arab Muslim or Christian families from the Middle East who were expats living in Europe or North America or elsewhere, mostly diplomats. Adoption is illegal in all Muslim countries, and the Arab families’ extended families were to be kept in the dark about the adoption as adoption is illegal. So the children were given up for adoption to Arab expat families in Europe, North America, South America, who would tell their families back home that they had been pregnant.

Why Yemeni children? Because physically Yemeni children have the same complexion as Arabs from the Middle East, the Yemeni children could easily be confused as being the biological children of the Arab families.

The Yemeni children would often grow up as outcasts in their foster families from the Middle East, anywhere from Mauritania to Morocco to Algeria to Tunisia to Libya, Egypt or Jordan, Lebanon or Syria. Saudi Arabia tended to be avoided because Saudi Arabian diplomats tend to be posted for lengthy amount of periods abroad, never to move back to Saudi Arabia.

The rest of the Article, HERE!

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How to learn a foreign language by Jay Gutman

I want to learn French! I want to learn Spanish! I want to learn Japanese! Currently, the trend is to buy textbooks or tapes, or to watch language courses on YouTube and perhaps think that you will somehow pick up the language. But textbooks don’t teach you conversation, nor do they teach you how to use languages at the professional level or use a language at the academic level. So if anyone claims he or she learned a language by listening to tapes, you can detect fraud.

  1. Learning conversation

forein0001_400The problem with learning a language is that language and culture are intertwined. You basically have three types of culture: free cultures where the individual represents himself, tribal culture where the individual feels that he is representing his tribe and militarized cultures where the individual is representing his rank.

So if you’re learning the language of a free culture, you’re going to have to adjust to being an individual who does not represent his tribe or his rank. Why? Because if you constantly represent your tribe or your rank, you are not going to make a lot of friends and you will have no one to use the language with. Same goes if you learn the language or a tribal culture. If you’re constantly talking about yourself as an individual, you are not going to make many friends. If you learn the language of a militarized culture, you will lose a lot of friends if you don’t behave the way your rank tells you to behave.

Once you understand how the culture works, you can practice conversation slowly but surely with native speakers of the language. Now in a lot of foreign language schools abroad, you have foreign learners of the language practicing the language among themselves, but never really practicing with native speakers. That is at a Japanese language school in Japan for example, you will have non-Japanese people speaking Japanese amongst each other, but never really conversing with Japanese people.

The art of conversation varies greatly from culture to culture. In militarized cultures, there’s a great deal of gossip in conversations and honest conversations are only meant for friends. In tribal cultures, there’s a great deal of showing off in conversation and most of what is said will be exaggerated. In free cultures there’s a great deal of “report talk” meaning that conversations tend to center around reports of daily activities or information that was picked up here and there. In sum, you need to spend time observing groups having conversations before you engage in conversation yourself. That’s how you’ll find out, for example, that when the Chinese, Japanese or Koreans cough repeatedly, they are really hinting that you are being politically incorrect and need to change the direction of your thoughts.

  1. Learning professional language use

The more conversation you have the better. While everyone is familiar with the art of conversation, not every native speaker will be familiar with professional language use. Some native speakers can read and write fluently, give presentations, discuss and negotiate, while others are completely incapable of doing so.

So for professional language use, you will need to practice reading, writing, discussion, negotiation and presentation. Now most native speakers don’t read a lot, but reading comes naturally to them. So you will need to reach that point where reading is painless and effortless. That means you will have to be familiar with the local culture, and read a lot to get used to reading. Same goes for writing, as you will need to practice a lot of writing before you become familiar with it. Most languages differ in writing style, so you will have to get used to writing styles before you can read and write.

Discussion, negotiation and presentation also have a great deal of cultural elements to it. Furthermore, as a non-native speaker, expectations will differ depending on who you work for. Some will expect you to come up with your own negotiation style, while others will expect you to conform to local negotiation tactics.

  1. Learning academic language use

Taking a class on physics or history in a language that is not your native language will be complicated, as you would struggle with such a course in your own native language. Lecturing styles and testing styles differ a great deal from language to language, and you might struggle with those as well.

In Japan, absolute silence in the classroom is mandatory, and you are not allowed to squeak your chair, let alone ask the teacher a question. In Korea most teachers tend to be very assertive, almost to the point of being confrontational with students. In France, teachers tend to beat around the bush, and rarely give maximum points for anything. You could give a perfect answer, and yet only get 70% as your grade. Grades are negotiable in China and Korea, but non-negotiable in France. A lot of context is provided in the United States, while Asians will stick exclusively to what is in the textbook. American teachers give personal examples from their private life; most French teachers never discuss their private life or give personal examples.

In sum, for academic language use, you will have to learn how to write essays and read “boring” information on history or biology, but you will also have to get used to the academic system. Arab teachers yell a lot, Japanese teachers’ voices are barely audible.

So next time, think twice before you say “I want to learn French!” or “I speak French!”

Ovi magazine

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The Tyranny of Fashion: Shredding Banksy by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

The modern art world is filled with pranks and pranksters, the clowns who have decided that play counts for art. Brattish artists foist a range of projects and conceptual themes upon art galleries who, foolishly, see emperors decked in the finest wear. They refuse to consider that the wear is absent, an expensive mirage that tells to an old tale of the imperial ruler without clothes. 

brank01_400This is a world, of transaction, appearance and display, based on conceit and seduction, the toying by the super star artist of the necessarily gullible, and the acceptance on their part they are bearing witness to the exceptional. When Banksy’s Girl with Balloon was shredded at Sotheby’s (a sort of art styled seppuku), it was subsequently, and all too quickly, transformed into Love is in the Bin. Technicians in the room did not seem too fussed by the occurrence, and diligently went about their business of retouching the new piece for the market amidst nervous laughter and much tittering. Banksy’s own company Pest Control granted the work a new certificate. Another prank had been played.

The anonymous woman who had initially bid for the previous painting at the point of shredding found herself in raptures, but had to play along as initially shocked. (She may well have been, but this posture seemed distinctly contrived.) The £1,042,000 was well spent, thank you very much.  “When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked, but gradually I began to realise that I would end up with my own piece of art history,” came the observation from the buyer.

Marketing executive Stephanie Fielding feels that Sotheby’s would have been in on it. “One would hope in an age of security consciousness they would have known that such a contraption was inside the artwork.” Sotheby’s did little to dispel this notion, boasting that the new work had been “created in our salesroom”, and was “the first work in history ever created during a live auction.” Its employees also added to the tattle, a layering of playfulness. “I don’t think we knew,” came the guarded receptionist, “but we’re not allowed to say anymore.”

For more HERE!

Ovi magazine

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