Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Edge of Arabia: Arabic women in the contemporary art scene

As we know, nowadays Russians and Chinese are ruling contemporary art scene, Europeans and Americans will be always there and Latin Americans make feel their presence even if the most memorable works are from the 1950’s or back in the 1990’s; but what about the Arabic world, the art known in the western world only comes to Arabic design in the mosques and calligraphy without forgetting some rare private collections of contemporary art like the one from The Kinda Foundation Collection.

I was pleased to be able to visit an art contemporary exhibition at SOAS London Age of Arabia , a small one but representative of the Saudi Arabia contemporary art scene.

Saudi Arabia a Country ruled by a monarchy, where the existence of politic parties is nil, a feudal system is still imposed and ruled by the Sharia. The population is restricted from certain artistic manifestations like the cinema, since it is seem as not compatible with the Islamic tradition.

It is extraordinary that under all this and more conditions a contemporary art practice is held. Also it is the technique, the plasticity of the pieces as the mix techniques used are completely contemporary. And in the content different subjects are treated and questioned as the transcendence, believe, woman, human kind, worldlessness, Islam, actual position of arabic culture among humanity, etc.

Being a woman I was especially attracted to, Al-Dowayan work and the condition in which she works, a female artist that has lived for most of her life in a semi-enclosed camp in Dhahran and works full time for a national oil company, but also has experience the life abroad in USA and UK.

She portraits with great beauty, women and relates them to male professions; she builds polar images using heavy made up models holding or using paraphernalia of different male professions. The extreme beauty in which she present this images turn them strong and powerful in meaning owe to the contradiction held by the models using the hijab, their femininity and the relation to male professions and the context in where they are photographed Saudi Arabia. She questions the role of women in the Saudi Arabia society and their role according to the Sharia law.

Although the internet, other media, and the influence of Dubai that is opening towards modernization have helped a transition in Saudi art and made possible to display Saudi art in the country, censorship still exists as Al-Dowayan says, in an interview with Henry Hemming “I cannot produce an artwork without thinking ten times about how society, as I understand it, will react to it.”

When action is no longer possible and the space for action is usurped, resistance becomes the primary vehicle of spontaneity and agonistic subjectivity. Saudi Arabian contemporary artists, in the country and abroad are opening a dialogue among the Saudi Arabia society, Arabic – Muslim world and western world. . In order to achieve an preserve a plurality, its voices should be heard and kept away from the normalizing forces of consensus and contempt.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Female masturbation

Chatting with a female friend older than 25, virgin for private and religious matters I found out she didn’t know anything about female masturbation, she thought that women in order to masturbate need a dildo. This girl is a highly educated person anyway her knowledge on the topic is virtually nil.


She is a Muslim so I asked what does the Islam say about masturbation and she also ignored it, she has never thought about it before. So I research on the Internet to find out more about it, the only thing I could found was a guy speaking about it on a You Tube video. He explains how it is dangerous for females to Masturbate because of the fragility of the hymen and they just need to wait patiently for sexual pleasure until they get married (if they are lucky enough); this just shows that this topic is surrounded by ignorance; not only on the highly religious societies, but also in the western world.


Lately we can watch on movies and TV series the mass media version about female masturbation like in Sex and the City, but it always includes a dildo. Imagine that women where only able to masturbate themselves only after the XVIII century, when the first dildo was invented because of all the Female Hysteria cases; information could had prevented a lot of work to Freud and his followers.


The word dildo, the word in English has a unknown origin, but the etymology could be from the Italian diletto, little darling or delight or from the old English dyderian , meaning to cheat or deceive; in French godemiché etimology comes from miche meaning I enjoy and finally Spanish the word to name a dildo, vibrador, meaning vibrator; anyway in the romance languages we can also find the word consolador or consolateur, giving the impression that something doesn’t go well so the women need to be comforted or consoled, backing the common taboo about women, sex and female masturbation. There is common to hear that a woman is angry because “she is not getting lay enough” and this expression is almost impossible to be heard about a man. And if female masturbation is talk about is because the girl is single, this doesn’t happen to guys who it is seem as natural to masturbate. This impression of loneliness and neediness or even worse perversion is deeply rooted in our society.


Finally, Female Masturbation slang is almost inexistent, at least women aren’t the one using it, because there are not women chatting on this subject but the ones shown on TV; on the other hand there are thousands and thousands of terms to call the male masturbation: manual job, monkey slapping, yanking, wank off, jerk off, jacking off… (endless list)


So ladies don’t be afraid of your sexuality and to talk about it, give yourselves some pleasure, learn what you like and you don’t like. It is very useful to know yourselves because sometimes guys do not know what they are doing in bed. You will be happier and have a better sex life.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Be Afraid Of China!!!


Western world tremble! Be afraid of China! China is not only a huge country, with a great working population, increasing economic power and the biggest diaspora all over the world but it is also becoming a nest for the most gifted contemporary artists.


The exhibition “The Revolution Continues: New Chinese Art.” Is being held at Saatchi Gallery in London. More than 50 pieces of 28 Chinese Artist are being shown, it ‘s not just impressive the production and the talent that China has given to the world but the master of the technique, the quantity of production and quality of their work.

The Chinese artists manage perfectly well the occidental and the oriental matters; they represent on their work several social, historical and cultural issues. What makes extremely attiring this exhibition is to know the sarcastic, direct, rude, impolite and sometimes aggressive gaze of orient towards the western world. 


They expose different topics on their work; a refusal of to the mass media factory on the work of Feng Zhengjie, they challenge  the collective memory with pieces like Wedding from Li Qing. As well the society, its current rules and history proposing a different one with Shi Xinning work and the way community relationships are imposed in Communication by Cang Xi. Their work has clearly rapports to how politics are held in both orient and occident, religion and the supposed superiority of western world in culture, economy and society, nevertheless they make a huge critique to the cultural, social and religious values of the western world and the supposed sexual freedom in occident.


They create a revolution with the ordinary; an interstice for human relations and the possibility of a interchange in human matters that has being denied for centuries between this two cultures; they create a space for the dialogue, other than the one in the current system that is mainly managed by economic issues and the polarity of their ideologies.

The well-educated western audience is shocked and challenged by every room thanks to the excellent work done by the curator and the conditions of the gallery. The provocative nature of the Chinese contemporary art, creates a short circuit on the European audience that is obliged to stare, look away or just take a quick glance. Even if the pieces are numerous, the exhibition is not tiring, the tension is kept and the excitement in the audience is held.


This exhibition cannot be missed is overwhelming, exiting and shocking, it over passed any expectations I could have had. 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Some Hope?

After my opinion about Italy, someone has given me some hope, some active Italians have create a site called “Not Speaking in my name” almost 1000 pictures of people with a sing “I’m Italian and Berlusconi is not speaking in my name” is the content of this site; we can also read:
This website does not have political party affiliations. It is a spontaneous gathering of Italians that feel embarrassment and indignation in being represented by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his Government. We believe that our representation in politics is a serious matter. It needs to be faced with rigour and seriousness. Mr. Berlusconi, when you speak, you should represent the entire Italian population

This is a small sample of Italians that hopefully will grow for their own sake. They have to take action if not it would be just an individual and meaningless expression of disagreement. They have to gather and become more numerous work on becoming a better country not only on the economic aspect but on the social one where everything can be changed; this change have to come from the youth and break with the status quo that has driven them for a long time, is not an easy task to do but possible.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Televisa fighting the economic crisis with spots

Today on You Tube I found a very interesting video, that full fills me with uncertainty, not only because I can’t find out the clear and deep purpose of it but because I can’t either find out how they arrived to produce this poor content. Televisa, the biggest television company in Mexico, after the crisis has produced one minute spot, address to all the Mexicans, in which it invites them to bear and fight the economic crisis.

Several soap opera actors and show hosts, both men and women, dressed in costumes in front of a white back address some words of encouragement to the audience.

Piano and Violin music sound in the back of the voices raising its emotion at the end.

The actors pronounce a speech on turns, going from medium close ups, to close ups ending with a wide shot with all of them and some kids dressed in white.

The actors seem to be chosen by their popularity among the audience, most of them have a prime time show, also by the behavior in their private lives (some cases), they are an example for the society, good people, good husbands and wives, good mothers and fathers…. (tear)

Spot Test

- Today the world is crossing a very huge economic crisis, which is also affecting Mexico.

- But no matter how huge it is, it will never ever be as big as us.

- Think about it. It doesn’t exist a single moment in our history where a problem has been greater than our heart.

- And even less that all our hearts united.

- Of the earthquakes we have risen

- We have come out of floods.

- And from the other economic crises, we have recovered. How?

- Doing what we know to do better than nobody.

- To jump into it with both feet; with all our heart.

- So today when you listen somebody saying that this economic crisis is very huge

- Answear, that greater is the love for our country, greater is the desire to give our children a better future than we never ever had.

- Very greater it is our effort

- And Gigantic it is our heart

- For Mexico!!!

The tautology comes from the original text; it is full of repetition and colloquial expressions, it has been simply written, to be understood by everybody. It seems to be address to an audience with low education profile. The text is read with passion and emotion. All the speech makes allusion to: us (Mexicans), heart (Mexican Heart) and makes reference to mayor natural disasters in Mexico.

The spot, due to its patronizing content has caused numerous reactions:

  1. Indignation among the public.
  2. Laughs.
  3. Some have just ignored it.
  4. And curiosity among the people who cannot understand its purpose.

The only purposes I could find were: the reduction of taxes for the company, and to fulfill its social responsibility duty.

It looks like Televisa trust blindly in the Hypodermic Needle Theory (implied mass media had a direct, immediate and powerful effect on their audiences) The Mexican audience is used to this kind of spots, this doesn’t mean they have the wished effect on them, and it has been shown by the reactions.

This sort of spots have been produced and transmitted since the television arrived to Mexico, so the audience is well trained and becoming more critic about them; one example is Solidaridad 1992 (that where spots produced to communicate to the audience the benefits of this governmental program, but they were surely more subtle and better written)

So Televisa you should better chose the words you address to your audience, hire professional employees if your aim is to brainwash people in favor to the goverment in the presidential chair, you’re disappointing me, I though you were really committed with research, or is only useful to try Soap Operas and Reality Shows? Please show some respect to your audience.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Giovane, bello e bronzato

Isn’t it incredible the people who rule the countries in this World? I lived for a while in Italy. I Arrived with the Dolce Vita spirit …handsome guys, good food, easy going people, beautiful landscape, amazing cities, family values, etc

But I found myself in a country that is living in the past, in the renaissance, middle age, Roman Empire or Etruscan civilization depending on the touristy attraction of the zone. They have huge internal problems not only in the bureaucracy, government and mafia issues, but also in civic matters.

It is a society that is becoming old even among the youth. The young people supports the extreme right wing party and its ideology. How is it possible that nobody expressed any indignation and elect as prime minister a man that has been accused of several crimes and has strong links with the mafia?


Later they kept silence while the Legge Alfaro (Alfaro Law. The four main leaders of the state cannot be judged by any crime non related to its position while they remain in the government) was approved.


Il Cavaliere is owner of the whole country; he is one of the richest men on Italy. He controls the three public channels RAI and indirectly Mediaset (90% of the whole channel offer). Also owns the football team AC Milan.


The strongest party Popolo della Llibetà, that is a coalition among different parties, has as chairman to Silvio Berlusconi, and leaded him to became once more the prime minister of Italy.


The Italian people do not ignore any of these facts. They like: watching call girls life on open channels after 11p.m, closed borders that will fight against the evil army (Illegal immigrants who would be treated as criminals, 18 months in jail and then deported). And the abolition of rates tax on family homes (sounds like mafia business). I wonder how is Italy part of the G8 and European Union?


Yesterday Il Cavaliere described the elected president of USA as “giovane, bello e bronzato “ (young, handsome and suntanned). The first minister of Italy, is unable to understand that his favorite country in the whole world has a black president or is he in denial?  It would be a shock for him after Bush administration when understanding was almost spiritual; How are going to be the relation between this two countries now on? The government and the Italian people as number one fans of USA would be able to put up with an American Black President?



Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Have a Dream.....

Yes We Can... Yes We Could...
Hoy 5 de noviembre hemos despertado con la noticia que los EE UU tienen su primer presidente negro/mulato (como gusten llamarlo), a sólo 40 años del asesinato de Martin Luther King. Podríamos pensar que los EEUU avanzan a pasos agigantados no únicamente en cuestión económica (a pesar de la reciente crisis) pero también social.

Hoy al haberse reconocido el triunfo de Barack Obama sobre John McCain, no podemos dar por sentado que el pensamiento de los ciudadanos de Estados Unidos de América está evolucionando. Hace apenas 4 años el mismo pueblo se dirigió a las urnas y reeligió a Geroge W. Bush después de haber declarado la guerra al terrorismo e invadir Irak; los votantes llenos de orgullo, patriotismo y "sin crisis económica" votaron por el candidato republicano para mantenerlo en su cargo por 4 años más.

Al parecer el tema de estas elecciones no fueron el orgullo, patriotismo y miedo al “terrorismo”, sino el color de piel, el sueño americano y la búsqueda de una nueva imagen para la nación norte americana.

Otros factores que influyeron para que el candidato demócrata lograra vencer a su oponente.

  • BUSH.
  • Sarah Palin.
  • La tibia personalidad de John McCain.
  • La ausencia de propuesta o reacción por parte del candidato Republicano ante la crisis financiera.
  • Una excelente estrategia de marketing. Conocimiento exacto del producto (Barack Obama), de la situación actual, el objetivo, su oponente, su target (potenciales votantes, de sectores y etnias menos privilegiadas del país) y el mensaje.
  • La carga de idealismo y sentimentalismo en su discurso
  • Alusión a símbolos y valores universales.
  • La poca criticidad que caracteriza a la Sociedad Americana.

El resultado en votos populares (tomando en cuenta el 100% de los votantes) fue del 53% contra el 46% , sólo con una diferencia de 7% del total de votantes, la mitad del país sigue siendo republicano y tan leal a la ideología de este partido que votaron por alguien como McCain y Sarah Palin.

Fuera quién fuera el candidato Demócrata digase Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama o Bugs Bunny, lo mínimo que podía esperarse de la sociedad americana era elegir como presidente a un demócrata.

Espero que realmente la sociedad Americana esté cambiando y no sólo sea el rebote de la administración Bush. I HAVE A DREAM … que el mundo se vuelva un poco más crítico… no hubo tanto alboroto por el triunfo de Mandela, y esa si fue una victoria.

Caipiroska llegó.

Durante años, me negué a tener más que un e-mail, aunque prácticamente desde los 7 años he tenido una computadora en mis manos, y soy parte de la generación Y !(and why is it Y?, sólo porque va después de la X? que poca imaginación) nací a principios de los ochenta.

Con el tiempo tuve 2, 3, 4 cuentas de mail, msn, skype, hi5, tagged, facebook..... Y ahora me uno al mundo de los bloggers ;) Más vale tarde que nunca! Un gusto estar aquí.