Friday, September 18, 2009

Yes we have more kufiyas

Ayad Alkadhi is an Iraqi artist, one of many, many Arab and Muslim artists who have used Arabic calligraphy in their work, who has done some interesting pieces using calligraphy and kufiyas. These are from his "I am Baghdad" series. He says about the series: "I view the portraits as interviews, wherein Baghdad citizens express their feelings about post-occupation Iraq." What do you think this citizen is saying?

Is the kufiya here a mask? A blinder? A restraint?

And what about this one?!

In the middle of the skull are the words, عودة ذاكرة الكفاح or, "Return of the memory of the struggle," circled in red. Thoughts?

Kufiya kitsch.

Thanks to Arang Keshavarzian for these photos of kufiya bracelets, on sale right now at the Chelsea Art Museum in New York City. Chelsea! Someone please buy one and send it to me. I'll pay you back!

What the Chelsea lacks, unfortunately, are green kufiya bracelets, for wear at rallies in support of the Iranian democracy movement. Hopefully, someone will fill the gap.

Kufiya out of plastic handcuffs.

This item from Yves Gonzalex-Quijano, author of the invaluable blog, Culture et polititique arabes. (He also publishes a blog in English that translates some of the original French material.) It's a photo of an installation (?) by Rana Bishara, called Kuffiyah for Prisoners, made of out plastic handcuffs that are used for prisoners. It's part of a great exhibit of contemporary Palestinian art, currently at the Institut du monde arabe in Paris. Check out the other work too, by Kamal Boulatta and Emily Jacir, among others. I particularly like the stunning still from Sherif Waked's video, "Chic Point: Fashion for Israeli Checkpoints."

Sorry, it's a bit hard to make out the kufiya image in the Bishara piece. But you get the idea. Go here for another view.


This is the name of a leftwing Swedish prog/folk band that released an album of Swedish folk-rock/Palestinian music in 1976, called Palestina mitt land (فلسطين بلدي) or "Palestine is my land." You can download it here. Give it a listen. I am fairly familiar with Swedish roots music and with Palestinian "folk" music, and I'm not really convinced that the mix works all that well. I like the Swedish folk instrumental bits the best. A little to earnest sounding at times.

I've not been able to find out much about Kofia, except that it was from Göteberg, and that it released 4 albums. Palestine solidarity was very big on the Swedish left, and the European left in general, during the sixties and seventies. And Palestine solidarity is of course still strong in Sweden. I was told that for Swedes, the word kofia simply and unambiguously means Palestinian scarf.

Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew: Hip-Hop from Sierra Leone

Kufiyas aren't just about hipness and/or Palestine solidarity in the US and Europe and Jamaica, it seems that they are also big in Sierra Leone. At least that's what I conclude from these photos I ran across on The Afrobeat Blog. Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew are hip-hop artists from Sierra Leone. Did they get the idea of the kufiyas from US hipsters? From Palestinian freedom fighters? From US hip-hop artists? From the Jamaican scene? All of the above?

Please check out their mixtape. And read about them here and here.

Bajah has an album reportedly coming out soon in the US, including kufiya-spotted guest ?uestlove. And Talib Kweli, who must have put one on at some point, right?

1 comment:

Alexander said...
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