Friday, August 22, 2014

You are the aqal that is the pride of your people Allah we will level the enemy's necks....

Here's one of the exhibits at the New Museum's show of contemporary art from and about the Arab world, Adel Abidin's Three Love Songs. It consists of three videos, one lounge, one jazz, one pop, featuring non-Arabic speaking singers who don't know what they were singing. The lyrics are from songs commissioned by Saddam Hussein to glorify him and his regime. Above are a couple of choice lyrics. (An aqal is the black cord that Arab men use to keep their kufiyas in place.)

The juxtaposition of lovely blonde women singing such lyrics...

and I quote from the description: 'It is this uncomfortable juxtaposition – between the lush visual romanticism and the harsh meaning of the lyrics, between the seduction of the performer and comprehension of the viewer – that forms the main conceptual element of this work.'

See excerpts from the vids and read about the sound installation here.

Here are links to a couple Saddam Hussein music videos, courtesy Frontline.

And for an introduction to some of the really great music produced during the Saddam era, I highly recommend the Choubi Choubi! collections produced by Sublime Frequencies. Volume 1 for now is out of stock, but I'm sure you could find one somewhere. Volume 2, only released on LP, was released this year, and is available. Really essential for your collection.

Here's a sample from Volume 1:

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