Among the special events at this edition:
OCCUPIED PLEASURES by Tanya Habjouqa: the first Italian exhibition of the Palestinian photographer, on stage at Aria Art Gallery in Florence (11 April-11 May 2014).
Tanya Habjouqa is a recipient of the Magnum Foundation 2013 Emergency Fund and with this project has just won World Press Photo 2014. OCCUPIED PLEASURES explores those rare moments of respite for Palestinians living under arduous political and economic conditions, which have shaped their lives and identities for decades, and will be presented for the first time in Italy as special event of Middle East Now 2014. From a besieged Gaza where a five-minute boat ride is the epitome of freedom for a generation of youth imprisoned in a densely populated enclave to women stretching in yoga positions against the West Bank hills on outskirts of Bethlehem. Despite the inability of Palestinians to maintain and sustain a “normal way of life,” and amidst this jarring reality, men, women and children often manage to steal moments of simple joys – quirky, modest moments of happiness that range from taking a spin on a merry go-around to taking a horse ride, or imagining a tropical adventure all the while standing against a colorful back drop with a live parakeet in a modest studio in a refugee camp. In humor there is often sadness, longing for more possibility. OCCUPIED PLEASURES brings together glimmers of hope, dignity and laughter; all of which override the emblematic stresses of an occupied reality.
PERSIA MON AMOUR, a project by Edoardo Delille & Jacopo Storni especially conceived and produced by Middle East Now Festival 2014.
A reportage and a photographic exhibition on Iranians living in Florence, that will be on stage in an unusual location of the city, the sophisticated Boralevi Carpet Gallery in Via Maggio 16/r, from 12 to 28 April 2014. Florence has one of the largest community of Iranians in Italy, a community which has more than 1,000 residents (the highest concentration of Iranian citizens for an Italian city), and among these there is also a very large community of students and young people. The project by the photographer artist Edoardo Delille and the journalist Jacopo Storni (Corriere della Sera) will represent the microcosm of the “Iranians of Florence” through a series of 20 portraits: images that recount their stories, depicting two worlds so far so close, about love and hate for Iran, “a country veiled and oppressed, unique and unforgettable”. For them Iran does not mean nuclear energy, Iran means “ta’arof”. They say that Florence is their future, but Persia knocks at the door of their hearts.
THE COMIC CITY OF BEIRUT
IED – Istituto Europeo di Design di Firenze (Via Bufalini, 6/r)
10 April – 30 April
Exhibition Opening Thursday 10 April_06.00pm
The presentation of new issue of the Middle East Now Magazine in collaboration with IED European Institute of Design in Florence: the magazine of the festival is dedicated to “The Comic Life of Beirut”, to the absurdities and paradoxes of daily life in one of the most vibrant capital of the Middle East as seen through the pencil of two of the most talented Lebanese illustrators – Raphaelle Macaron and Joseph Kai – who will talk with irony about the contradictions of living in Beirut. And their drawings will be protagonists of an exhibition on stage at the IED in Florence.
_ The participation of BROWNBOOK, the magazine dedicated to contemporary culture in the Middle East, will present in Florence its Urban Series by Brownbook, video portraits of personalities and creative minds from the world of art and contemporary Middle Eastern lifestyle. Brownbook will contribute also to the talk “Creativity in the contemporary Middle East: video, graphics, food and design”, in partnership with CCCS Palazzo Strozzi (Thursday, April 10 at 6.30pm ). Brownbook magazine will be also special partner in supporting the first concert in Italy of the famous Lebanese indie-rock band Mashrou’ Leila (Friday, April 11th, 10.00pm at Auditorium Flog – Florence).
_ The project SOUND MIDDLE EAST NOW: the music will have a special place in this year’s festival , through the presentation of a selection of “best of” from the music videos from all over the Middle East and North Africa, which will take to the big screen works which represent creativity and visual storytelling; a project curated by Iranian musician and DJ Saeed Aman. Among the video clips: “Lil Watan” by Mashrou Leila (Lebanon), ” No Woman No Drive” by Alaa Wardi & Hisham Fageeh (Saudi Arabia), “Wa Ollak Eh” by Hamza Namira (Egypt) then the Iranian singer Niaz Nawab with “Raft or Gozasht” and many others.
_ The installation MIDDLE EAST CUISINE BOOKS, curated by the group of architects Archivio Personale, which brings at the Odeon Cinema a selection of the best cuisine books from North Africa and the Middle East.