Barcelona exhibits Islamic art

An exhibit showcasing Islamic art, organized in collaboration with The Aga Khan Trust for Culture, has opened in Barcelona. The CaixaForum exhibition, titled “The Worlds of Islam” runs through January 2010 and showcases, for the first time in Barcelona, 190 pieces bound by “the common denominator of the Arabic language and Muslim religion”, QNA reports.

The exhibit travels to Barcelona from Madrid, where the pieces were seen by 160,000 people. It contains 190 objects spanning 1,400 years of history, “artistic markers of a world that stretches from ancient Al-Andalus to India”.

Guerilla street artist Princess Hijab “hijabizes” advertisements in Paris

A young Paris-based guerilla street artist who calls herself Princess Hijab has been “hijabizing” advertisements, spray-painting veils and body-length chadors onto the lightly dressed models. The mysterious artist, who remains anonymous, says she is fighting Jihad through art.

In the online gallery of her “hijabizing” of ad campaigns, lightly clad models in ads for Virgin Music and various clothing companies have been re-dressed by the Princess in veils and chadors, their eyes popping out of face-covering hijabs. They are striking as much as they are irreverent, and they have caused anger in both Muslim and secular circles.

Princess Hijab claims that her hijab campaigns are not plastered on the streets of Paris as an act of “art for art’s sake”, but instead represent a part of what she calls “art propositions for a more global idea.” In this global idea, Princess Hijab pursues what she calls her “noble cause”, or her “anti-advertising movement” in an attempt to fight today’s mainstream and sexist consumerism.

Her works will be on display in an exhibition at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York between May 22 and August 29, 2009. The exhibition “The Seen and the Hidden: Dis_Covering the Veil” is going to show numerous pieces of art around the veil, including also Marjane Satrapi’s famous graphic novels and many other works of (Western) Muslim artists.

Princess Hijab’s websites:
Personal Website
MySpace Page

More information:
“The Seen and the Hidden: Dis_Covering the Veil”
May 22 to Aug 29, 2009
Austrian Cultural Forum, New York
Event Website

Confrontational Architecture: Europe’s Mosques Move from Back Alleys to Boulevards

There are plans to build several hundred new and often magnificent mosques throughout Europe — particularly in Germany. Architecture has become the field of a fierce ideological battle about the visibility of Europe’s 16 million Muslims. Just a few minutes ago, Mubashra Ilyas was still standing on her dusty construction site. Now the 30-year-old architect is striding through a gallery in the back courtyard of a building in Berlin’s Mitte district in elegant black boots. As the room slowly fills up, Ilyas continues to stand out: She’s the only woman wearing a headscarf. The topic of the evening’s discussion is “Mosques, Migration and Myth,” and Ilyas doesn’t want to miss it. She designed the first mosque to be built in eastern Berlin — the first in all of eastern Germany, in fact — and it’s just about finished. The official opening is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 16. The next few hours at Berlin’s Aedes Architecture Forum will be spent discussing the issues of how “back alley mosques” will soon become a thing of the past, the aesthetics of the new mosques and traditional versus modern styles. The real issue of debate, however, will be the fact that, stone by stone and minaret by minaret, Muslims in Germany want to become more visible — they are no longer content to have their places of worship largely hidden from public view. In architectural terms, they want to be part of the cityscape in a way they have never been before. Ulrike Knöfel reports.

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Just 50 allowed in to mosque inquiry

The public gallery at an inquiry over Dudley’s controversial _18million mosque plans will be limited to just 50 seats. Those who want to be at the hearing, scheduled to start on June 10 at 10am and last four-days, are now being urged to arrive early for a seat. The inquiry is being held after Dudley Muslim Association lodged an appeal against the council’s decision to reject their plans for for a mosque and community centre on derelict land in Hall Street. A total of 70 petitions containing more than 22,000 signatures have been handed to the council from people protesting against the plans. There is expected to be scores of people vying to be in the public gallery but the council will have to turn some away. People wishing to speak during the course of the inquiry are also warned they need to contact the council by June 7 to register their intention or they will not be allowed to have their voice heard. Dudley Council spokesman Phil Parker said: “The inspectorate, however, makes it clear that if there are several people with the same views a spokesperson should be appointed to speak on behalf of the others to avoid repetition of arguments.” At the start of the inquiry the inspector will outline the formal procedure. The barrister appointed by Dudley Muslim Association will make a number of opening remarks followed by the council’s barrister. Witnesses for both parties will give evidence and will be open to cross examination. After closing statements, the inspector will close the inquiry and then carry out a site visit, during which there will be no further discussion.

Risky Satire: Berlin Exhibition Closes after Muslim Threats

A Berlin gallery has closed an exhibition of satirical art by the controversial Danish group Surrend after receiving threats from a group of Muslims. The men were objecting to a picture of the Kaaba at Mecca under the title “Dumb Stone.” Eighteen months ago, the severed head of Muhammad was enough to get an opera temporarily cancelled (more…) in Berlin. This time around, it’s an irreverent image of the Kaaba in Mecca that has caused an exhibition in the German capital to shut its doors. But there is one major difference between the two incidents: Whereas the mere spectre of possible attacks was enough to get the Deutsche Oper to put the kibosh on a Mozart opera in 2006, Berlin’s Galerie Nord closed its doors this week after a group of Muslims walked into the gallery and threatened staff with violence. “It was a very explosive situation,” Jan Egesborg, whose satirical art group Surrend created the Galerie Nord exhibition, told Spiegel Online. “We don’t want to be part of the current Islamophobic tendency in Europe. We weren’t trying to provoke Muslims.” The exhibition, called “ZOG — Surrend,” opened last Friday and was scheduled to run until the end of March. Conceived by the controversial Danish satirical art group, it included a picture of the black, cube-shaped Kaaba in the Muslim holy city of Mecca. Above the image, a headline read “Dumb Stone.” Gallery manager Ralf Hartmann decided on Tuesday to shut down the show after six men believed to have been Muslims turned up demanding that the image be removed. The men reportedly threatened the staff with violence should they not comply. David Gordon Smith reports.

Berlin gallery in Islam art row

A Berlin gallery displaying an art piece that makes fun of the Islamic shrine of the Kaaba in Mecca, has temporarily closed the exhibit after receiving threats. The exhibit, organized by the Danish group Surrend, is critical of religious extremism. The piece receiving criticism is a poster displaying the Kaaba with the words “stupid stone” superimposed in German.

Artists too frightened to tackle radical Islam

Britain’s contemporary artists are f_ted around the world for their willingness to shock but fear is preventing them from tackling Islamic fundamentalism. Grayson Perry, the cross-dressing potter, Turner Prize winner and former Times columnist, said that he had consciously avoided commenting on radical Islam in his otherwise highly provocative body of work because of the threat of reprisals. Perry also believes that many of his fellow visual artists have also ducked the issue, and one leading British gallery director told The Times that few major venues would be prepared to show potentially inflammatory works. Ben Hoyle reports.

Niqab in court

Sir, The Judicial Studies Board has added to what it calls the Equal Treatment Bench Book guidance to judges and others on wearing in court the Muslim niqab, which involves the full covering of the woman’s face (Court veil approval, April 25 ). The guidance says (oddly) that to ask for the removal of this veil would likely serve to exclude and marginalise further women with limited visibility in courts and tribunals. The guidance says that if the veil is required to be removed the woman’s discomfiture may be lessened by clearing the public gallery, and asks for the court to be cleared of anyone other than those strictly involved with the case. This advice is of doubtful legality, since it contravenes the open court rule laid down in Scott v Scott (1913), where Lord Halsbury said every court of justice is open to every subject of the King. The advice is likely to cause resentment among members of the public affected. I suggest it should be withdrawn. FRANCIS BENNION Former parliamentary counsel; author of Statutory Interpretation Budleigh Salterton, Devon