Last night was the launch party for the new issue of Bidoun. There was ice cream & beer & issues for sale, but given that we do the art direction I just grabbed a few and legged it. You’ll find it on newsstands soon, but in the meantime…
The new issue of Bidoun coincides with & comments upon Museum as Hub: The Bidoun Library Project, an exhibition recently seen at the New Museum.
The Bidoun Library Project, organized by the magazine Bidoun: Arts and Culture From the Middle East, at the New Museum, is a highly partial account of five decades of printed matter in, near, about, and around the Middle East. Arrayed along these shelves are pulp fictions and propaganda, monographs and guidebooks, and pamphlets and periodicals, on subjects ranging from the oil boom to the Dubai bust, the Cold War to the hot pant, Pan-Arabs to Black Muslims, revolutionaries to royals, and Orientalism to its opposites.
Each copy features a unique photograph glued to the cover — the photographs were purchased by the thousands from the flea markets of Cairo. Some are warped and old, others glossy and new. Prior to this issue’s production, no one at the magazine had seen the full range of images; they went directly from Egypt to the printer. So it was a delight to receive unpack the copies and sift through them, trying to select our favorites, discovering unexpected quirks (”this one’s still got a staple hanging from it!”).
The exhibition consisted of hundreds (thousands? tens of?) books, a material history collated into themes. Some abstruse, some broad, all rigorously sloppy. Endless. Many of these books found their way back into the design of the magazine.
Running through the issue is the catalogue, designed (by Bidoun proper, separate from us) for the New Museum exhibition. The magazine operates as a footnote for the catalogue, which in turn was built as a series of footnotes for the exhibition.
There are fireworks, too!