ART GLOSSARY – B

National Museum of Qatar © Iwan Baan, Courtesy of the National Museum of Qatar
In this issue, we go back to basics and review definitions of frequently (or infrequently) words in the art world while referencing art from the MENASA region.

IN THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES, YOU’LL DISCOVER AN ALPHABETICAL LIST OF ART-RELATED WORDS PAIRED WITH ARTWORKS THAT BEST ILLUSTRATE EACH WORD’S MEANING. ALL WORKS ARE BY MIDDLE EASTERN ARTISTS WHO HAVE LEFT AN INDELIBLE IMPRINT UPON THE INTERNATIONAL ART SCENE.

B~~~

B MOVIE

A low-budget, genre-based cinematic effort in exploitation often appealing to an audience’s most prurient sensibilities, sometimes referred to colloquially as “the lowest common denominator.” During the Golden Age of Hollywood, this type of film was used as a secondary attraction, a reinforcement to another movie that is considered of greater importance and value. The B stands for the flip side of a double feature. Although sometimes in the mind of the zeitgeist the “B” might just as well stand for “bad.”

In Iranian cinema before 1979, there was a movement known as Filmfarsi. For example, The Nuclear Baby and 1999 by Jalal Fatemi. It was an era in which Iranian cinema boomed, inspired by Bollywood movies and paving the way for a plethora of poorly produced films filled with drama, dance and catchy songs.

The Nuclear Baby (1990) by Jalal Fatemi. © Working Eyes, 1990.
The Nuclear Baby (1990) by Jalal Fatemi. © Working Eyes, 1990.

BIENNALE

A word derived from the Italian language to refer to an artistic event that originated in Venice.

It’s an expo of internationally collected contemporary art, bringing together the leading actors on the artistic scene for a duration of approximately one week. This kind of event has spread to other countries in the world and has become a rather popular form of artistic expose. A few biennales worth mentioning from the Middle East include the Biennale of the Contemporary Arab World, Sharjah Biennale, Baghdad’s Arab Biennale, Inaugural Rabat Biennale, the Istanbul Biennale, Casablanca International Biennale, as well as many, many others.

The Sharjah Biennale stands out for its growing popularity, especially given its somewhat remote location. Yet the Sharjah Biennale has virtually put the Emirate and the UAE as a whole on the map of international destinations for great art. Having started in 1993, it is now in its 14th edition. While initially organised by the department of culture and information, it’s been under the auspices of Hoor Bint Sultan Al Qasimi since 2003. This progressive reorientation took the event to new heights in expo design innovation. Another Biennial worth visiting is AiM, Arts in Marrakesh International Biennale. In 2020, Morocco brings to the world the Biennial of Dance, with a focus on African dance.

Wael Shawky, The Gulf Project Camp, 2019. From ‘The Gulf Project’ Graphite, ink, oil, mixed media on cotton paper, dimensions variable. Installation view: Sharjah Biennial 14: ‘Leaving the Echo Chamber’. Commissioned by Sharjah Foundation and supported by Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Al Serkal. Courtesy of the artist. Courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation.
Wael Shawky, The Gulf Project Camp, 2019. From ‘The Gulf Project’ Graphite, ink, oil, mixed media on cotton paper, dimensions variable. Installation view: Sharjah Biennial 14: ‘Leaving the Echo Chamber’. Commissioned by Sharjah Foundation and supported by Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Al Serkal. Courtesy of the artist. Courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation.
Akram Zaatari, The Landing, 2019. Film, interviews, installation, single photograph. Installation view: Sharjah Biennial 14: ‘Leaving the Echo Chamber’. Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation with the generous support of Barjeel Art Foundation, Elie Khoury Art Foundation, Ministry of Interior UAE and Fujifilm ME. Courtesy of the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg/ Beirut. Courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation.
Akram Zaatari, The Landing, 2019. Film, interviews, installation, single photograph. Installation view: Sharjah Biennial 14: ‘Leaving the Echo Chamber’. Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation with the generous support of Barjeel Art Foundation, Elie Khoury Art Foundation, Ministry of Interior UAE and Fujifilm ME. Courtesy of the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg/ Beirut. Courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation.

BIOMORPHIC

An aesthetic tendency that uses natural elements, right down to nature’s very basic shapes and forms, as the ruling style of design. Inspired by organisms, living cells, the shape of trees, waves and all the movements of Mother Earth, biomorphic designs often tend to stand out in normal geometrical cityscapes for their curvy characteristics. They certainly are a statement onto themselves. Many architectural biomorphic monuments, through the use of scale and odd curvatures, seem to inspire majestic humility. This is probably because of the immediate symbolism of man’s relationship with nature.

A good example is Jean Nouvel’s architectural design of The National Museum of Qatar, inspired by the desert rose crystal. What looks like large flattened discs randomly merging into each other in fact conceals a cunningly functional purpose: to create plenty of shade under the scorching Qatari sun.

National Museum of Qatar © Iwan Baan, Courtesy of the National Museum of Qatar
National Museum of Qatar © Iwan Baan, Courtesy of the National Museum of Qatar
National Museum of Qatar © Iwan Baan, Courtesy of the National Museum of Qatar
National Museum of Qatar © Iwan Baan, Courtesy of the National Museum of Qatar

 


A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN PRINT IN SELECTIONS, ART GLOSSARY #52 PAGES 50-53

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