White Sun of the Desert

From Tashkent to Tbilisi

Brigands, burqas, and bushy eyebrows: Central Asia and the Caucasus in Soviet cinema

My ability to speak Russian like a native constantly brings about assumptions about my ethnic heritage, from jokes about vodka and imitations of Russian accents to comments about how I should be used to cold weather, whenever I so much as shiver. I, along with many Russian-speaking Central Asians and Caucasians (i.e. from the Caucasus) from countries belonging to the former Soviet Union, are caught in an identity limbo. How, for example, do I explain why it is that I’m more fluent in Russian than my native Juhuri, a Jewish variety of the Iranian Tati language closely related to Persian? Today, I force myself to wrap my tongue around the few Tati phrases I know, in a desperate effort to preserve what is left of my identity – an identity that is falling like sand through the spaces between my fingers. In the past two generations, my family’s heritage was subdued under Russian dominance; and now, as immigrants, we’ve had to adopt new American identities.

Read More

Reza Aramesh

REORIENT Radio – Myrna Ayad

For the latest episode of our podcast series, Art Dubai Director Myrna Ayad spills the beans on what’ll be going down at this year’s edition of the art fair extraordinaire

Bouchra Khalili

Crosstown Traffic

Moroccan-French artist Bouchra Khalili tackles issues of migration, language, and conflict in her ongoing untitled solo exhibition at London’s Lisson Gallery


The Unity of Time and Place

Why does Iranian artist Mahmoud Bakhshi panic in cinemas? His new exhibition in London, in which he revisits a defining moment in Iranian history, provides reason enough.

Yasmine Hamdan

Oh! You Pretty Things

Iain Akerman catches up with wonder woman Yasmine Hamdan before a gig in Dubai to get the skinny on her latest album, Al Jamilat (The Beautiful Ones)

Soukaina Joual

Meat is Murder

Zoë Hu hangs out with Soukaina Joual in the cafés of Fes to chat with the young Moroccan artist in the flesh about the central place occupied by Morocco – and meat – in her oeuvre

Pashto Pop

Pirate Modernity

Perwana Nazif talks to Timothy P.A. Cooper and Abeera Arif Bashir of London’s Pirate Modernity radio programme about their search for some of Afghanistan’s funkiest sounds on tape