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Synopsis: The Fertile Crescent examines the work of 24 women artists of Middle East heritage: Negar Ahkami (Iranian), Shiva Ahmadi (Iranian), Jananne Al-Ani (Iraqi), Fatima and Monira Al Qadiri (Kuwaiti), Ghada Amer (Egyptian), Zeina Barakeh (Lebanese), Ofri Cnaani (Israeli), Nezaket Ekici (Turkish), Diana El Jeiroudi (Syrian), Parastou Forouhar (Iranian), Ayana Friedman (Israeli), Shadi Ghadirian (Iranian), Mona Hatoum (Palestinian), Hayv Kahraman (Iraqi), Efrat Kedem (Israeli), Sigalit Landau (Israeli), Ariane Littman (Israeli), Shirin Neshat (Iranian), Ebru Özseçen (Turkish), Laila Shawa (Palestinian), Shahzia Sikander (Pakistani), Fatimah Tuggar (Nigerian) and Nil Yalter (Turkish). These artists all explore matters of gender, homeland, geopolitics, theology and the environment. The authors in this volume address transnationalism and the interaction between Muslim culture and Jewish, Christian and Euro-American cultures, resulting in U.S. and European relationships that are sometimes congenial and at other times problematic. The book also addresses the Middle East’s cultural diaspora in black Africa and South Asia. The Fertile Crescent is published in conjunction with a fall 2012 multi-venue exhibition at Rutgers and Princeton Universities and the Arts Council of Princeton/Paul Robeson Center for the Arts.

Review: This catalogue for an exhibition held at multiple venues at Rutgers and Princeton Universities makes a substantial contribution to an understudied topic bridging the disciplines of art, art history, and gender studies: the transnational discourse of women artists of the Middle East. Four short but well- illustrated essays provide important context for the work. Brodsky and Olin, exhibition curators and cofounders of the Rutgers University Institute of Women and Art, explain the irony of the title in their essay " The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art and Society: Unavailable Intersections." Badram contributes " The Art of Revolution in Egypt: Brushes with Women", which contains lucid interpretations of works by Huda Lutfi, Nadine Hammam, and Souad Abdel Rasoul. "Art, Precarity, Biopolitics" is penned by Baum, and Tawadros offers " Slipping away (or Uncompliant Cartographies)." The catalogue portion includes statements and biographical essays for the artists; among the many included are Shiva Ahmadi, Ghada Amer, Zeina Barakeh, Parastou Forouhar, Mona Hatoum, Ariane Littman, Shirin Neshat, Laila Shawa, Shahzia Sikander, and Nil Yalter. The excellent color illustrations, including many video stills, serve as an important additional scholarly resource. (E. K. Mix Choice)

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Judith K. Brodsky; Ferris Olin
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