Amsterdam based Blend magazine is a referential bible for the arty scene here in the Netherlands covering underground/alternative fashion, music, arts and culture. Run by the young people it prides itself on shining the spotlight on the talented unknowns.
I have always appreciated their fashion mis-en-scene and styling. Provocative. Unorthodox. With a very distinct aesthetic and obvious gay erotica undertones.
So it is with keen interest that I rushed to get my hands on the latest issue billed as the Arab Leap anticipating inspiring stories and images. Moreover in the forward the editor promises an “entire issue with beautiful Arabic things, either hailing from or inspired by the Middle East” and “a celebration of their revolution.”
From the cover stares at you a black, masked turbaned face. Beautiful? Inspiring ?
Not disturbing either.
Inside the stories on three Iranian artists Shirin Neshat, Ali Dowlatshani and Shoja Azari living in the United States interspersed by photo stories and fashion shoots.
The head covering/cloak/veil theme runs across. A fare amount of flesh, circumcised and not, is exposed. And there is a fashion column/rant calling the young to arms against the rule of the septuagenarians.
And the music? Take Maryam & Shiftz. It would have been very pertinent
Or the Iranian underground Boom Box
and the Tunisian El General
It looks like the view from Amsterdam of the “beautiful Arabic things” is limited to clichés perceptions of head covering, incense and some tribal jewellery.
This celebratory issue fails to impress. I wonder what you think