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July/August 2015


governed by Muslim Arabs, its neigh-

borhoods were populated by people

from a patchwork of religious and

ethnic communities, including native

Egyptians and many immigrants. The

exhibit puts a special focus on the three

main religious communities—Muslims,

Christians and Jews—whose members

helped shape Old Cairo’s neighborhoods,

markets and public places. Each of Old

Cairo’s communities is brought to life

through the 75 objects, many of which

have never before been on display,

including richly illuminated Qur’ans,

Coptic and Hebrew manuscripts,

ceramics, textiles, jewelry and architec-

tural fragments. Other objects, such as

game pieces and dolls, vividly remind

the visitor of life in Cairo more than

1,000 years ago. Many of the artifacts

in the exhibit were excavated at Fustat

by the American archeologist George

Scanlon between 1964 and 1972. The

exhibit also highlights several impor-

tant works on loan from the Walters

Art Museum in Baltimore, including

an 11th-century carved door from the

cabinet that held the Torah in the Ben

Ezra Synagogue and a lusterware bowl

decorated with a scene of a bird. The

Oriental Institute, University of



, through September 13.

Chief S.O. Alonge:

Photographer to

the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria


cases the photographs of Chief Solomon

Osagie Alonge (1911-1994), one of Nige-

ria’s premier photographers and the

first official photographer to the Royal

Court of Benin. Alonge’s historic photo-

graphs document the rituals, pageantry

and regalia of the court for more than a

half century, providing rare insights into

the early history and practice of studio

photography in West Africa. National

Museum of African Art,



, through September 13.

One God—Abraham’s Descendants

on the Nile:

Jews, Christians and

Muslims in Egypt from the Ancient

World to the Middle Ages.

The longest

tradition of coexistence among peoples

of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic

faiths is in Egypt. Seen for the first

time from this unifying angle, the exhi-

bition takes a closer look at the many

facets of religious life and the day-

to-day coexistence of the three faith

communities in the country from the

time of the Romans through the rule

of the Fatimids in the 12th century.

The exhibition starts in Alexandria—the

political, cultural and theological capi-

tal founded in 331


by Alexander the

Great. Egyptian Christians emerged

and splintered off from the Alexandrian

Jewish community, with Christian-

ity eventually becoming the dominant

state religion until the arrival of the

Arabs in 641. In the following centu-

ries, Muslim rulers developed their

own cultural and artistic identity, incor-

porating elements of the long-standing

Greco-Roman tradition. Bode-Museum,


through September 13.

The Hidden Qualities of Quantities

shows three new projects by Dana

Awartani, intertwined by explorations of

ritual as gestures within which geomet-

ric and organic forms sit at the center of

a set of performed sequences are acted

out on paper and canvas. Awartani works

with coding and geometric forms that

include pre-Islamic talismanic designs

and systems. Athr Gallery,



through September 15.

Shirin Neshat:

Facing History


sents an array of Neshat’s most com-

pelling works in film and photographs,

illuminating the points at which

cultural and political events have

impacted her art. Included are the

“Women of Allah” photographs that

catapulted the Iranian artist to inter-

national acclaim in the 1990s; lyrical

video installations that immerse the

viewer in imagery and sound; and two

monumental series of photographs,

The Book of Kings

( 2012) and


House Is on Fire

(2013), created in the

wake of the Green Movement and the

Arab Spring. Commenting on freedom

and loss, Neshat’s deeply humanis-

tic art is at once personal, political

and allegorical. Hirshhorn Museum &

Sculpture Garden,

Washington, D.C


through September 20.

Cleopatra and the Queens of Egypt

takes the queens of ancient Egypt, the

most famous of whom is Cleopatra, as

its theme. These queens not only sup-

ported reigning pharaohs as mothers,

wives and daughters, but also played

significant roles in politics and religion.

Their magnificence is conveyed though

masterpieces of ancient Egypt from a

number of renowned museums around

the world.


National Museum,

through September 23; The National

Museum of Art,


, October 10

through December 27.

Time of Others.

How does the word

“other” divide us? How does the way

one person looks at another shape

their image of him or her? Inspired by

such questions, this exhibition presents

works by 20 primarily younger artists

from the Asia-Pacific region, including

artists Saleh Husein and Basir Mah-

mood. The National Museum of Art,


, through September 23.

Traces of the Future

is based on

artworks that combine social obser-

vations with an involvement in issues

that constitute the major challenges of

tomorrow’s society. The exhibition is

a celebration of Moroccan contempo-

rary art with visionary overtones, setting

a reference system for the works and

the public, as they share the same

socio-cultural, political and critical back-

ground. The artists represented in the

exhibit tackle familiar themes, navigating

between imaginary worlds and every-

day realities. They deal with challenges

to physical and mental barriers, includ-

ing stories of migration experiences,

unveil many of the contradictions of our

time. As such, the expression “Traces

of the Future” is a figure of speech or

an effect by which contradictory terms

are used in conjunction. The


Museum for Photography and Visual

Arts, through September 30.



Aatifi—News from Afghanistan:

Painting, Works on Paper, and Video.

Mysterious shapes and lines—this

was how Aatifi first perceived let-

ters as a child. Since then, the artist

has worked closely with Islamic cal-

ligraphy, engaging with the form and

essence of Arabic characters. Aatifi

learned the most important styles of

the classical art of calligraphy in Kan-

dahar, Afghanistan, the city of his

birth. Even as a student of calligraphy,

he began to modify the charac-

ters. Over the years, he has refined

and reduced elements of Islamic

calligraphy, developing a unique visual

language that is both independent of

text and universally understandable.

Responding to scriptural traditions, he

synthesizes elements of classical style

and the rich quality of light and color

found in the Middle East with mod-

ern art. He selects characters purely

for their esthetic and compositional

aspects, and then fragments, rotates

and layers the lines and shapes to con-

vey power and dynamism, depth and

space. Pergamonmuseum,


through October 18.

El Hadji Sy:

Painting, Performance,


In 1985 the Weltkulturen

Museum in Frankfurt commissioned

artist and curator El Hadji Sy (b. 1954

in Dakar, Senegal) to assemble a group

of works of contemporary art from

his homeland to initiate a long-term

relationship between the two cities.

Thirty years later, the museum pres-

ents a retrospective of Sy’s career

as a painter and cultural activist. The

exhibition combines Sy’s installations

and paintings—sometimes executed

with his bare feet or produced on such

unusual surfaces as industrial rice

sacking or synthetic kite silk—with his

selection of ethnographic objects and

artworks by colleagues from Senegal.

It includes loans from international

private collections and works from

the museum’s own collections. As a

founder of the collective Laboratoire

AGIT’ART and curator of numerous art-

ist-led workshops and studio spaces in

Dakar, Sy and his interdisciplinary prac-

tice continues to break new ground.

Weltkulturen Museum,


through October 18.

An Egyptian Puzzle:

Restoring the

Coffin Lid of But-har-chonsu.

More than

120 years after it was discovered in a

rock-cut tomb in the Theban necropo-

lis in Upper Egypt, the lid of the outer

sarcophagus of the priestess But-har-

chonsu from around 1000


forms the

center of a small exhibition organized

by the Near-Eastern and Ancient Egyp-

tian Collection of the Kunsthistorisches

Museum. In collaboration with the Insti-

tute of Conservation-Restoration at the

Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, the cof-

fin lid was comprehensively restored

in 2011-2014. Wrongly reassem-

bled pieces were identified, removed

and correctly assembled, and a large

number of previously “homeless” frag-

ments were identified and incorporated.

The exhibition documents this fascinat-

ing procedure and offers insights into

the painstaking work of the conser-

vators. Kunsthistorisches Museum,


, through October 26.

Occident and Crescent Moon:


Ottoman Orient in Renaissance Art

looks at depictions of the Ottomans

in Renaissance Art between 1540

and 1600. The exhibit explores per-

manent collections to discover the

many ways in which Renaissance

artists responded to subject matter,

motifs and stylistic influences from

the Ottoman Empire, and the differ-

ent evaluations of this great power

expressed in these artworks. A selec-

tion of around 40 paintings, medals,

objets d’art

and suits of armor reflect

relations and exchanges between

Central and Eastern Europe and the

Islamic Orient, which were marked

both by drawn-out wars and the

West’s infatuation with all things

oriental. Kunsthistorisches Museum,


through October 26.



Woven Luxuries:

Indian, Persian and

Turkish Textiles from the Indictor Collec-


Used for furnishings—as carpets,

spreads, bolsters, hangings, clothing—

and exchanged as diplomatic gifts, silk

velvets have been preeminent luxury

textiles in many parts of the Islamic

world and Europe, especially from the

15th century onward. The 11 textiles

in this exhibition, selected from a pri-

vate New York collection, provide a

glimpse into the richness and diversity

of Iranian, Indian and Turkish silk vel-

vets. Spanning three distinct cultural

areas with their own design sensibili-

ties and tastes, this group of textiles

showcases different techniques of vel-

vet production and suggests their varied

uses. Of special note are the two com-

plete 17th-century carpets from India

and Iran, each measuring nearly 1.83 by

1.22 meters and retaining not only their

design elements but also their vibrant

colors. These, along with nine other

substantial textile fragments, show the

cultural exchange between the Mughal,

Safavid and Ottoman empires, and their

shifting political, religious and economic

ties. Asian Art Museum.

San Fran-


through November 1.

Egypt’s Emergence into History

takes a close look at the history of

cultural creation in early Egypt. The

display traces the rise of emerging

cultures from the dawn of history up

to 2700


, illustrated in some 240

artifacts. Over the course of 500,000

years, a slow seismic shift took place

in the culture of the Nile Valley: The

culture transitioned from nomadic to

sedentary in a process that culminated

around 3100


with the formation

of one of the world’s first centralized

states. The exhibition focuses on the

artisanal and technological develop-

ments in early Egypt, including the

mastery of a wide range of different

materials such as stone, bone, ivory,

clay and metal. It also illustrates the

emergence of a distinctive art style

and a logoconsonantal script (based

on a combination of pictographic signs

and phonetic elements) that had a

profound impact on the cultural devel-

opment of the subsequent period of

the Old Kingdom. Neues Museum,


through November 16.



The Royal Hunt:

Courtly Pursuits

in Indian Art.

Expressions of imperial

authority are universally embodied in

royal imagery of the hunt, with rulers

pursuing prey serving as metaphors for

power and martial prowess. The theme

is celebrated throughout the history of

Indian painting and became ubiquitous

in later Rajput paintings of the late 19th

century. The exhibition features works

from the Department of Asian Art, with

loans from the Department of Islamic

Art, the Department of Arms and Armor

and New York collections. The Met-

ropolitan Museum of Art,

New York,

through December 13.


January and later

Arts of the Islamic World.

The arts

of the Islamic world flourished in a

vast area extending from Morocco and

Spain to the islands of Southeast Asia.

Although distinct in their cultural, artis-

tic, ethnic and linguistic identities, the