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July 25, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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Diane Arbus at the Met Breuer

On Saturday we had brunch at Penny Farthing, a wonderful East Village tavern not too far from where my son is based in NYC, and then went to see “Diane Arbus: In the Beginning” at the Met Breuer. This exhibit includes 100 photographs from the first 7 years of her career, 1956 to 1962. The famous child with toy hand grenade in Central Park is here as well as the identical twins and luminous photographs of female impersonators she took at Club 82. She first took pictures from the audience’s vantage point in order to capture the performances but later ventured into the performers’ dressing rooms and that’s where the fascinating power of her work truly shines. Arbus’s interest in New Yorkers, their diversity and eccentricity, and later in fringe communities is apparent here. But we also discover her passion for cinema, how pictures are painted with light and shadow in order to create magical worlds. See “The Kiss” or “Clouds on Screen at a Drive-in Movie” below. Finally, the way her work is displayed at the Met Breuer is interesting. Each photograph is exhibited on a standalone flat pillar and therefore throngs of people interweave across all sides of each photograph, without a set trajectory. One is constantly bumping into other visitors and making eye contact. It’s a bit disorienting but perhaps a just tribute to an artist who never took the obvious path to anywhere.

'Diane Arbus. Female impersonator holding long gloves, Hempstead, L.I. 1959.'
'Kiss from "Baby Doll", 1956, DIANE ARBUS (1923-1971).'
 'Clouds on Screen at a Drive-In Movie, N.J., 1960, DIANE ARBUS (1923-1971).'

July 23, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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Weekend in NYC

Visited my son at his place of work in NYC, where he is doing an internship. So proud of him. What an incredibly hot and humid day to be schlepping around New York tho. The heat didn’t subside even at night.

my son's office buiding

my son’s office buiding

view from building

view from building

July 21, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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identity through art

haha! this was in 2005, 11 years ago. thx APAA (Asian/Pacific Islander/American Association of Greater Rochester) for producing the documentary “identity through art,” which included this interview. it was a prelude to much film and art making for me and a definitive divergence from finance and economics.

Clips from my interview for the doc “Identity Through Art” directed by Rehema Trimiew and produced by APA-Hip, 2005.

July 20, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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An assault on Dalits may have triggered the biggest lower-caste uprising in Gujarat in 30 years

Aarefa Johari: Eight days after a mob of self-appointed “cow protection” vigilantes in Gujarat stripped, tied and beat up four Dalit men for skinning a dead cow, an unprecedented Dalit uprising is underway in the state, with at least two people reported dead on Tuesday. The incident that triggered the ongoing turmoil took place on July 11, when a group of Shiv Sena vigilantes came across a Dalit family skinning the carcass of a cow in Gir Somnath district’s Una taluka. Accusing them of cow slaughter, the mob began to thrash the Dalits with iron pipes and rods, stripped four of them, tied them to the back of a vehicle and dragged them from their village to Una town, where they were beaten right near a police station for several hours. The assaulted men are still recovering in a Rajkot hospital.

July 20, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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shakespeare in highland park

last night, shakespeare in the park, i.e. highland park in rochester (also designed by frederick law olmsted). the production was a colorful, fast-paced, punk-inspired take on “romeo and juliet” – not to my 16-year old daughter’s liking (she’s a purist who knows much of the play by heart) but i thought it was great fun. loved the diversity of the cast (Shakespeare Players of Rochester) and found chris peterkin, who played romeo, to be particularly wonderful. great set and lighting. some high-octane music. popcorn, soda, and an enthusiastic audience seated comfortably in folding chairs or lounging on blankets. a great evening!

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July 20, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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Facebook under fire for ‘censoring’ Kashmir-related posts and accounts

In a statement, Facebook said: “There is no place on Facebook for content that praises or supports terrorists, terrorist organisations or terrorism. We welcome discussion on these subjects but any terrorist content has to be clearly put in context which condemns these organisations and or their violent activities. Therefore, profiles and content supporting or praising Hizbul Mujahideen and Burhan Wani are removed as soon as they are reported to us. In this instance, some content was removed in error, but this has now been restored.” — since only Muslims are ever labeled terrorists (the Indian occupation is completely kosher), it follows that only content posted by Muslim activists and their supporters will ever be blocked or deleted by Facebook.

July 16, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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Qandeel Baloch and ‘honour’ killings

Saadia Toor: Let’s get a couple of things clear here folks.

1. Qandeel Baloch was not killed over family ‘honour’. We need to ask ourselves why it is that this narrative and framing is so readily available and so easily reached for by everyone from the media to ‘civil society activists’ to label every instance of a (Muslim) woman being killed by a family member in Pakistan. This is too convenient a label, and the more uncritically and reflexively it is trotted out, the easier it is for murderers to use it as an excuse or cover for their crime. This label obscures more than it explains about any given case of a woman’s murder at the hands of her family members. And this is so even when the family itself claims it as the reason. it is being claimed as the reason for the violent act by the family itself. But it is even more inexcusable when this is NOT in fact the framework or label deployed by her parents either in the FIR her father filed against his son (Qandeel’s brother) or in their public statements in which they accuse the latter of killing his sister for money. There is a possibility that she was killed by him because she refused to support his drug addiction. So please, let’s stop reinforcing the problematic idea that the only or even primary motivation for killing a woman in Pakistan is some atavistic outrage felt by her family members at having their ‘honour’ violated. There are often far more crassly ‘rational’ (in the sense of calculated, and materialistic) reasons for such acts of misogynist violence. Of course, that sounds far less satisfyingly exotic than the idea of an ‘honour killing’.

2. This doesn’t mean that we cannot see misogyny – a deep-seated hatred for women, especially those who choose not to live by society’s rules – at work in Qandeel’s case. There is misogyny at play at every level of her story – in the hypocrisy and double standards of a society that engages in the self righteous moral policing of every aspect of women’s being, down to blaming them for their own rapes and murders; in the sickening glee with which many (mostly men) expressed their reactions to her death on social media; in the shameless complicity of the commercial media which incites violence against women (as it does against minorities) for ratings and profit.

And so perhaps Qandeel’s murder IS an honour-killing after a fashion – insofar as she is the victim of the collective vengeance of a self-righteous and hypocritical societal mainstream whose ‘honour’ she apparently violated so intensely that even her death could not slake its bloodlust. I’m not a fan of feminist psychoanalysis but it is hard to ignore the deep-seated and intense fear of women’s (sexual) agency that is palpable in the reactions to her murder on social media by men. Fuck you all.

July 16, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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tour of rochester

hanging out with my parents and enjoying a visit from my husband’s school friend from lahore. it’s been a busy week!

high falls district in rochester

high falls district in rochester