Researched by Dr. Alain George, and curated by Rachel Dedman.
The inaugural exhibition of the El-Nimer Collection, Midad presents over 75 pieces from the eighth to the twentieth century, alongside five new commissions from contemporary artists.
The exhibition investigates the ways in which Arabic calligraphy has throughout history mirrored notions of the public and private, the political and personal, the performative and poetic, as well as the literary environments of its time.
Unbound to chronology or geography, Midād explores Arabic script’s development, transformation and diverse application over time and across the world. Beyond the texts they contain, manuscripts, panels, ceramics, textiles and tools are objects that have been redefined by a process of circulation in different social, geographic and cultural contexts of history.
Calligraphy was one of the earliest art forms developed by Muslims: its cornerstones were laid as early as the first century after the hijra, during the Umayyad caliphate, giving script a visual sophistication largely unprecedented in the Mediterranean world. In this lecture, based primarily on objects seen in the Midad exhibition, we will glimpse at the main lines of these developments in the Islamic world, from West Africa to China.
Alain Fouad George: Senior Lecturer, Islamic Art, University of Edinburgh
Join Midad curator Rachel Dedman in conversation with artists Marwan Rechmaoui, Roy Samaha, Jana Traboulsi and Raed Yassin, to discuss the new work they have produced for Midad, commissioned by Dar El-Nimer. Their projects explore the histories and contemporary significance of the book, the script, the talisman, the margin, and the interlinked authority of word and image.
The relationship between Arabic script and the divine is as old as the Qur’an itself. In this lecture Ahmad Moustafa presents his book, The Cosmic Script, in which he argues for the presence of divine revelation in the very forms of Arabic letters, and for their organic connection to the shapes and proportion of the human body.
Ahmad Moustafa: Artist, academic researcher
Sayegh is a pioneer of modern calligraphy in the Arab world. His approach to calligraphic practice, driven by the pure aesthetics of letter forms, can be understood as part of a regional modernism in the plastic arts. His talk will address the intertwined nature of Arabic calligraphy and religion, the symbiosis of language and script, and calligraphy as an art that must be understood on its own terms.
Samir Sayegh: Artist, calligrapher and researcher of Islamic art
Zoomorphic calligraphy, or drawing animals using Arabic letterforms, is a practice that has been done since the 15th century. This workshop explores the fluidity of Arabic script through exercises and experiments with lettering, colours, and composition, making a vibrant work of art to take home.
Workshop Leader: Ghaleb Hawila, calligrapher
Fees: 15,000 LBP
A palimpsest is a text-within-a-text, and a feature inherent in many ancient manuscripts. After examining different historical and contemporary models for palimpsests, this workshop guides participants through a journey intervening on scripted material of their choice. Inviting experimentation with writing, painting, tracing, and drawing, the session proposes an alternative way of experiencing art, text and paper.
Chafa Ghaddar: Artist
Participation Fee: 50,000 LBP
An eighteenth century Qur’an written from memory by freed African slave Ayuba Suleiman Diallo is a highlight of the El-Nimer Collection and Midad. This talk attempts to answer questions about Diallo’s life, examining his time and circumstances as a slave in the United States, reasons for his travel to England, and his interaction with both societies. His journey is examined here based on clues from the manuscript, as well as newly-surfaced traces of his life, hidden for the past 250 years.
Ian Foster: Independent scholar
In this intensive workshop, participants are invited to take classic Arabic poems and use them to make a typographic poetry book in Arabic. The approach is based on understanding and adapting the special qualities and characteristics of the Arabic writing system, calligraphy and typography.
This workshop is open to students and professionals in graphic design. Applicants are required to submit up to five samples of their work for review before registration to email@example.com
Reza Abedini: Graphic artist, educator
Participation Fees: 200,000 LBP
What would a font look like if each letter was drawn by a different person? This workshop looks at samples of different calligraphic styles, observing how the tool used affects the form of a letter. Participants will draw their own using a variety of tools, compiling the results into a functioning Arabic font. This will be then used to create posters promoting the work of the little letterers.
Workshop Leaders: Khajag Apelian: Lettering, type and graphic designer, Farah Fayyad: Lettering and graphic designer
Fees: 15,000 LBP
How do we define calligraphy and typography? This talk is a thorough examination of the journey from contemporary calligraphy into typography. Abedini explores processes of conversion, transformation and reduction, addressing technical and aesthetic issues related to the development of modern visual languages in graphic design and Perso-Arabic typography
Reza Abedini: Graphic artist, educator
With millions of people using the Arabic script online, in many different languages, Silicon Valley’s ignorance of Arabic script culture remains detrimental to the development and use of digital typographic forms in Arabic, despite localised and individual attempts to create non-Latin script solutions for browsers. This talk presents a new concept and technology, which offers a comprehensive solution suitable for broad online application, unshackled to specific corporate operating systems.
Thomas Milo: Linguist, typographer
Mirjam Somers: Typographer, type designer
This interactive workshop invites children to explore Arabic script from an unusual perspective. Over the span of two hours, children will be immersed in a series of entertaining and educational experiences using their senses. How can we make letter shapes with our bodies? Think of characters in terms of animals? Match one calligraphic style with another? Led by Studio Kawakeb, kids will be inspired to explore and engage with language and writing beyond speech and text itself.
Studio Kawakeb: Visual arts studio
Fees: 15,000 LBP
Within the shapes of arabic letters lies an ocean of artistic production that has carried the content of language for thousands of years. In this talk, the panellists reflect on the challenges faced in understanding the cultural heritage of the Arabic script and how this knowledge forms the backbone of contemporary Arabic type. The discussion will be centred around the necessity of building bridges between tradition and modernity in order to create authentic and high-quality Arabic typefaces.
The panel includes:
Lara Captan: Type designer & typographer
Kristyan Sarkis: Type and graphic designer
Onur Yazıcıgil: Typographer, educator