Category Archives: Posts

Jerusalem Design Week, 2018, Bridges Historical Architecture and Environmental Topics

Between June 7th and 14th, 2018, Jerusalem Design Week, the seventh yearly highlight on the local cultural circuit, takes place at the Hansen House, as it primary venue, while extending to satellite locations, sporting international presence and featuring nature’s conservation as its overarching theme.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin

This week-long event explores the social, environmental and cultural aspects of design, as it straddles the former leprosy hospital built in the mid-19th century, which currently hosts cultural events and art exhibitions as the Ottoman-style Hansen House, the Bezek Building, the lobby and outer façade of Jerusalem Theatre and the outlying Alliance House. Anat Safran, artistic director of the Jerusalem Design Week, and Tal Erez, its chief curator, have managed to cluster the contributions from over 150 designers from Israel and around the world around the topics of the Garden, Library and Market as both conceptual and spatial focal points in what amounts to a maze of open-air, in-between and air-conditioned locations in which performances, projections, installations and exhibitions have been staged.

This event manages to raise questions related to environmental protection, conservation practices and their cultural representation via team and individual projects involving Israeli designers and their international counterparts, such as Liat Segal’s “Plate Recorder” project that combines audio recording and ceramic materials, to explore the boundaries between retro and experimental media. As part of this event, the France-Israel Season of Culture will include French-Israeli encounters across the domains of arts, design and cuisine, to probe into the meanings and implications of this event’s thematic foci. For instance, the architects and designers Guy Mishaly and Guy Konigstein have explored the cultural symbolism and aesthetic possibilities of libraries in relation granaries and their preservation practices.

This is echoed by the innovative, but somewhat nostalgic site-specific installations by the Polish design studio Syphon, the designer Zespol Wespol and the team Traffic in the Bezeq building, formerly used by the national phone company of Israel. In important ways, this event thus reaches out across not only geographic boundaries but also across domains of activity that have design relevance to house student exhibitions, artisanal-academic collaborations and interdisciplinary screenings, such as those organized in collaboration with the Milan Design Film Festival.

This event, therefore, opens up its spaces as much for aesthetic contemplation as for engagement, discourse and experience, such as the lectures and workshops hosted by Galit Gaon from the Shenkar School of Engineering and Design that, among other topics, probed the issues of memory, forgetting and reflection. Likewise, one of the highlights of this event was the demonstration of traditional food preservation techniques via fish tasting, culinary performances and salt installations that Michal Evyatar and Carmel Bar have staged in the backyard of the Hansen House.

Facing the front entrance of the Jerusalem Theatre, the Israeli design studio Magenta have combined video projections, earphone-based sound art and ping-pong equipment to create a hybrid space of dynamic experience that evokes seashore practices, has DJ-ed soundtracks in the background and affords a moment of rest for the visitors to this celebration of design. This is part of the reasons for which Jerusalem-related heritage preservation and development agencies have picked this off-center location, as it explores the relations between historical memory and design as a representational practice, such as the show by Pro Jerusalem Society concerned with the preservation of urban memory over the last century.

This event also addressed the presence of the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem via a group exhibition “Haredy-made” as the meeting of tradition and modernity has prompted an anthropological examination of everyday life. Likewise, Paris Design Forum has been present at this event via performances and talks dealing with various dimensions of Jerusalem’s history, cuisine, and culture. By contrast, the main exhibition of this event titled the “Human Conservation Project” drew attention to the social construction of the practices and categories through which the human existence becomes structured and transformed over time.

By Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: The 2018 Jerusalem Design Week, Jerusalem, Israel, June 7-14, 2018 | © Courtesy of Dor Kedmi.

This post is based on an article that originally appeared in, 26/5/2019,

The Globalization of Cultural Policy in the Middle East

Only recently, De Gruyter has announced that two of its authors have won Sheikh Zayed Book Awards for translation and original research. Namely, these were Ziad Bou Akl’s French translation of Averroes and David Wirmer’s German-language disquisition on the Andalusian-Arab thinker Ibn Bāǧǧa. The latter work not only discusses the mediating role that the Arab culture has played in the transmission of the Aristotelian thought to the West, but, similar to the former publication, demonstrates the global reach that cultural policies originating in the United Arab Emirates presently have.

It is difficult to overlook the larger context in which the activity of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation that supports the book prize takes place, such as the rapid transportation of Dubai into a global city and transportation hub. Nearby Abu Dhabi puts finishing touches on its cultural complex including a local branch of the Louvre Museum to open its doors in 2017. While these urban development policies placing a prime on spectacular architecture also have an academic component in the form of the presence of Western universities at local campuses, such as the New York University Abu Dhabi, they are yet to be reconsidered from cultural policy perspective.

As literary and academic prizes from asset-rich Middle Eastern states confirm the academic quality and relevance of latest scholarship from Europe-based research institutions, the balance of cultural influence also appears to be shifting eastward following the cultural policy priorities of global foundations.

Featured Image Credits: Entrance to the Manarat Al Saadiyat, Art Dubai 21–24 March 2012 | © Courtesy of latitudes-flickr.

Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "The Globalization of Cultural Policy in the Middle East," in Society, Media, Analysis, April 7, 2017,

Cross-Border Migrations as Inter-Cultural Movements of Translation

Bangkok International Film Festival on Ending Violence against Women and Girls 26-29 November 2015, SF World Cinema, Central World Bangkok | © UN Women
Bangkok International Film Festival on Ending Violence against Women and Girls 26-29 November 2015, SF World Cinema, Central World Bangkok | © UN Women

Especially in recent years, migrations have reclaimed headlines. This applies to migrant movements from Eastern to Western Europe, from the Middle East to Southern Europe and from Asian hinterlands to global metropolises. Without changing the physical geography subtending ever volatile global flows, these movements problematize cultural hierarchies, question modes of place-bound belonging, and destabilize cultural sensibilities.

The primary, even epistemologically privileged, avenue of in-depth encounter with these processes remains literature as a specifically modern genre of dealing with conflicts and contradictions that the global moment of modernity has introduced around the world from its dawn in the 16th century. As late capitalism is apparently succeeded by late modernity, the problems of translation, the geographical territorializations of culture and the renegotiations of territorial distinctions in social, cultural and economic terms, migration  can be reclaimed as a global phenomenon.

Yet, reflection on it needs to be shared transversally, rather than restricted to discursive communities balkanized into separate disciplines. One can see this taking place via calls for papers dealing with the migration-related translations of dislocated cultural experience, the jumbling of contrasting cultural narratives and translocal inscriptions of diasporic, migrant literatures in their host cultures and languages. Similarly, open access to related scholarship can be expected to stimulate germane discussions across area study boundaries.

Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "Cross-Border Migrations as Inter-Cultural Movements of Translation," in Society, Media, Analysis, March 30, 2017,

Shanghai as the Global Capital of Contemporary Art

Cai Guo-Qiang Exhibition, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China, May 4-July 25, 2010 | ©  Blaine O'Neill
Cai Guo-Qiang Exhibition, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China, May 4-July 25, 2010 | © Blaine O’Neill

It is difficult to thunk of a better sign of Shanghai’s becoming a mainstream global location for ambitious art shows than a recent retrospective of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, a late Cuba-born American artist, at the Rockbund Art Museum, located in the historical center of this metropolis. While globalization is increasingly beleaguered internationally, Shanghai, once named Paris of the East, has gradually developed into a global cultural capital, based on a growing cluster of cultural institutions that are keen to exhibit local and foreign artistic talents.

Rather than being an exaggeration, this assessment reflects a long-term trend of Shanghai serving as a magnet for local and more broadly Asian collectors, such as Yiqian Liu and Budi Tek, not only to stage exhibitions based on the works they fetch from art auctions, but also leave a lasting imprint on this city in the shape of spectacular museum spaces. The Long Museum, recently celebrated as an edifice and a collection that matches New York’s Neue Gallerie and Venice’s Palazzo Grassi, announces the ambition this metropolitan center has to rival both past and present capital capitals.

This is attested to, by the year-long Shanghai Project dedicated to architecture, that the Hymalayas Museum hosts. Rather than being purely theoretical or artistic in nature, this biennial-like project, curated among others by Hans-Ulrich Obrist, opens a discussion about urban sustainability, community engagement and art biennials’ purpose. Seen more broadly, this burgeoning of Shanghai’s cultural and artistic scene reflects the shift of the global power to East Asia. In terms of the art world, this especially applies to China that this year eclipsed the United States as the leading location of art auction activity.

While the global art  establishment is still adjusting to this momentous shift, Shanghai’s hot spots, such as the West Bund district, already attract flocks of top-of-the-line galleries, curators and artists.


Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "Shanghai as the Global Capital of Contemporary Art," in Society, Media, Analysis, November 22, 2016,