Negar Azimi is the Senior Editor of Bidoun and has written 
for Artforum, Harper’s, and The New York Times Magazine, among other publications. (February 2018)

IN THE REVIEW

Midnight’s Child

M.F. Husain: Indian Dance Forms, 2008–2011

India Modern: The Paintings of M.F. Husain

an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, July 14, 2017—March 4, 2018
With his lean stick-like frame and luxurious halo of thick white hair, the Indian artist M.F. Husain was a figure of romance. A consummate showman, he was known to wake at the crack of dawn to paint with his two-foot-long brush, shirtless, always barefoot, in his down-and-out studio—a conspicuous choice—in …

NYR DAILY

A Pilot’s Refusal, Reimagined

A still from one of the films in Akram Zaatari's installation Letter to a Refusing Pilot

A short time after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, a rumor ran through the southern Lebanese town of Saida that went something like this: as Israeli forces advanced into the country, one Israeli air force pilot refused to strike his assigned target, a secondary school for boys not far from the Ain El Helweh refugee camp. Instead, he veered off course, dropping his bombs into the Mediterranean Sea below. It was said that the pilot’s family had originally been from Saida’s old Jewish community, and he had felt too much of an attachment for the place and its inhabitants. Though the school, like much of the city around it, was eventually bombed anyway, the story turned into a legend, embroidered and embellished with new details in each telling. Among those who grew obsessed by the pilot’s story was the Lebanese artist Akram Zaatari, who was born in Saida in 1967 and whose father founded and ran that very boys’ school for two decades.