Publishing as Practice: Bidoun at Ulises

    31 E Columbia Ave
    Philadelphia, PA
    November 29, 2018 - July 19, 2019

    For the third and final installment of the Publishing as Practice series at Ulises, Bidoun staged a partial version of the infamous Bidoun Library. Founded in 2009, the Bidoun Library is a presentation of printed matter, carefully selected with zero regard for taste or excellence, that documents the innumerable ways that people have depicted and defined — that is, slandered, celebrated, obfuscated, hyperbolized, ventriloquized, photographed, surveyed, and/or exhumed — the vast, vexed, nefarious construct known as “the Middle East.”

    In addition to publications, the library had on view a selection of trailers from the little known genre of Iranian-American “B Movies.” Produced mainly in Los Angeles in the years after the revolution, these resolutely un-canonical (and often un-watchable) low budget films feature mainly American casts with a few Iranian actors. They are the direct descendants of filmfarsi, the vernacular B Movie genre that dominated popular Iranian cinema before 1979, and which employed many of the same directors. Much, if not all, was lost in translation. Some of these films were exported to Asia; others have become cult hits among pulp connoisseurs. Seen together, they shape a schizophrenic picture of what these diasporic directors once imagined the formula for a successful Hollywood action film to be.