Friday, July 26, 2013

A bicycle, a shoe, a female resistance

Lately, what's with all the activism going on, with direct confrontations happening, with people using incredibly "in your face" methods to confront the system (and I am NOT criticizing), something else went off the picture.... Subtle, almost passive, resistance. I saw that in a poster for Palestine here in Beirut "drop after drop, the rock cracks" - sometimes it is that persistent, relentless, low-key resistance that ends up doing the deed.
I still did not manage to see Wadjda, Haifaa Al Mansour's movie, who happens to be the first female Saudi film director, about a young girl who fantasizes about owning her own bicycle in the very restrictive society that Saudi Arabia is and who - and this is the genius of the movie - uses the system itself to beat the system. In order to raise money for the bicycle, she enters a Koran reciting competition.
Here is a still of the movie:
The movie also reminded me of Samira Makhmalbaf's beautiful, mesmerizing, "Panj e Asr" (At five in the afternoon), also about a female protagonist trying to beat the odds in a harsh post-Taliban fall Afghanistan (the movie was done in 2003), and her piece de resistance was none other than a pair of white shoes she wears for strolling into town (as opposed to the basic black shoes she would wear otherwise). The movie is a must-see for many reasons, and below is an image of the shoes in question:
Sometimes I wonder why Nadine Labaki's "Caramel" got all the brouhaha, for my money, it is the most anti-feminist movie ever made... The characters all succumb to their fates, they submit with little or no resistance and wait for events to change things as opposed to them making meaningful small acts to contribute.
In a conference at the Lebanese American University, a researcher from Kuwait did a paper called "Michel de Certeau and the subversive Abaya" and it was about, through sticking to the Islamic code of wearing a Abaya, university students in the campus he was teaching in, were embellishing them with pieces of textile, and personal artifacts rendering these items totally personal and unique. Which brings us to Poosh....
Poosh is a clothing company from Iran, the design brainchild of Farnaz Abdoli, and which reinterprets (while remaining within the the state codes of dressing) the required clothing all while giving them an edgy/trendy reinterpretation.
Once more, this was about females trying to beat the system all while sticking to the codes and rules and regulations, using a way of resistance that slowly, but surely, gets to its aim.
And I am in awe.
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