TED Fellows » TED Fellows Network » Bahia Shehab

Bahia Shehab

Artist + creative director + Islamic art historian

Fellows Class:
Bahia Shehab

Professional Role

Current Titles:

Artist, Creative Director, Islamic Art Historian

Current Organizations:

American University in Cairo, Mi7-Cairo


Photos

Flickr Photostream

Projects

"A Thousand Time NO"
9/17/2010 – 1/9/2011
" When you want to deny all of the stereotypes that are imposed on you and that try to define your role in the world.When you want to reject almost every aspect of your reality. When you want to decline every political reality you live under. When you want to dismiss all of the options available to you. When you want to negate all the accusations that go hand in hand with your identity. When you want to refuse to be an imitator or follower of the West, yet you also refuse the regressive interpretation of your heritage. ‘A thousand Nos’ are not enough." Bahia Shehab. A Thousand Times No. 2010. Plexiglass curtain. 2.5 m x 6 m, and 1016 page book documenting the research. (Collection of the designer) This work is a research-based tribute to the wealth, diversity and freedom of expression in Islamic art. It is a rejection of conformity and repression that often plagues the Arab and Islamic cultures. It traces the history of one letterform the Lam-alif (which means NO in Arabic), and repeats it a thousand different times to illustrate the common Arabic expression: “No, and a thousand times no!”. The book by the same title and also designed for the installation, is a visual documentation of the different lam-alifs, their origin, placement and medium chronologically, published by Khatt Books in Amsterdam, 2010.
Project Website »

"The People Have OverThrown the Regime"
3/17/2011 – 4/17/2011
At three in the morning, on February 12th, 2011 at Midan al-Tahrir in Cairo, while the Egyptian people were still celebrating the news of the stepping down of their dictator for 30 years Hosni Mubarak, newspapers fresh off the press started circulating. The headlines were expected, but one newspaper, the government owned Al-Ahram featured the most eye-catching headline of them all: “The people have overthrown the regime”. It was eye-catching for two reasons. The first was obviously the content, which was a direct answer to the popular chant now rocking the Arab world from Libya to Bahrain: “The people want to overthrow the regime”. The second was the design. The headline was, for the first time in almost 30 years, above the newspaper’s logo and heading, and it was in bold red. Instances in the history of the newspaper where this has happened before were events like the 1967 war, or when president Nasser decided to step down and the assassination of president Anwar Sadat. But the most curious thing is not the mere fact of the headline’s position but that amongst the newspapers on circulation on the eve of the revolution’s major victory, it was the only headline drawn, and even signed by a calligrapher. Al-Ahram editors understood that for such an important and historic piece of news, no Arabic font was good enough.
Project Website »

"Pharonic Temple" Awarness Campaign for the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities
3/1/2010 – 6/5/2010
The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities needed a TV campaign to create public awareness on the issues of preserving Egyptian cultural heritage. The campaign featured the international film icon Omar Sherif as its spokesperson. The script highlights the historic importance of the monuments and artifacts versus the banality of current human vandalism utilizing accessible colloquial dialect and terminology. The campaign was very well received publicly with Omar Sherif reporting that Taxi drivers in Egypt were quoting his words in the ad every time he took public transport!
Project Website »

"Islamic Lantern" Awarness Campaign for the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities
3/1/20120 – 6/5/2010
The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities needed a TV campaign to create public awareness on the issues of preserving Egyptian cultural heritage. The campaign featured the international film icon Omar Sherif as its spokesperson. The script highlights the historic importance of the monuments and artifacts versus the banality of current human vandalism utilizing accessible colloquial dialect and terminology. The campaign was very well received publicly with Omar Sherif reporting that Taxi drivers in Egypt were quoting his words in the ad every time he took public transport!
Project Website »

"Khamsa wo Khmeesa"
11/13/2008 – 12/5/2008
The Khamsa is a symbol used in amulets, charms and jewelry to protect against the "evil eye." An alternative Islamic name for this charm is the Hand of Fatima, in reference to Fatima Zahra, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad —or the Hand of Miriam in Jewish faith in reference to Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron. It represents a "protecting hand" or the "hand of God". The fingers can point up or down. The hands come in five shades of 'protective' blue. The design is composed of 10 amulets, thus the name Khamsa wo Khmeesa (five and five). A must have in every home, especially if you have envious neighbors. Self-adhesive vinyl wall stickers have revolutionized contemporary European interior design. The Khatt Foundation in partnership with the Dubai based trend setting company, Mosaiques, have recently challenged the best visual artists from the Arab world to re-invent wall design with the Middle East in mind. A jury of renowned Middle East design specialists such as Nadine Kanso, Nada Debbs and Rami Farook, selected the winning entries of the design competition in which more than 150 up and coming designers from across the region have taken part. This Khatt Design Collection of wall stickers is an impressive mix of traditional Arabic calligraphy and poetry, Islamic and Arabic vernacular symbols, humorous and thought provoking visual puns, all presented in a distinct contemporary form that shows the aesthetic diversity of visual language and graphic design from the Middle East.
Project Website »


Biography

Lebanese-Egyptian artist, designer and Islamic art historian studying ancient Arabic script and visual heritage to solve modern-day design issues. Bahia is a Creative Director with MI7-Cairo working on projects relevant to cultural heritage. She teaches at the American University in Cairo and has developed a new four-year Graphic Design program for the department of the Arts with the first specialized courses on the History of Arab Design and communication as a discipline in the Arab world. She is also a PhD candidate at Leiden University in Holland. Her research is focused on Fatimid Kufic inscriptions and epigraphic evidence in the decorative arts and on portable items in the Mediterranean basin and beyond. It is concerned with form versus content and the extent to which the medium dictated the message. Her MA thesis entitled "Floriated Kufic on the Monuments of Fatimid Cairo" received the Nadia Niazi Thesis Award at AUC in 2009. Bahia's work has been on display at Traffic Gallery in Dubai-UAE, Beijing International Typography Exhibition in Beijing-China, Haus Der Kunts in Munich-Germany, Palazzo Lucarini Contemporary in Italy, and Bielefelder Kunstverein in Germany. Graduated from the American University in Beirut with a degree in Graphic Design in 1999, she worked as a Creative Director with several multinational advertising agencies in Beirut, Dubai and Cairo, developing international and regional advertising campaigns. She notably created a De Beers campaign which won an IAA (International Advertising Association) gold award. Her book "A Thousand Times NO: The Visual History of Lam-Alif" was published in 2010 by Khatt Books in Amsterdam.