Drawing on the long, rich history of publishing in the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa (EMNA) and the diaspora, Fehras Publishing Practices considers the stakes of contemporary publishing in and beyond print culture. Their collective approach to researching the issue of ‘publishing’ involves observation of and experimentation with its various forms in order to extend the terms of publishing and create a new culture of critical engagement.
Fehras’ recent work stems from an earlier project titled Institutional Terms (2015–16). Their investigation addressed the transformation of modern Arabic within the context of the rise of Arab cultural institutions, specifically around the emergence of a language unique to bilingual art publications of the last decade. Examining these publications, the collective compiled terminology in Arabic and tracked the English equivalent, organising first by discursive category and then via associated publishers, writers, artists and curators to chart a network of relationships. The work led them to Tharwat Okasha’s Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Cultural Terms as well as Kamal Abu-Deeb’s Kashaf Mustalahi [Index of Terms] from his 1981 Arabic translation of Edward W. Said’s Orientalism (1978). Significantly, Abu-Deeb’s index lays out the logic he used to carve novel terminology from indigenous Arabic structure.
For SB13, Fehras Publishing Practices presents Soapy postmodern bathwater [ماء صابونية مابعد حداثية] ((2017, which examines a bilingual body of writing within the context of a major contemporary art gathering of practitioners from the EMNA and its diaspora. The installation brings together a selection of bilingual art publications within a global bookshop-sculpture titled Bilingual Camel [ الجمل المثنّى] (2017) as well as a video work. While the project highlights the role of art institutions as producers of contemporary language and discourse, the title alludes to a frothy, effervescent present day that may quickly dissipate and at times obscure the depth of vision necessary not only to sustain a practice but also to engage with the world.
This project was part of Sharjah Biennial 13.
Fehras Publishing Practices: Selected Works
Fehras Publishing Practices