The Khaleejesque team continually ponders with the barrage of research, commercial trends, and click bait articles that have called ‘time of death’ on our respective field of publishing. With our collected knowledge, network, and experience in what is seemingly a “dying field,” we set to formulate our own research more focused on the MENA publishing scene on a global scale—namely, niche and independent publishing platforms, whether print or online, founded and staffed by young Arabs and Muslims from around the world.
As a platform that strives to amplify the voices of creatives and activists alike, we are dedicated to sharing our findings on a burgeoning field amongst creatives of the MENA region and beyond. As traditional publishing houses increasingly diminish, these independent platforms are paving the way for a new movement—heralding a cultural paradigm shift towards an egalitarian voice in publishing far from the constraints of traditional print and online media.
In addition we’ve reached out to individual Zines who have shared with us their intricate workings and their missions and visions for their platform.
These are collective answers from the team at WARAQ Association.
- About the Platform:
The first edition of Tabaan in 2016 featured seven artists that produced individual works using Beit Waraq’s screen-printing facilities. In 2017, Tabaan’s second edition brought together both emerging and established artists to develop original content following short residencies at Beit Waraq, concentrating on the city and the surrounding neighborhood. The second edition featured seventeen artists that produced printed material across a range of processes and techniques, including screen printing, linocut, collage, photo-transfer and a combination of these techniques.
Each edition culminated in a print celebration event, where the work and processes of the several artists are shared and discussed with the audience, serving as a meeting point between the producing artists and the community at large.
We have faced logistical, technical, and organizational challenges in adapting the residency programs to accommodate a large number of artists with different processes and a range of experiences in printmaking. However, these challenges led to constant conversations with the artists, allowing them to exchange processes and reflect together on finding solutions, and allowing the platform to amend the program and articulate particularities in the existing production models. For us, the importance of this publishing platform lies in the social and political potential of an active and critically engaged print community.
- Content: what is your publication concerned with and what kind of content does it feature?
Tabaan highlights themes reflecting on contemporary social realities from an artist’s personal perspective, and emphasizes on the commitment to an artistic process utilizing authentic or digital printing techniques (line engraving, aquatint, drypoint etching, mezzotint, monotype, linocuts, woodcuts, screen printing, photocopy and risograph printing).
- The team behind the platform:
The team at Waraq is made up of five individuals practicing in the graphic arts (illustration, animation, graphic design) working together to manage the different platforms under Waraq.
Team Members: Hussein Nakhal, David Habchy, Christina Skaf, Jana Traboulsi and Ashley Choukeir.
Tabaan invites artists to engage in short residencies to produce their own work under a specified theme. The artists undergo a process of generating written, illustrated and photographic content within the framework of the residency, and under the guidance of the team at Waraq.
- Work Space:
We work from Waraq’s main physical space, Beit Waraq, a traditional Lebanese house bult in the 1950s and located in a decentralized neighbourhood with the objective of facilitating and assisting in production, the promotion of alternative production means, fostering critical thinking, encouraging interesting and elaborate artistic processes and engaging in research through design and the graphic arts.
Images courtesy of WARAQ Association.