Lessons from Somaliland for Kurds and Catalans

The Kurds and the Catalans are voting for self-determination. It seems nothing can stop a people who have decided to vote for self-determination, although it seems not a single state is ready to accept it. The lesson from Somaliland, an unrecognised country since 1991, is: there is no need to worry about not achieving international recognition: you can live very well without.

Certainly these elections will be held, one way or another, and the outcome is predictable: overwhelming support for independence.

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Article about Jonas Staal in Syria


Closing ceremony of the New World Summit in Derik, Syria

I published this article in the December 2015 edition of The Art Newspaper – with first a ‘news’ story on page 3, and then a feature on pages 58-59.  Continue reading

Security through integration, not isolation

La Taverna du Liban Kabul

Afghan security in front of bombed restaurant in Kabul. Photo by Johannes Eisele for AFP/Getty Images

The news of the bombing of La Taverna du Liban, a Lebanese restaurant in Kabul, reached me while I was following a pre-deployment course for a EU mission in Libya. I think I knew Kamal, the owner of the restaurant, who died in the assault; if it was the same man who set up the restaurant somewhere in 2004-5 (and it seems so from this personal account), he was a hearty, generous man and I regret his death, especially for his children. Continue reading

Gulf Art Guide online

Finally, after a year and a half working on project proposal and funding, followed by nearly a year intensive research and writing, the Gulf Art Guide is online. Some of the cities (Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Muscat, Doha and Manama) are covered by my co-author Neil van der Linden. The rest is written by me, and I worked a lot on website layout, design, functionalities and editing and proofreading the whole site.

I first looked forward to the day the Gulf Art Guide would finally be finished and online, as a day of relief. But the same evening that it went online I realized that it is like a baby: now I will have to nurture it, help it get over infancy diseases, and help it grow up. No time to celebrate!

The essay, which you can download here, provides an unusual take on the Gulf art scene.

We have over 1000 likes on our Facebook page, which is a good way to keep abreast of what’s going on in the Gulf Art World.

A version 1.1 is being prepared for release in the summer of 2013.

Radio-cursus hedendaagse kunst in het Midden-Oosten

This post is in Dutch because it concerns a Dutch-language radio programme I made about contemporary art in the Middle East, presented as a course in 4 chapters (one every evening)

Op verzoek van het VPRO programma ‘De Avonden’ heb ik vier avonden lang een ‘cursus’ gegeven over hedendaagse kunst in het Midden-Oosten. De uitleveringen werden van 28 juni t/m 1 juli uitgezonden.

Aflevering 1: algemene introductie
Aflevering 2: hedendaagse kunst in Saoedi Arabie
Aflevering 3: de verdwenen kunstenaars van Irak
Aflevering 4: kunst in Syrie en huidige toestand

Iedere aflevering begint tussen de 3 en 6 minuten na aanvang van het programma en duurt zo’n 10 minuten

Flying Dinner in Paris

Flying Dinner (c) in Restaurant Zelda, Paris

RobertK presentation of Middle Eastern art at Flying Dinner, Paris. Photo Lea Santamaria

The Flying Dinner team (curator and contemporary art specialist Samantha Barroero and art & wine-expert Linda Grabe) invited me to give a presentation of contemporary Middle Eastern art in Paris, for a select group of collectors, curators and other specialists that were brought together for a lovely Moroccan lunch. The event took place on March 19 2011, after I returned from the Sharjah Biennial and Art Dubai. Continue reading