Dubai hosts ‘Moving Museum’ in its backyard

Updated 21 March 2013

Dubai hosts ‘Moving Museum’ in its backyard

The Middle East is emerging as the next favorite destination to hold exquisite art shows from around the world.
One such art project is “The Moving Museum” co-founded by Aya Mousawi and Simon Sakhai in 2011 that debuted at DIFC (Dubai International Financial Center) on Monday. It’s a complete traveling program of contemporary art exhibitions and events in different cities across the world. Evolving the traditional museum model, this new approach responds directly to the changing global nature of the contemporary art world today. Though the concept is quite unique in its own way, what it offers to take in is priceless. Its sole aim is clearly defined leaving no scope for criticism and otherwise.
“We are living in an age where it’s considered highly imperative to share one’s ideas and information at a fast-clip. More or less, it has become our way of life now. Even if our cultural senses are being shaped by this phenomenon, there is no denying that an artwork is still something that one prefers to experience in person to be able to recognize its real worth," Mousawi saids. “We thought this nomadic format will help us to catch up with the times as well as allow us to offer a service that brings not just the ideas but the artworks to people’s doorsteps.”
Keeping its theme close to neutral, the exhibition will have no particular themes as such. Since it’s titled as “Tectonic,” the show will be highlighting the vast changes that contemporary art has undergone through 24 of the world’s most innovative voices known to be well-versed in it. Some of the most popular ones participating are Jeremy Deller, Ali Banisadr, Michael Rakowitz, The Bruce High Quality Foundation, Eddie Peake, Slavs and Tatars, Ryan Gander, and Liz Magic Laser. “
Each work will look different from one another as well as showcase the artists’ ground-breaking styles they are pioneering in the field of contemporary art. Besides, it’s a great opportunity for Dubai to welcome these most urgent international artistic talents whose works have never been exhibited in this city before," Sakhai said. “They all have unbeatable charisma.”
Perhaps, Dubai was on their radar from the start as they were looking for a place in the region where the cosmopolitan cultures intermingle so effortlessly. “We chose Dubai as our first destination because it is emerging as an important hub for cultural dialogue. This city has arguably one of the most progressive and interesting audiences in the Gulf plus boasts a rich and grassroots arts scene. We really wanted to capture this large audience with our various programs like film screenings, seminars, artworks, talks and interventions. In fact, it’s an amalgam of eccentric creativity. Yet, Dubai lacks a contemporary art museum. It doesn’t have a central institution to nurture such ideas. And this is where our initiative can help connect people of the city to a new cultural revolution," explains co-founder Mousawi.
Adding to this, Sakhai said: “Dubai has been a global hotspot for over a decade now attracting the region’s best talents in all sectors. In fact, these young minds are the ones whom we are planning to influence because of their enormous contributions to changing the face of the Middle East.”

Asked whether this show will be Dubai-centric on the whole, Mousawi said, “Each artist is presenting their solo works keeping in mind that what they display conforms to the changing landscape of the city. For this, we have been collaborating with the artists for a year now.”
Let’s take the art work of Michael Rakowitz for instance, who “will be bringing to life one of his favorite creations known as 'Enemy Kitchen' with a different name altogether — Dar Al-Sulh, or Domain of Conciliation. The whole set-up of it revolves around a pop-up restaurant that will serve his grandmother’s cooking recipes at Traffic (a non-profit arts space) which is located in the heart of the industrial area “Al-Quoz.”
The other thing that has everybody guessing is related to its peculiar name “The Moving Museum” which Mousawi justified by saying, “First and foremost, it’s not a traditional museum bound by curatorial opinions. Rather, it’s a moving institution where art evolves and brings together the artists and the audience together to share their thoughts in an equally open space.”
Its message is loud and clear. It aims to reach people far and wide in order to make them understand the importance of contemporary art. “The Moving Museum is a registered not-for-profit organization with social and educational objectives at its core. That’s why we feel strongly that there is an ethical and transparent way of engaging the commercial side of the art world," the organizers said.
For art enthusiasts, it’s a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to buy the works of their most loved artists as their influential works of art have been assigned to go on sale. From here, this mega show will be organized in Venice and London in the upcoming months.

With Saudi roots and an Indian heart, Al-Kazi is an act the stage will never forget

Ebrahim Al-Kazi. (Social media)
Updated 21 February 2019

With Saudi roots and an Indian heart, Al-Kazi is an act the stage will never forget

  • Though an icon in India, few people know about Al-Kazi’s Saudi roots

JEDDAH: India has always been a hub of art and culture. Over the last century, movies emerged as the most expressive cultural medium, and the Indian film industry — commonly known as Bollywood — has since become a powerhouse of world cinema.

One can never do its history justice without mentioning Ebrahim Al-Kazi.

A renowned director and drama teacher, he worked as the director of the prestigious New Delhi-based National School of Drama (NSD) from 1962 to 1977, teaching many well-known future actors and fellow directors, including Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah and Rohini Hattangadi. He also founded the Art Heritage Gallery in New Delhi.

Though an Indian icon, however, few people know about Al-Kazi’s Saudi roots. His father, Hamad bin Ali Al-Kazi, was a trader from Unaiza in the Kingdom’s Qassim region, who subsequently settled in Pune, India, where Ebrahim was born in 1925. 

Early on in his career, Al-Kazi worked with the Bombay Progressive Artists Group, which included M.F. Husain, F.N. Souza, S.H. Raza, Akbar Padamsee and Tyeb Mehta, who would all later contribute to the design of his sets.

He worked in India, the US and Europe before becoming the director of the NSD, and later of the Asian Theater Institute, and is credited with staging more than 50 plays in his lifetime. He also contributes to the preservation of Indian cultural history through his Al-Kazi Foundation for the Arts.

In February 2015, Al-Kazi was honored at the second Saudi Film Festival in Dammam. He was later quoted in Arab media sources on his Saudi upbringing: “Our father was a firm believer in our cultural roots that went back to Saudi Arabia, and we spoke only Arabic at home. We had a teacher of Arabic and Islamic studies who came from Saudi Arabia, and lived as part of our family.

“Arab families (in India) did not mix very much with others, but my father had close ties with people other than Arabs,” he added.

Al-Kazi has also won many prestigious Indian awards. He was the first recipient of Roopwedh Pratishthan’s Tanvir Award in 2004 for his contribution to Indian theater, and in 1966 received the Padma Shri award. He won the Padma Bhushan award in 1991, and was given India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2010.