Spoken word artist makes herself at home in the Middle East

Danabelle Gutierrez at Louvre Abu Dhabi, where she appeared last month. (Supplied)
Updated 03 December 2018

Spoken word artist makes herself at home in the Middle East

  • Danabelle Gutierrez emphasized how the UAE has been instrumental for her as an artist.
  • She has published two poetry books while living in Dubai and is soon releasing a third book

DUBAI: “I've been a vagabond for far too long now. I can't keep navigating the rough terrains in the land of men. I would like to set my bags down now. I want to go home,” reads a passage from a prose written by Danabelle Gutierrez, a Dubai-based Filipino writer who has found her home in the UAE’s cultural oasis.

Gutierrez settled in Dubai more than a decade ago after moving between five different cities – Manila, Vienna, Oman, Cairo and Doha – a transient life, which according to her, has informed her art.

“I’ve been moving from country to country since I was 7 years old, I bring every city that I’ve lived in, and at some point, called home, with me, and it’s evident in my work, the imagery is all over the poetry,” she said.

“I have lived here for nearly 15 years, and it’s the longest that I’ve stayed anywhere,” she added.

Although Gutierrez admitted that she’s only in the country “for as long my job allows me to be here,” she emphasized how the UAE has been instrumental for her as an artist.

She has published two poetry books while living in Dubai and is soon releasing a third book, which she said would deal “a lot with the idea of home and this somehow nomadic existence.”

In 2014, Gutierrez started going to spoken word gigs, sitting in the audience. But after attending three open mic events, she finally stood up and performed her poems, which usually tackle raw human emotions, drawn from her own experiences.

Four years later, Gutierrez’s audience got bigger, as she was handpicked to perform at Louvre Abu Dhabi in early November, a gig she described as the best thing that happened to her career.

“It’s still not my favorite thing to do. I only do it because I want to be fair to the work that I’ve written, and poetry is meant to be read,” she said.

Gutierrez wishes to write and publish more books in the future, while also regularly attending spoken word events.

Gutierrez will be appearing as part of the fourth annual Hekayah at the East Plaza in New York University Abu Dhabi on Dec. 5, along with nine other award-winning spoken word artists. 


Highlights from the Najd Collection set to auction at Sotheby’s

Forty works from Najd Collection will be auctioned at Sotheby’s on October 22. (Courtesy: Sotheby’s)
Updated 13 min 29 sec ago

Highlights from the Najd Collection set to auction at Sotheby’s

Here are some highlights from the Najd Collection, from which 40 works will be auctioned at Sotheby’s on October 22. 

Osman Hamdy Bey

Sotheby’s bills the Najd Collection as “one of the greatest collections of Orientalist paintings ever assembled.” Before the auction, all 155 works will be travelling to New York, LA, Dubai and Paris for public viewing, including Bey’s “Koranic Instruction,” seen here.

Eugène Fromentin

Fromentin’s dramatic 1864 oil painting,“Windstorm on the Esparto Plains of the Sahara” — in which a storm menaces a group of horsemen with no shelter in sight — is expected to sell for between $490,000-$730,000. Fromentin was a French painter and writer best-known for his works featuring the land and people of Algeria. 

Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant

“The King of Morocco Leaving to Receive a European Ambassador” is typical of the French painter and etcher’s work. Benjamin-Constant was well-known in his day (he received a state funeral in France in 1902), but has largely been forgotten since, perhaps because his work was so traditional.