HIGHLIGHTS from Sara Naim’s ‘Building Blocks,’ at The Third Line in Dubai

HIGHLIGHTS from Sara Naim’s ‘Building Blocks,’ at The Third Line in Dubai
“Building Blocks” by Sara Naim. (Supplied)
Updated 01 January 2019

HIGHLIGHTS from Sara Naim’s ‘Building Blocks,’ at The Third Line in Dubai

HIGHLIGHTS from Sara Naim’s ‘Building Blocks,’ at The Third Line in Dubai

DUBAI: Sara Naim’s exhibition ‘Buidling Blocks’ will be at The Third Line in Dubai from Jan.16 – Feb. 27

“Building Blocks”
This titular piece is created from one of three elements that Syrian artist Sara Naim has used in her second solo exhibition at The Third Line —  soap from Aleppo. The other two are jasmine and soil from Naim’s grandmother’s garden in Damascus. All three are triggers of scent memories from Naim’s homeland.

“Form 1”
Most of the exhibition features photographs taken through a scanning electron microscope, capturing the cellular structure of each element and magnifying it, then mounting the images on wood and plexiglass. The results included “deliberate glitches,” that, the artist says, “hint at the imperfections of memory and … human nature.”

“Form 5”
Naim’s large-scale reproduction of the organic “topographies” she views through the microscope, the artist suggests, “dissects how proportion shapes of perception and notion of boundary.” The press release asks: “If borders do not exist on a cellular scale, can we define ‘border’ on a macro scale?”

 


Saudi Arabia’s first philosophy journal breaks new ground

Saudi Arabia’s first philosophy journal breaks new ground
The Saudi Journal of Philosophical Studies (SJPS) was launched by the cultural platform Mana, which was set up two years ago. (Supplied)
Updated 14 April 2021

Saudi Arabia’s first philosophy journal breaks new ground

Saudi Arabia’s first philosophy journal breaks new ground
  • Philosophers from outside the Arab world contributed to the first issue, specifically from Germany and the US

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s first philosophy journal has been issued, with its editor-in-chief saying that the country was witnessing a “tangible philosophical renaissance.”
The Saudi Journal of Philosophical Studies (SJPS) was launched by the cultural platform Mana, which was set up two years ago.
According to its editor in chief, Sarah Al-Rajhi, the principal aim of the journal was to help researchers in the Kingdom, the Arab world and the West to publish their work without any financial cost and in line with accurate scientific standards.
“Philosophy indicates the position of knowledge within any culture,” she told Arab News. “It is no secret that Saudi Arabia is currently witnessing a tangible philosophical renaissance that should have culminated in the launch of a refereed academic philosophical journal. At Mana, we aim to train researchers in philosophical writing and create a kind of accumulation in this regard. We do this on our online platform, and more systematically in our peer-reviewed journal.”
She said that the SJPS advisory board included 12 leading thinkers and philosophers from the Arab world and the West, and that this number was appropriate because each member represented an orientation and school of thought.
The scholars were chosen on the basis of precise criteria, the most important of which were their research, their recognition by the scientific research community, their “abundant philosophical production” and their geographical distribution.
The advisory board includes members from Saudi Arabia, the US, Australia, the UK, Senegal, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Algeria.
Al-Rajhi said that the SJPS had received a large number of research papers in different languages from many countries since its launch.
“We subjected this research to close referees as the journal has a list of highly qualified referees. We apologized to some researchers whose research did not meet the required publishing standards, and we provided them with the referees’ reports that include important notes and instructions in order to help them address the deficiencies in their research and develop them.”

FASTFACTS

• The Saudi Journal of Philosophical Studies (SJPS) was launched by the cultural platform Mana, which was set up two years ago.

• The SJPS advisory board includes 12 leading thinkers and philosophers from the Arab world and the West.

• Among the open access articles are a paper from the US-Lebanese philosopher Raja Halwani.

• Another article is from Mohamed Mohamed Madian, philosophy professor at the University of Cairo.

Philosophers from outside the Arab world contributed to the first issue, specifically from Germany and the US.
The first edition of the SJPS was applauded by elite cultural figures and entities, including Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan. He tweeted the issue announcement, adding: “Such a great step to enrich Saudi philosophical content.”

Such a great step to enrich Saudi philosophical content. Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan
Saudi culture minister

Al-Rajhi, in turn, expressed her gratitude for the support that the Saudi cultural community received from the ministry.
“With your continuing encouragement and support to the knowledge and cultural movement in Saudi Arabia, the future will even be brighter with more and more steps,” she replied.
She said that some of the journal’s articles were free to access for readers on the Mana platform and that issues would also be sent to Saudi and Arab universities.
Al-Rajhi, who is the co-founder of Mana, said the journal could contribute to strengthening the Kingdom’s philosophical movement and that the encouragement of academic publishing in the field of philosophy was the pinnacle of this movement.
“To write a philosophical paper in a systematic way that adheres to the accuracy and academic standards in writing, and for the scientific community to read what you write, is a great thing and a beginning that can be both built and expanded upon. Moreover, we believe that the international character of the SJPS allows Saudi researchers to learn about the research output of their colleagues around the world.”
Al-Rajhi explained what distinguished the SJPS from other Arab and international refereed journals. It did not just present research papers, but a variety of content.
“This content included an introductory essay on a philosophical topic, an introductory essay about a philosopher, an introduction to a research project, translations of two valuable texts from English into Arabic, and finally a statistical analysis of the publications of the most important international publishing houses in the second half of 2020.”
She said there was a clear philosophical activity in Saudi Arabia that nobody could ignore and that it was part of the country’s general cultural activity, adding that had it not been for the “official institutions’ support of this activity, it would not have appeared this way.”
The next desired step within the Saudi philosophy community was to teach the subject in the country’s universities as an independent academic discipline, she said.
“We have tried to create a kind of intersection between philosophy and academia, and we are hopeful that it will be a step that paves the way toward establishing the first departments of philosophical studies in Saudi universities.”
Among the open access articles are a paper from the US-Lebanese philosopher Raja Halwani, who is a philosophy professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
In his abstract for the “Virtue of Integrity,” Halwani writes there is a powerful argument that integrity is not a virtue because it would be a redundant virtue, or what he calls the “redundancy objection.”
He said that integrity was usually tested when the agent was under pressure or tempted to act against their values. A virtuous person was someone who had virtues, including wisdom, and was able to act properly whenever the situation called for it.
Another article is from Mohamed Mohamed Madian, philosophy professor at the University of Cairo’s Faculty of Art.
He discusses Cornel Ronald West, a prominent left-wing African-American thinker, and his writing focuses on three levels expressing the West’s philosophy: Prophetic pragmatism, the philosopher’s concept of democracy, and the problem of racial discrimination.


Cairo International Film Festival announces 2021 dates

Lebanese actress Nour poses on the red carpet at the opening ceremony of the 41st edition of Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF). AFP
Lebanese actress Nour poses on the red carpet at the opening ceremony of the 41st edition of Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF). AFP
Updated 13 April 2021

Cairo International Film Festival announces 2021 dates

Lebanese actress Nour poses on the red carpet at the opening ceremony of the 41st edition of Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF). AFP

DUBAI:The 43rd edition of the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) is set to take place from Dec. 1-10, 2021, it was announced this week.

Egyptian film producer Mohamed Hefzy, president of the Cairo International Film Festival, said in a released statement: “Film Festivals have found a way to adapt and survive, acting as a lifeline for films and filmmakers that have been affected and challenged by the pandemic, including such threats as disrupted productions, and the closure of theatres throughout the world. Very few festivals managed to hold a physical edition, and we are proud to say that Cairo was one of them, setting the bar for an even more successful physical edition this year.”

This year’s festival will also offer prizes to 15 film projects.

“The festival’s programming team and management are thrilled by the challenge that this upcoming edition offers, and we are eager to present a diverse and rich lin0eup of films and a selection worthy of the festival’s audience that has come to expect more in terms of quality and surprises year after year,” added Hefzy.

“During the last three years we did strive to realize our fullest ambitions and utmost success in our offering of programming, and in the various support platforms offered to professionals by Cairo Industry Days, including the Cairo Film Connection which last year offered prizes valued at nearly $250,000 to 15 very different quality projects.”

As with the previous three editions, the festival will also feature the industry-focused Cairo Industry Days and its Cairo Film Connection co-financing event.

Last year’s edition featured more than 95 films from over 40 countries.

Despite challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, including 50 percent less capacity due to social distancing, the festival sold 30,000 tickets while 200 international guests also attended in 2020. 

CIFF is not only the region’s oldest and largest annual film festival, but also the only internationally accredited one in the Middle East and Africa.

In 2019, the cinematic event also became the first Arab film festival to sign the 5050×2020 gender equality pledge, committing to empowering women and increasing transparency about issues of gender disparity in the Middle Eastern film industry.

That same year, CIFF achieved Oscar-qualifying film festival status in the Short Film category, becoming the only festival in North Africa to join Cannes, Venice, Sundance, and other prestigious events in this recognition.


Instagram partners with Bahraini artist Hala Al-Abbasi on Ramadan stickers 

Instagram partners with Bahraini artist Hala Al-Abbasi on Ramadan stickers 
Updated 13 April 2021

Instagram partners with Bahraini artist Hala Al-Abbasi on Ramadan stickers 

Instagram partners with Bahraini artist Hala Al-Abbasi on Ramadan stickers 

DUBAI: Social media platform Instagram has teamed up with Bahraini artist Hala Al-Abbasi on three new stickers for Ramadan that were released on Monday.

The first sticker is an illustration of a mosque against the backdrop of star and a crescent. The second picture is a visual of tea and dates to represent Ramadan traditions. The last image is also an illustration of a crescent and stars. 

According to Instagram Design’s account: “Hala Al-Abbasi, an illustrator in Bahrain, was inspired by her favorite aspects of the holiday, and chose to reflect on the ‘beautiful moments that we share together.’” 

“Hala hopes that her stickers will be used throughout Ramadan to mark moments of celebration, from greetings to special suhoors and iftars, all the way to celebrating Eid,” the design-focused account added. 

To use the stickers, you will need to open the Instagram Story tray and add your favorite sticker to your story. 

Instagram/@haluulie

In celebration of the Ramadan, Instagram has added a feature that allows you to see stories with these stickers from people you follow all in a shared story.

Al-Abbasi took to her account to share her excitement for the collaboration. “OMG I DID RAMADAN STICKERS!! THEY ARE FINALLY OUT (sic),” she shared in her stories.

Instagram/@haluulie

“ENJOYED every process of creating these cute stickers for you guys! So you can use them as much as you can during your daily routine in Ramadan (sic),” the designer added. 


Oscar-nominated ‘Minari’ depicts immigrant family’s American dream

Oscar-nominated ‘Minari’ depicts immigrant family’s American dream
Updated 13 April 2021

Oscar-nominated ‘Minari’ depicts immigrant family’s American dream

Oscar-nominated ‘Minari’ depicts immigrant family’s American dream

CHENNAI: Minari is a kind of vegetable that grows in the East Asian wilds and is treasured for its medicinal properties and detoxifying effect. In the film directed by Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari” takes on a mysteriously providential sign, indicating that good things can come from the soil.

We watch how the movie’s protagonist Jacob Yi (Steven Yeun) insists on a livelihood from his land. While “Minari” was unfairly given a thumbs down in this year’s Golden Globes and disqualified in the Best Picture (drama) race, it flourished in the Oscars with a nomination in several categories: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress.

Yeun plays a Korean immigrant in America, a place he believes to be a “garden of Eden.”

Set in the 1980s, the story tells of how the US is not quite the land of honey and milk he thought it would be. Jacob and his wife Monica (Han Ye-hi) move from the stability of California, where she struggled in her job at a chicken hatchery, to the beautiful, expansive Arkansas. Jacob and his family, including his daughter Anne (Noel Cho) and son David (Alan Kim), may be stuck in a trailer for a home, but the 500 acres of land that come with it are sheer joy for the man, who plans to grow Korean vegetables for his cousins who miss their home cuisine.

Monica is less exuberant, given the fact that life in her new home is a lot harder than what it was in California. David is strained by a cardiac problem and the nearest hospital is an hour’s drive away, worrying his mother. But Jacob relentlessly pushes ahead with his dream, and even invites Monica’s elderly mother Soon-ja (Korean screen legend Youn Yuh-jung) to take care of the children while the couple are away at work.

Chung peppers his work with delightful incidents, although there is understandable tension and disappointment when Jacob finds it hard to strike water for his land. But with the kids’ grandmother playing a pacifist, calming frayed nerves and acting as a bridge between Korea and the US by introducing some traditional Asian values, the small family ploughs on.

Chung weaves into the script his own experiences growing up in an Arkansas farm in the 1980s, and gives it a pleasurably languid feel. Lachlan Milne’s camera captures the soothing radiance of the green environment with the glowing rays of the sun beating down. Emile Mosseri’s score adds to this calming effect with a score that has a lovely old-world charm. Yeun’s intelligent piece of acting, and Han’s performance as a worrying mother with Kim adding the mischievous element, ensures that “Minari” is a must-watch for all who believe that cinema must be more than just a restless string of images and drama.


Venice Biennale announces 17th International Architecture Exhibition to be curated by Lebanese educator

Venice Biennale announces 17th International Architecture Exhibition to be curated by Lebanese educator
Updated 13 April 2021

Venice Biennale announces 17th International Architecture Exhibition to be curated by Lebanese educator

Venice Biennale announces 17th International Architecture Exhibition to be curated by Lebanese educator
  • Show curator is Lebanese educator and MIT professor Hashim Sarkis
  • Program includes pavilions from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Egypt 

ROME: The Venice Biennale’s 17th International Architecture Exhibition will be open to the public from May 22 to Nov. 21, organizers said on Monday.

The exhibition is called “How will we live together?” and it will be at the Giardini, the Arsenale and Forte Marghera areas in line with COVID-19 prevention measures and rules, they said.

It will be curated by Hashim Sarkis, a Lebanese educator and architect who since 2015 has been professor and dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT.

Sarkis was named curator of the 2020 Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2018, but this edition was canceled due to the pandemic.

The exhibition will include 110 participants from 46 countries, with increased representation from Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

Five countries are taking part in the Biennale Architettura 2021 for the first time:  Iraq, Azerbaijan​, Grenada, and Uzbekistan.

The exhibition program includes pavilions from Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE.

Saudi Arabia’s pavilion will be in the Arsenale and is called “Accommodations.” Its curators are Uzma Rizvi and Murtaza Vali. Hessa Al-Bader, Hussam Dakkak and Basmah Kaki will exhibit their works at the Venice Biennale.

“We need a new spatial contract,” Sarkis told a press conference. “In the context of widening political divides and growing economic inequalities, we call on architects to imagine spaces in which we can generously live together.”

The architects invited to participate are encouraged to include other professions such as artists, builders, and craftspeople, but also politicians, journalists, social scientists, and everyday citizens.

“The Biennale Architettura 2021 asserts the vital role of the architect as both cordial convener and custodian of the spatial contract,” Sarkis added. “In parallel, the 17th exhibition also stresses that architecture inspires the ways we live together in its material, spatial, and cultural specificity. In that respect, we ask the participants to highlight those aspects of the main theme that are uniquely architectural.”

The curator said that the exhibition’s title was as much a “social and political” question as a spatial one.

“Rapidly changing social norms, growing political polarization, climate change, and vast global inequalities are making us ask this question more urgently and at different scales than before. In parallel, the weakness of the political models being proposed today compels us to put space first and perhaps, like Aristotle, look at the way architecture shapes inhabitation for potential models for how we could live together.”

He said the Biennale Architettura 2021 was motivated by new kinds of problems that the world was putting in front of architecture, and that it was also inspired by the emerging activism of young architects and the radical revisions being proposed by the architecture profession to take on these challenges.

“Now more than ever, architects are called upon to propose alternatives. As artists, we defy the inaction that comes from uncertainty to ask ‘What if?’ Finally, as builders they draw from their bottomless well of optimism. The confluence of roles in these nebulous times can only make our agency stronger and, we hope, our architecture more beautiful.”