Giant flamingos? Art Nights event showcases wild creativity of regional artists

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Art Nights at the Gate Village in Dubai. (Arab News)
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Various art pieces were displayed during the night. (Arab News)
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It was organized by the Dubai International Financial Center. (Arab News)
Updated 20 March 2019

Giant flamingos? Art Nights event showcases wild creativity of regional artists

  • The Art Nights took place at Gate Village in Dubai
  • It was organized by the Organized by the Dubai International Financial Center

DUBAI: A showcase of regional artistic talent went on display at a bi-annual community event in the UAE.
Art Nights, held on Tuesday at Gate Village, in Dubai, included gigantic installations of pink flamingos, quirky sculptures, photographs portraying Dubai heritage, and examples of the latest technological developments on the art scene.

Organized by the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), Art Nights boasted a variety of works from local and international artists “rarely seen by the public.”
A DIFC statement said: “The plethora of local artists participating in DIFC Art Nights is a testament to the established and burgeoning talent the region has cultivated.”
The event was staged at DIFC’s ritzy complex on Sheikh Zayed Road and stand-out pieces included Alicia Eggert’s playful use of lights and words to depict “the relationship of language, time, and image.”
Some of the artists were on hand to chat with visitors. Emirati visual artist Rawdha Al-Ketbi was displaying a rusted and broken “time capsule” which she had found in Abu Dhabi and manipulated to look even more antiquated.
“As an artist, I usually go to abandoned places and collect objects. I sometimes find personal belongings, and photographs of the people who used to live there,” Al-Ketbi said.
The event also included a government social enterprise initiative that showcased hand-knotted Afghan carpets, while art start-up venture Lemink displayed a digital frame that projects iconic paintings.


THE BREAKDOWN Ibrahim Chalhoub — ‘In the Shadow of a Dwindling Economy’

Updated 02 July 2020

THE BREAKDOWN Ibrahim Chalhoub — ‘In the Shadow of a Dwindling Economy’

The AFP photographer talks us through his viral image of a woman standing next to her empty fridge in Tripoli, taken this year as Lebanon’s financial crisis worsens.

This project is actually a team effort. It started from our regional office in Cyprus, where the head of the photo department, Mario Goldman, wanted to show the level of poverty in a dwindling economy. So, we asked, “What would really make a picture show something like this?” We wanted to take people into the houses of others — those who are mainly poor and hungry — and see what’s inside the house. And to show that type of hunger or lack of daily basic requirements, why not look in the fridge?

This picture was taken in a poor neighborhood in Tripoli called ‘El Kobbeh.’ The woman that you see is 60 years old. She lives alone in a one-room apartment that’s not hers — a man gave it to her to live in. She’s not able to buy food. Traders usually give her leftovers of vegetables and fruits so she can sustain herself on a daily basis. I never met her before, but when I was speaking to friends around me, they knew the houses of people in need and this lady was one of them.

I was able to reach her and told her that I would like to take a picture of her with her fridge open and she said, “No problem at all, because poverty is not a sin.” She told me that she previously had a bigger fridge, which she had to sell. She took the money to buy some food and a smaller fridge.

I was measuring the light, doing all the technical stuff and I took one click — and that was the photo. What touched me about this photo was the woman’s face. She has a face that tells you, “I am weak and nobody is around to help me and I’m alone.” I’m not showing someone in the street begging or taking food from the trash — it’s a lady living in her apartment, and you can feel sadness and darkness in this picture.

After the picture went viral, I received lots of comments from people who were sad, saying: “What is this government doing and how could people live like this?” NGOs have contacted me and a girl called me telling me that she wanted to fill one of those empty fridges. The reaction to this photo was extraordinary.