Highlights from the Dubai art exhibition ‘Made in Tashkeel 2019’

'Made in Tashkeel 2019'. (Supplied)
Updated 30 July 2019

Highlights from the Dubai art exhibition ‘Made in Tashkeel 2019’

Here are some selected works from Arab artists being shown in the Dubai art space’s annual exhibition. 

‘Come Fly With Me’

Badr Abbas

The self-taught Emirati artist uses much of his Cubist-style work to explore his country’s heritage. Of this piece, he writes, “We are inheriting a culture of eating in the UAE that is bypassing our traditional recipes and laying on some serious calories. Even in-flight, the menu options are deliciously varied … Indulgence has become more accessible than ever before.” The “Food for Thought” series, Abbas says, is “a satirical representation of modern culture.”

‘Relations’

Ibraheem Khamayseh

Khamayseh, who was born in Riyadh, and whose father is a calligrapher, contributes this piece, which he describes as “an experiment in letterforms.” He built it up from a collection of “daily sketches, experimental studies and graphic elements” and says that it is an attempt to break the rules of lettering by looking at the letters “as shapes and forms, rather than their functionality.”

‘State of Mind: The Struggle To Create’

Ichraq Bouzidi

The Dubai-based Moroccan artist is described by Tashkeel as “an admirer of both surrealism and minimalism” whose work “taps into the duality between real and surreal in a theatrical but minimalist way.” This mixed-media triptych, she says, represents “the struggle to create, the first phase in the process of shaping an artistic work — often inevitable, always consuming.”

‘Abandoned Places’

Jassim Al-Awadhi

One of the UAE’s premier photographers, Al-Awadhi has worked in the crime-scene field for over 20 years, which has had a significant influence on his photography, which, Tashkeel says, combines “documentation and nature, adopting an integrated approach of science and philosophy.” His “Abandoned Places” series, Al-Awadhi says, reveals locations where “silence has become the master, and repeated this scene every day without boredom.”

‘Entanglement’ 

Joanna Barakat

Barakat, a UAE-based Palestinian artist, uses painting, photography and tatreez (Palestinian embroidery) in her work “to question collective ideas and stereotypes using a reimagined Palestinian aesthetic.  In this work, two identical motifs are joined. The four squares in each motif “resemble the four chambers of the heart,” while their connection “removes the illusion of separateness.”

‘Sheep’

Khaled Al-Shaer

The young Emirati artist’s “Sheep” is a humorous look at “connotations that the Emirati community has used in identifying certain characteristics of individuals in the dating scene,” he says. Specifically, it’s a portrayal of men who continue to pursue women whom it’s clear have no interest in them. “He continuously follows her around as though called upon by a shepherd,” Al-Shaer says.

‘Temporary Memory’

Ruba Al-Araji

Al-Araji was born and raised in Baghdad, and is a trained architect whose artwork varies from realistic portraits to comic-book art. This piece, she says, depicts a “living station” with “cells that form to control the objects that we see around us,” as well as the effect that words play on our behavior, “changing the way we feel on a day-to-day basis.”


‘It Must Be Heaven’: Elia Suleiman’s sardonic take on the world

Suleiman, who plays the lead role as himself, explores identity, nationality and belonging. (Supplied)
Updated 23 October 2019

‘It Must Be Heaven’: Elia Suleiman’s sardonic take on the world

MUMBAI: Elia Suleiman’s “It Must Be Heaven,” which was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival, is pure cinema. Like his earlier works, here too the Palestinian director uses wit, sarcasm and minimalism, this time to present a series of vignettes that are funny but also a powerful lambast of the world we live in. Suleiman, who plays the lead role as himself, explores identity, nationality and belonging.

He says people worldwide now live in fear amid global geopolitical tensions. Today, checkpoints are just about everywhere: In airports, shopping malls, cinemas, highways — the list is endless.

“It Must Be Heaven” was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival. (Supplied) 

Suleiman’s earlier features, such as “Chronicle of a Disappearance” and “Divine Intervention,” showed us everyday life in the occupied Palestinian territories. This time, it is Paris and New York. 

The first scene is hilarious, with a bishop trying to enter a church with his followers. The gatekeeper on the other side of the heavy wooden door is probably too intoxicated and refuses to let the priest in, leading to a comical situation. Suleiman’s life in Nazareth is filled with such incidents — snippets that have been strung together to tell us of tension in society. Neighbors turn out to be selfish, and only generous when they know they are being watched. 

The Palestinian director uses wit, sarcasm and minimalism, to present a series of vignettes that are funny but also a powerful lambast of the world we live in. (Supplied)

In Paris, the cafes along the grand boulevards, and the young women who pass by, are typical of France’s capital. But a cut to Bastille Day, with tanks rolling by in a show of strength, jolts us back to harsh reality. In New York, Suleiman’s cab driver is excited at driving a Palestinian. 

The film has an interesting way of storytelling. The scenes begin as observational shots, but the camera quickly changes positions to show Suleiman watching from the other side of the room or a street. The camera then returns to where it first stood, and this back-and-forth movement is delightfully engaging.

The framing is so perfect, and the colors so bright and beautiful, that each scene looks magical. And as the director looks on at all this with his usual deadpan expression, a sardonic twitch at the corner of his mouth, we know all this is but illusion. There is bitter truth ahead!