Art Dubai Residents: Artist Longinos Nagila explores the power of mass consumerism

Longinos Nagila works on a new piece in 2020.  A.R.M. Holding is the home of Residents and the program is supported by Tashkeel. (Photo courtesy: Lena Kassicieh)
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Updated 29 March 2020

Art Dubai Residents: Artist Longinos Nagila explores the power of mass consumerism

  • Despite the lack of a physical show, the works of Longinos Nagila, an experimental multimedia artist based in Nairobi, Kenya, were completed and engage technology and found objects to investigate the human condition and the implications of modernity

DUBAI: With Johannesburg-based curator Kabelo Malatsie at the helm of the third edition of Art Dubai Residents, six African artists were due to exhibit under a theme of “Internal logic” prior to the shuttering of numerous public events across the UAE due to COVID-10. 

Despite the lack of a physical show, the works of Longinos Nagila, an experimental multimedia artist based in Nairobi, Kenya, were completed and engage technology and found objects to investigate the human condition and the implications of modernity.

“Having the opportunity to make work out of my normal geographical space means that I have freedom to try new things,” Nagila told Arab News of his time working in Dubai. “It exposes you to a different kind of audience, who come with different knowledge.” Focused on using art as a tool of communication, he explained that the key to an artwork is not the piece itself, rather, the dialogue and relationship between artist, work and audience. “I can reach out more when I bring objects together,” said Nagila. “Objects have their own limitations, leading me to use mediums like film, video installation or photography, but the presentation gives them new life.” 




Longinos Nagila  explores consumerism. (Photo courtesy: Lena Kassicieh)

Nagila’s playful approach to producing his contemplative “immersions of representational aspects of objects” begs the viewer to be mindfully explorative. “I work with subjects that affect human beings in contemporary times,” he remarked. “I’ve worked with fashion, migration, identity, and for a time I put my focus on art itself, exploring what is or is not art. But for this residency, I looked toward capitalism, products that have been branded as symbols of consumerism and its trappings on society at large.” An inescapable reality, consumerism exists hand-in-hand with life today and “as the world becomes larger, turning into a global village, consumerism and capitalism uses that as an advantage,” asserted Nagila, lamenting that upon picking up a bird’s nest, he found part of it had been woven with a Cadbury chocolate wrapper. “It’s becoming part of the ecosystem, not just through what we consume, but even the remnants, the footprints of products and packaging.”

Using non-traditional materials, the works tackle urgent issues with unavoidable first-hand confrontation. “It doesn’t mean I don’t have respect for traditional materials, but I feel other materials work better because when I look at a painting, it’s trying to create an illusion of space,” indicates Nagila. “Objects that people have used and have had meaning in their lives are more powerful and communicative. So why should I fake it when I have the real thing?”

Longinos Nagila is represented by Circle Art Gallery in Nairobi, Kenya.


Celebrity-loved brand By Far finds success in region amid pandemic

Updated 13 July 2020

Celebrity-loved brand By Far finds success in region amid pandemic

  • Bulgaria-based accessories label By Far has managed to remain unscathed from the ongoing pandemic
  • The accessories label has seen a surge in sales in the Middle East amid the health crisis

DUBAI: To say that the fashion industry has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus disease would be an understatement. But one brand that has managed to remain unscathed from the ongoing pandemic is Bulgaria-based accessories label By Far.

The A-list beloved brand, founded by twin sisters Sabina Gyosheva and Valentina Bezuhanova, alongside their best friend Denitsa Bumbarova in 2016, notes that it has actually seen a dramatic increase in sales in the Middle East during the crisis, exceeding pre-pandemic figures — in spite of all of the regulations put in place to slow the spread of the disease.

“Middle Eastern countries took harsh measures to control the outbreak, but it didn’t seem to weaken discretionary spending,” said the brand to Arab News, citing a massive rise in sales during April and May — the peak of the pandemic.

By Far was founded in 2016 by twin sisters Sabina Gyosheva and Valentina Bezuhanova, alongside their best friend Denitsa Bumbarova. Supplied

The brand credits the Muslim holidays of Ramadan and Eid for contributing to sales, revealing that the label’s “Tanya” shoes, as well as its “Mini” and “Miranda” bags, proved to be the best-sellers among their Arab clientele.

According to By Far, they witnessed a 400 percent increase in sales coming from the UAE and a whopping 800 percent increase in sales in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The figures are impressive, considering that retail sales plummeted worldwide, leading to closures of many fashion brands who failed to meet their targets.

The globally-recognized brand has been picked up by influential retailers like Ounass, Net-a-Porter, MyTheresa and Moda Operandi. Supplied

The reason for the success, its founders believe, is that the brand has never relied on physical spaces. Buying activity has largely moved online due to retail spaces closing, and By Far has always been a digital brand with a massive online community.

The globally-recognized brand is sold in influential retailers like Ounass, Net-a-Porter, MyTheresa and Moda Operandi in addition to its own e-commerce platform. Additionally, its Instagram account boasts a following of 371,000 users.

“In times like these, when we needed to support each other and stay connected more than ever, we really relied on our digital skills,”By Far told Arab News. “The situation definitely gave us a new perspective and we had the time to re-evaluate and re-structure some of our processes so that we can improve for the future.”

The Bulgaria-based accessories brand is extremely affordable and sustainable. Supplied

By Far even showcased its most recent Cruise 2020/2021 collection of shoes and bags via a virtual showroom. “We strongly believe that digital is a huge part of the future of fashion, and it is something that we will surely continue to develop,” the brand revealed.

At a time when sustainability and financial restraints are at the forefront of people’s minds, it also helps that By Far is extremely affordable and sustainable as far as luxury fashion goes. Every pair of shoes is priced between $200 and $600, and is created out of dead-stock fabrics (which helps keep the prices low) gathered from Italian factories.

“Sustainability has always been one of our top priorities in By Far. It has never been a question of whether we should do it or not. We have always tried to integrate sustainable practices as much as possible,” it said.

The brand has found fans in everyone from Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid to Beyonce and Selena Gomez. Supplied

The new collection includes playful pieces with colors custom-made in Tuscany. “We really had a very precise idea of what we want —cool lagoon blues, pomodoro red, grass green in combination with latte, khaki and matcha green hues to evoke calmness and a lightness of touch,” they explained. “We wanted to bring the collective spirit of optimism, joy and liberation with a euphoric palette.”

Chances are, you’ve already seen the chic new pieces on your favorite blogger or celebrity on Instagram. The brand’s designs have been sported by everyone from model Gigi Hadid to superstar Beyonce. As for who they would love to see wearing their creations next? “It would be a dream to see Queen Rania  (of Jordan) in By Far,” said the trio.

Perhaps she is one of the “fabulous Arab women” who inspired the brand’s forthcoming new collection, which is being specifically designed for this region.