Healing as art: Marina Fokidis discusses Art Dubai’s online performance program

Still from Ultima Ratio Mountain of the Sun (2017). (Courtesy of the artist, Tabita Rezaire)
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Updated 02 April 2020

Healing as art: Marina Fokidis discusses Art Dubai’s online performance program

  • Now reconfigured to run online, Art Dubai’s performance program aims to provide collective therapy

DUBAI: In these strange times, where it feels to many as if we have suddenly assumed the role of characters in a sci-fi film, fighting off an unknown assailant whose attacks are highly unpredictable and deadly, most would agree that we need to conjure up other modes of power.

While the art world — mirroring the global economy — heads into what we hope will be a temporary downturn, art practitioners are looking for other ways to present their work, which has the ability to act as a means for individual and collective empowerment and as a vehicle to transcend the present unease.

Art Dubai’s Performance Program, reconfigured for online this year, addresses the topic of healing as an art form. Participating artists in “On(line) Healing” include Angelo Plessas from Greece, Tabita Rezaire from French Guiana, Brazilian Tiago Sant’Ana, Bahar Noorizadeh from Iran, and Imaad Majeed from Sri Lanka.




Marina Fokidis is the curator. (Image credit: Irene Vourloumi)

“What makes us happy during this period of self-isolation and social distancing is exchanging love and togetherness,” curator Marina Fokidis told Arab News.

Through the artists’ diverse practices, the program — according to the Art Dubai website — aims “to establish a medicinal space for our collective therapy to exist.” 

“I long thought that the world needed healing and that art needed to be used as a form of healing, but I never thought I’d see the day when Art Dubai would be entirely online,” Fokidis told Arab News from Greece. “Now (that) has become a necessity.” 




Experimental Education Protocol installation is by artist Angelo Plessas. (Supplied)

Long before COVID-19 shook the world, Fokidis planned to offer an online component to the performance program.

“I wanted to enlarge the idea of the performance to show that the performance can happen without the body actually being there,” she said. “Suddenly, this idea is more important than ever. I see healing as togetherness and through an online edition I wanted the artworks to reach as (many) people as possible.”

Most of the performances were already completed before the global outbreak of COVID-19, so Fokidis’ program is unaltered. “We have been working on the program for a year now and had no idea that this would happen,” she added.




Sant’Ana’s performance, “Passar em Branco,” explores the continuity of colonial systems within today’s society in relation to race and work in Brazil. (Supplied)

All the performances staged respond to ideas of healing the earth and our bodies. They were enacted all over the world in a variety of settings. Sant’Ana’s performance, “Passar em Branco,” explores the continuity of colonial systems within today’s society in relation to race and work in Brazil. “It takes place in the jungle of Brazil and focuses on Brazilian traditions and rituals,” explained Fokidis. “It was meant to be shown on screens at the fair and also online.”

Plessas’ work, “MissionToTheNoosphere.com,” which was part of the public program of art exhibition documenta 14 in 2017, consists of objects marked with symbols including the evil eye and various talismans that viewers can move by using their own keyboard — like a video game, except there are no winners or losers. “It’s like a painting that is moving; the user then becomes the painter,” Fokidis said. “It highlights the ambiguous approach of spirituality when coupled with technology.”

In “Deep Down Tidal” (2017), Rezaire uses healing to explore ideas of colonialism. The work is a video essay that incorporates spiritual, political, cosmological and technological narratives about “water and its role in communication.”




Imaad Majeed began his work a few months ago when COVID-19 was first appearing in the news. (Supplied)

Majeed actually began his work — “Please share my self-care” — a few months ago when COVID-19 was first appearing in the news.

“He created a tea ceremony that questions if distancing actually helps us talk more openly about what is difficult,” explains Fokidis. In “Please share my self-care,” Majeed immersed himself in the world of TikTok to explore how rituals and memes respond to the increasing threat of COVID-19. Each iteration of his tea ceremony responds to more dramatic circumstances as the world goes deeper and deeper into isolation.

“The program is a gesture of motivation; it’s not just a virtual tour, these are ephemeral works of art,” Fokidis concluded. “This is an answer to a total cancellation. We will be in the situation we are in for a while and I hope that this channel and others around the world will commission and show works that distract and heal us from the situation that we are in.”


UAE brand’s fresh approach to skincare looking good for future

Having lived in Dubai for more than seven years, Kathryn Jones learned a lot about the Middle Eastern market and the needs of people who live within the region. (Shutterstock)
Updated 25 May 2020

UAE brand’s fresh approach to skincare looking good for future

DUBAI: Skincare products can quite often sit on shelfs or in delivery vehicles for weeks and months, stored in unsuitable conditions.

And despite brands promoting them as organic and natural, some customers might question the effectiveness of products left lying around for long periods after being produced.

However, Kathryn Jones, founder of the UAE-based brand Kathryn Jones Hand Blended Serums, or KJ Serums for short, told Arab News how her company created fresh products every month for customers.

Jones, who is originally from Wales, in the UK, launched KJ Serums in 2017 and started her brand “out of necessity.” (Supplied)

“The concept of a freshly-made skincare serum is something quite different and our customers have really embraced it. They appreciate it’s a fresh product that must be used up within a month when it’s at its most active and effective and repurchased – almost like a food stuff,” she said.

Jones, who is originally from Wales, in the UK, launched KJ Serums in 2017 and started her brand “out of necessity.”

She added: “I simply could not afford the prices of some of the top skincare brands but still wanted excellent results.”

With her background in the biopharmaceuticals industry, she started experimenting and developing her own formulas. “The core proposition is ‘hand blended’ because that’s how it all started, by hand blending and perfecting the serum formulas myself here in the UAE,” she said.

Having lived in Dubai for more than seven years, the entrepreneur learned a lot about the Middle Eastern market and the needs of people who live within the region.

“Our climate here is extreme often for eight months or more of the year, especially in the Gulf region. A lot our customers will ask for a product that reduces oiliness and sheen on the skin and are reluctant to purchase products that contain a lot of oils, or are very heavily moisturizing,” Jones added.

The businesswoman believes the Middle East market is “wonderfully diverse” with different attitudes and expectations toward skincare products.

“Of course, this is a challenge to develop effective products which can address many different skin types and issues, but the market is truly receptive to new concepts,” she said.

Jones pointed out that with the current lockdown situation due to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), people had more time to care for their skin.

“The coronavirus pandemic has obviously confined us to our homes, and, given the steady increase in the number of enquiries we are receiving, it suggests consumers currently have more time to consider their online skincare purchases and perhaps have more time to invest in an effective routine,” she said.

On whether the COVID-19 outbreak would change the future of the skincare industry, Jones added: “I think that many consumers, either through necessity or out of a desire to support local brands might have chosen to source their products from different manufacturers and therefore brand loyalties may have been affected to a certain extent.”