The Art & Soul of Mosul: Google helps preserve Maslawi cultural landmarks 

The Art & Soul of Mosul: Google helps preserve Maslawi cultural landmarks 
Our Dreams, photographer by Moyasser Nasseer. (Supplied)
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Updated 01 February 2021

The Art & Soul of Mosul: Google helps preserve Maslawi cultural landmarks 

The Art & Soul of Mosul: Google helps preserve Maslawi cultural landmarks 

DUBAI: Google Arts & Culture has announced the launch of a new online project that aims to help preserve Maslawi heritage and cultural landmarks using technology.




The burnt library of Mosul, photographed by Ali Youssef Al-Baroodi. (Supplied)

The new initiative, titled “The Art & Soul of Mosul,” allows people to discover the Noori Complex, an iconic cultural site that faced destruction. Both Iraqis and tourists can also get a chance to walk through Mosul’s Old City using street view, and will be able to view 3D models of heritage sites at risk, such as Mosul’s first mosque and one of its oldest churches. 




AlUmayyed Mosque, photographed by Moyasser Nasseer. (Supplied)

The project, which is a collaboration with Iraqi radio station AlGhad, showcases artwork that brings the stories of the city and its people to life – including the lives of women and children during and after the war, and art from the 2018 “Return to Mosul” exhibition hosted at the Mosul Cultural Museum in Iraq. 




Renovated blue alley, photography by Mohammed Abdulhaq. (Supplied)

Marwan Tariq, an artist who participated in the 2018 exhibition said in a released statement that “the message of the workshop to the world is that the city of Mosul, the city of art, is still alive despite the destruction and grinding war that destroyed people and the infrastructure…. it is full of life and peace.”


Art installation ‘Beirut Narratives’ is a testimonial from a traumatized city

Art installation ‘Beirut Narratives’ is a testimonial from a traumatized city
The text-based installation “Beirut Narratives” is currently in display in Lebanon. Supplied
Updated 23 July 2021

Art installation ‘Beirut Narratives’ is a testimonial from a traumatized city

Art installation ‘Beirut Narratives’ is a testimonial from a traumatized city
  • Text-based installation offered residents ‘a silent, anonymous way of protesting’ after the devastating port explosion

DUBAI: “I burst into tears.” “I was shaking.” “My chair flew me right above ground.” “No right to dream.” “Bitter feelings.” “Apocalypse.” 

These are some of the brief-but-harrowing testimonials from survivors of the catastrophic Beirut Port explosion of August 4, 2020, which are now being publicly displayed on the streets of the Lebanese capital as part of the text-based installation “Beirut Narratives.” The installation was conceived by Lebanese sisters, architects and co-founders of Architecture et Mécanismes, Celine and Tatiana Stephan. 

From the banking crisis to price inflation and fuel shortage, it has been a surreal year of lows for most Lebanese civilians. On the day we had arranged to discuss the sisters’ latest project, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri resigned after failing to form a new government. 

The text-based installation was conceived by Lebanese sisters, architects and co-founders of Architecture et Mécanismes, Celine and Tatiana Stephan. Supplied

“Each one of us is thinking: ‘How can people still be so adapted to such a situation, in terms of the economic crisis and the socio-political situation?’ Everything is happening all at the same time,” Celine told Arab News. “People are, I believe, tired and frustrated. What we’re trying to do, as architects, with this urban installation is to rethink the city.”

Unlike many young professionals who are hoping to migrate or have already left the country for better opportunities abroad, Celine and Tatiana have decided to stay for now, for better or for worse, in their home country. “Beirut is like a parent to us,” said Tatiana. “When your parents are getting old, you just don’t leave them behind and go. You help them, support them and push them to be better.” 

Continuing the theme of family, Celine added: “I have two daughters. I would like them to live in Lebanon and see change happening and be part of that change. Despite its misery, chaos, and lack of infrastructure, it’s a city that inspires us at all levels.”

The Stephan sisters gathered testimonials from a diverse group of people, including friends and family, firefighters and healthcare workers. Supplied

In recent months, the pair turned their attention towards buildings and spaces in the neighborhoods of Gemmayze, Karantina and Mar Mikhael, which have been damaged and stand empty in the aftermath of the blast. In a commemorative manner, these silent and neglected buildings are given their own voice. 

“We wanted to make those buildings talk, because it’s somehow like a new way of manifestation,” explained Celine. “It’s a silent, anonymous way of protesting,” added Tatiana. 

The Stephan sisters gathered testimonials from a diverse group of people, including friends and family, firefighters and healthcare workers, all of whom were releasing pent-up anger and sadness and were willing to share their experiences of that horrific day. Children also contributed drawings to the project. 

Children also contributed drawings to the project. Supplied

For the Stephans, it was all an emotional and healing experience. “We sat with those people, we talked to them, we cried, we heard every single story. I still have goosebumps now,” said Celine. 

Divided into three categories — descriptions, emotions, and reflections — the testimonials were written out with red, black and white spray paint onto pieces of brown jute, later transformed by stitching into bold tapestries or “fragments.” According to the Stephans, who did the spraying and stitching, the use of jute was intentional, as it is accessible and serves as a reminder of the durable material used to transfer wheat into the silos at the Port of Beirut. 

The sisters and their collaborator, the Lebanese-Danish creative consultant Mira Hawa, went to different sites, personally hanging the fragments, which is in itself a risky task. “We had to go to the edge of a high building, on the 11th floor, and the wind was extremely strong. We had to improvise, we didn’t know how to install it because it was huge and there was a lot of wind,” Tatiana said of one of their challenging experiences near the port. 

The testimonials were written out with red, black and white spray paint onto pieces of brown jute, later transformed by stitching into bold tapestries. Supplied

Seeing the women lead the installation process on site was surprising for some. “Men were coming out in their sleeveless vests, with their big muscles, hanging over their balconies to see who these three girls were,” said Hawa. “One of the first comments we got was: ‘Who’s going to help you? Where are the guys?’” 

Despite encountering difficulties in accessing some buildings, they persisted and installed the work on 13 buildings. For some, the fragments proved to be too intense — akin to rubbing salt into a wound. 

“Some people were very disturbed when they saw the piece,” said Celine. “I remember one time we were not even installing; we were trying to talk to an NGO to discuss the possibility of installing. The owner of a building was there and he was really destabilized and he started crying. We felt really bad and asked ourselves so many questions: Are we making the right choice?” 

The project also tackles the notion of speaking up in an environment that often suppresses inner thoughts and feelings related to trauma. Supplied

Tatiana echoed Celine’s sentiments, highlighting how sensitive this whole project has been. “I felt that for some who were engaged in the piece, you feel in their eyes as if you put a knife into a wound,” she said. But overall, the project was positively viewed and embraced by locals. It brought out a sense of community, with many assisting the women during the arduous installation process. 

“We were touched by everyone who wanted to help, who offered us coffee, or water. They barely have anything to eat and drink,” remarked Celine. 

“Beirut Narratives” ticks a number of boxes, acting as a form of cultural activism, supporting the Lebanese people and offering them a sense of justice. The Stephans and Hawa hope that one day these fragments can also travel abroad, igniting empathy with the Lebanese diaspora. The project also tackles the notion of speaking up in an environment that often suppresses inner thoughts and feelings related to trauma. 

“We have a very painful habit in the Middle East, that every time something (bad) happens we just get on with it. I think it’s about time we stopped and made some noise,” said Hawa. “When you see the pieces on the street, it’s very bold, it’s very raw and prominent. You cannot ignore it.”


Pop-culture highlights from across the region

Pop-culture highlights from across the region
Photographed by Kishore Das. Supplied
Updated 23 July 2021

Pop-culture highlights from across the region

Pop-culture highlights from across the region

DUBAI: From indie electronica to live performances, and adorable animals to wilting trees, these are the pop culture moments you might have missed from the region.

Kishore Das 

The Indian photographer was one of five winners of the Dubai-based Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award’s (HIPA) June Instagram photo contest, the theme of which was “Your Pet.”

HIPA Secretary General, Ali bin Thalith explained the reason for the theme in a press release, saying: “The relationship between humans and their pets is deeply ancient. The quality of its emotions is complex; it’s rich in detail, situations and beautiful in its spontaneous reactions.”

Das won for this image taken in 2016 at the Sacribel Elephant Camp in India’s Karnataka state. “I was catching a scene in the distance when I suddenly noticed this little elephant playing with one of the caretakers near me. I wanted to capture this perfect emotional moment, so I had to use my 70-300 mm zoom lens. One of the reasons that I love this photo is because it was the baby elephant who approached and showed his closeness and interdependence,” Das said in the press release. 

It's a major win for Das, who only began a full-time photography career in February last year, after quitting his job in IT.

Gurumiran

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by miran gurunian (@gurumiran)

The veteran of the Beirut indie scene (real name Miran Gurunian) pays tribute to his Armenian roots with his latest single “Partsratsoum.” The song is based on a poem by Vahan Tekeyan, an Armenian poet and activist, known as The Prince of Armenian Poetry.

“I related a lot to the story — which is a popular poem in schools,” Gurunian told Arab News. “I composed the music to reflect the theme, which is about the advice offered by a father to his son: Aim, reach, and rise high, but take along your loved ones, because the higher up one reaches, the colder and lonelier it gets.” The track has a jazz-y, folk-y feel, with Makram Aboulhosn’s double bass, Delaney Stöckli’s cinematic string arrangement and Dani Shukri’s stuttering drum beat underpinning Gurunian’s typically tasteful guitar work. And it was written in a single day. “Everything fell into place effortlessly,” Gurunian said. 

Zahed Sultan 

“Born to a Kuwaiti father and Indian mother, I had the fluidity to straddle both cultures; navigating being bullied and feeling shame to find my (super)power,” the London-based multimedia artist wrote of his latest single, “Hindi Majnoon.” He described the track — auto-tuned vocals over a pounding Bollywood-style beat — as “a tribute to people who were ‘othered’ for being different in whichever way while growing up.” The accompanying video, shot between Kuwait and London, is, he said, “a journey through industrial crevices and societal tropes laced with nostalgia to bring you closer to the experience of migrant ‘workers’ living in Kuwait.”

Tayar

The Arabic indie duo (singer-songwriter Ahmad Farah and producer and filmmaker Bader Helalat) have released a new two-track EP called “Khams Sneen.” The title track started out as a folk song, according to Farah, but has since morphed into a largely synth-driven indie-pop number. It’s heavily inspired by US duo MGMT, Farah told Arab News, because “they wrote a lot of songs that discussed childhood and also had a sense of absurdity.”

Sara Naim

The Dubai-based photographer’s striking 2019 image “Broken Palm” is part of “Chemistry of Feeling,” a community exhibition of analog photography that runs until Sept. 21 at Dubai’s Gulf Photo Plus. “Drawing on the delicate connections between a tumultuous past year for human relationships and photography, this exhibition locates moments of slowness, micro- and macro- revolution, introspection, and the folding priorities of the present, captured in film format,” the gallery says of the show. “We invite viewers to engage with these varied personal stories, and in the process, meditate on what it is to feel, care, and see in a fraught contemporary landscape.”

LUMI 

The much-lauded, often-inactive Lebanese duo — Marc Codsi and Mayaline Hage — dropped the title track of their new EP “Eternity,” a four-track record written between 2019 and 2021 “while our home country Lebanon and the rest of the world went through unprecedented turmoil,” the duo said on social media. The record is “rooted in the feelings and emotions triggered by these strange times.”

On the title track, Hage’s dramatic vocals float over increasingly urgent instrumentation, which, they said, “resonates like an ode to transcendence, to what is above and beyond human experiences and resides inside of us, in a longing to stay connected to that energy. We find ourselves transported in a frenetic and delicious race, suspended between a wild and aggressive electronic rhythm and a transcendent voice coming from another dimension.”


REVIEW: ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ — Navot Papushado’s thriller is all froth, no flavor

REVIEW: ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ — Navot Papushado’s thriller is all froth, no flavor
“Gunpowder Milkshake” was directed by Navot Papushado. Supplied
Updated 23 July 2021

REVIEW: ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ — Navot Papushado’s thriller is all froth, no flavor

REVIEW: ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ — Navot Papushado’s thriller is all froth, no flavor
  • What could have been a celebration of female empowerment delivers condescension and confusion

AMSTERDAM: “Gunpowder Milkshake” director Navot Papushado is clearly a fan of the “John Wick” movies, in which Keanu Reeves stars as a stoic, multi-talented assassin facing off against hordes of other assassins in a series of staggeringly executed, stylishly shot fights, set in a world with its own hierarchy and rules, and a few neutral zones where violence is prohibited. And why not? The three “John Wick” movies are great.

In “Gunpowder Milkshake,” Karen Gillan stars as a stoic, multi-talented assassin facing off against hordes of other assassins in a series of stylishly shot fights, set in a world with its own hierarchy and rules, and a few neutral zones where violence is prohibited. Sadly, that’s where the similarities end.

The film stars Karen Gillan, Lena Headey and Angela Bassett. Supplied

Unlike the “John Wick” movies, the fight scenes in “Gunpowder Milkshake” are not staggeringly executed. They are clunky affairs that feel overstaged — like an amateur-dramatics group’s interpretation of a Hollywood fight scene. And Gillan, so popular as Nebula in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” is disappointingly uncharismatic as this movie’s heroine.

She plays Sam, the daughter of legendary hitwoman Scarlet (Lena Headey) who was forced to forsake Sam 15 years ago to go on the run, having killed someone who was ‘off-limits.’ In the present day, Sam is herself a stellar contract killer working for The Firm — the shadowy cabal for whom Scarlet was a regular Employee of the Month.

The movie is supposed to be a fun 90 minutes or so of great action sequences. Supplied

When a contract goes wrong and Sam kills the son of the boss of another criminal enterprise, The Firm decides it can no longer protect her. So she must also go on the run, accompanied by a young girl whose father she has just shot and who has no other relatives to look after her.

Pursued by a plethora of angry men (none of them a three-dimensional character or a worthwhile opponent), Sam and the young girl, and Scarlet (who turns up when Sam needs her most), and three female “librarians” (actually arms dealers for assassins) must fight for their lives. Women vs. men, see? But the women are the better fighters, yeah? It’s so transparent that it’s kind of insulting.

The movie is supposed to be a fun 90 minutes or so of great action sequences. Certainly, the lack of effort apparent in the dialogue and character building backs that up. And that’s fine. But when those sequences are not particularly thrilling (at no point is there any suggestion that the women are in danger of losing), what’s left?

 


Cinemagoers enjoy the big screen as Egypt relaxes COVID-19 restrictions to mark Eid

Egyptian actress Yasmin Raeis speaks during an AFP interview in the capital Cairo. (AFP file photo)
Egyptian actress Yasmin Raeis speaks during an AFP interview in the capital Cairo. (AFP file photo)
Updated 22 July 2021

Cinemagoers enjoy the big screen as Egypt relaxes COVID-19 restrictions to mark Eid

Egyptian actress Yasmin Raeis speaks during an AFP interview in the capital Cairo. (AFP file photo)
  • The movie revolves around a psychological condition affecting Hassan, played by Hosni, who has a strong relationship with his sick mother, portrayed by Sawsan Badr

CAIRO: Six Egyptian films dominated Egyptian cinemas during the Eid El-Adha holiday despite the precautionary measures taken against the coronavirus.

Most of the six films began showing days before the Eid Al-Adha holiday, or are continuing to be shown from previous seasons.

It marks the return of high-budget films after a long delay to avoid losses. The cinema business had been hit by the public’s reluctance to go to the movies due to the restrictions created by the coronavirus.

The demand for cinemas during Eid came after President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s decision that the Eid break would last eight days.

Cinemas’ capacity was raised to 70 percent instead of 50 percent and the 10 p.m. and midnight shows resumed as part of the decision.

The movie "Al-Arif," starring Ahmed Ezz, began showing last weekend before the start of the Eid season.

It made 3 million Egyptian pounds (nearly $192,000) in revenue during its first two days in cinemas.

It stars Ahmed Fahmy, Mahmoud Hamida, Rakeen Saad, Carmen Basibis and Mahmoud Hegazy. The high-budget movie was filmed in Bulgaria, Italy, Egypt and Malaysia with the help of a global team specialized in action scenes and creating explosions.

Actor Karim Abdel Aziz did well at cinemas with his movie "Some People Don’t Revisit the Marriage Officiant." The movie made 15 million Egyptian pounds in nine days.

The movie stars Dina El-Sherbiny, Majed El-Kadwany, Bayoumi Fouad and a number of guests of honor, including Ahmed Fahmy.

The movie, written by Ayman Wattar and directed by Ahmed El-Gendy, shows Aziz embodying more than one character.

The film "Mesh Anna" (Not Me), starring Tamer Hosni, was also a strong performer. It has made 26 million Egyptian pounds since it first started showing three weeks ago.

The movie revolves around a psychological condition affecting Hassan, played by Hosni, who has a strong relationship with his sick mother, portrayed by Sawsan Badr.

Actor Ramez Galal took over cinemas with his movie "Ahmed Notre Dame," which has been showing since Eid Al-Fitr. It made 19 million Egyptian pounds during its nine-week run.

"Mama is Pregnant" made 4 million Egyptian pounds during its six-week run. The movie is written by Louay El-Sayed, directed by Mahmoud Karim, and stars Laila Elwi, Bayoumi Fouad, Hamdi Al-Marghani, Mohammed Salam, Nancy Salah, Hoda Al-Etrebi, Sherif Desouky, Hoda Majd, Sami Maghawry, Badria Tolba and Sarah Abdel Rahman.

The film revolves around Elwi’s family. Fouad plays her husband and Al-Marghani and Salam play their two sons, one of whom is a doctor and the other an advertising director. Neither son wants to get married, despite their parents’ attempts to change their minds.


What We Are Buying Today: JildCraft

Photo/Supplied
Photo/Supplied
Updated 23 July 2021

What We Are Buying Today: JildCraft

Photo/Supplied
  • The pull-up leather is processed with oils and waxes

If you are a fan of the pristine, sleek and natural look of vintage leather goods, check out the amazing range of products offered by JildCraft.
Their leather offerings include wallets, belts, keychains, and accessories for tech products such as laptop bags, sleeves, and Apple AirPods case pouches. Other articles for travelers include passport covers, cigarette cases, sunglasses covers.
The pull-up leather is processed with oils and waxes. It is rough and tough leather that forms a natural patina the more you use it. The material is also made in a heavy volume to bear the wear and tear of everyday life.
The stylish products are designed to only use leather during manufacturing, skipping the use of synthetic materials like cloth linings.
JildCraft’s products have been updated to include new colors and shades, but still maintain the quality and patina of waxed leather.
The brand also offers customization, allowing you to personalize your leather product with laser engraving to add a name, star sign, initials or an emblem.
Vintage and rusted shades of leather are among the most beautiful and popular colors. There are also products made with leather types that sport a natural tone that roughens up over time such as the top grain or full-grain varieties. For more information, visit jildcraft.ae/collections-all or check Instagram @jildcraft.ae