Saudi and international artists explore the nature of identity in Riyadh show

Piyarat Piyapongwiwat, Fabric, 2017, HD video, 19 mins. (Here, Now / هنا، الآن , October 3, 2021 – January 31, 2022, miskartinstitute.org)
Piyarat Piyapongwiwat, Fabric, 2017, HD video, 19 mins. (Here, Now / هنا، الآن , October 3, 2021 – January 31, 2022. (Courtesy of the artist and Misk Art Institute)
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Updated 05 October 2021

Saudi and international artists explore the nature of identity in Riyadh show

Piyarat Piyapongwiwat, Fabric, 2017, HD video, 19 mins. (Here, Now / هنا، الآن , October 3, 2021 – January 31, 2022, miskartinstitute.org)

DUBAI: A large woven installation echoes the shapes of palm trees viewed while lying down on the ground. “Palm,” placed in Prince Faisal bin Fahd Arts Hall in Riyadh for Misk Art Week’s exhibition “Here, Now,” was created by American contemporary artist Sheila Hicks. It was originally conceived in Riyadh’s King Saud University, where Hicks set up an art program in the 1980s.

Hicks recalls the pleasurable moment of lying down, looking up at a palm tree and seeing a mass of leaves spanning out above her. The joy of looking at the parallel reality created by its leaves became the basis of Hick’s tapestry “The Palm Tree” (1984-85), made in wool, cotton, rayon, silk, and linen. The piece on view in Riyadh follows centuries-old weaving methods established at the Aubusson workshops in France and presents the artist’s ability to translate a personal, intimate moment into the physical and public realm with grace and ease.




Sheila Hicks, Palm, 1985, wool, weave tapestry, 358.1 x 281.9 cm. (Here, Now / هنا، الآن , October 3, 2021 – January 31, 2022. (Courtesy of the artist and Misk Art Institute)

“During my time in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s,” Hicks said, “on a field trip with various architects involved in designing King Saud University, I looked up to the sky and was struck by the splendor and size of the palm tree that was protecting and shading us. ‘Palm,’ the tapestry on show as part of ‘Here, Now,’ is inspired by this specific palm tree.”

The original work is hanging in the main auditorium of the King Saud University in Riyadh. Other versions of the work are in several international collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Hicks’ dreamy work, recalling the beauty of Saudi Arabia’s desert landscape, is one of several pieces by Saudi and international artists in the show responding to notions of individual and collective identity and how these respond to society, as well as to a particular space or place, be it public or private. Curated by British writer Sacha Craddock in collaboration with Misk’s assistant curators Alia Ahmad Al-Saud and Nora Algosaibi, the exhibition also features paintings, textiles, sculptures, digital works and immersive installations by Saudi artists Filwa Nazer, Manal AlDowayan, Yousef Jaha and Sami Ali AlHossein, the Saudi-Palestinian Ayman Yossri Daydban, Piyarat Piyapongwiwat from Thailand, Salah ElMur from Sudan, Vasudevan Akkitham from India and the South Korean Young In Hong.




Young in Hong, Flower Drawing (Columbia Road, London), 2009, embroidery on cotton, 116 x 89x3 cm. (Courtesy of the artist and Misk Art Institute)

“I hope that the exceptionally fluid and open process that brought ‘Here, Now’ together is mirrored by the experience of the audience,” said Sacha Craddock. “Layers of curatorial knowledge and familiarity, on my part, have merged with totally new influences, innovations and traditions to produce a sense of perpetual discovery for all.”

“I Am Here,” a large-scale piece by Manal AlDowayan, encourages visitors to participate in the work. Paint and stencils are offered so that viewers can themselves write the artwork’s title — I Am Here — on one of the gallery’s walls. Over time, the painted words gradually disappear under new words, offering a visual commentary on the delicate relationship between the individual and the collective, as well as the ephemeral nature of time and existence.

The interactive maze-like sculpture by Saudi-Palestinian artist Ayman Yossri Daydban entitled “Tree House” (2019) is a large-scale work positioned against several walls. It seeks to deconstruct archetypal narratives related to cultural heritage and identity, as well as the Middle East’s historical relation to Western colonial powers, through its multitude of cut-out forms, Daydban’s thought-provoking work stems from the subjective nature of words and language. The artist believes that even after the function and meaning of an object moves on, its material base — in essence its core form — remains.




Filwa Nazer, The Other Is Another Body 2, 2019, polyethylene industrial netting and cotton, 292 x 83 x 240 cm. (Courtesy of the artist and Misk Art Institute)

An installation work by Filwa Nazer, another Saudi artist, entitled “The Other Is Another Body,” which was commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation in 2019, features a pair of sculptures covered in black netting that, according to Nazer, “evoke a female presence and embody the spirit of the in-between in its various contradictions.” She intends the sculptures to be “at once vulnerable and strong, abstract and concrete, protected and exposed, connected yet separated.” Nazer’s intent was to show sculptures in “the state of becoming in all its fragility and awkwardness.”

Nazer’s work, which ranges in medium from digital print to collage, textile, and photography, addresses question of emotional identity regarding social and spatial context.

“My work relates to my emotional or psychological interaction with my themes and concepts,” she said. “Research is an integral component of my artistic practice: reading, field research, collecting material and stories. My lines of inquiry always stem from a desire to question things. Through my research, previously unseen connections between various elements start emerging, and then begins the process of experimental creation.”

The diversity of the works on show is further exemplified in paintings by Saudi artist AlHossein and the Sudanese ElMur. The former’s abstract paintings depict the idea of personal memory as a landscape while ElMur’s at once endearing and profound works on canvas depict subjects confused by reality as we know it and a new three-dimensional space — perhaps the influence of today’s rapidly expanding technological realm.

As the works in “Here, Now” demonstrate, the spaces occupied by the personal and the public are subjective—at the whims of one’s perception, dictated by their own personal context and the intention that they apply to the people and spaces they occupy in real-time—in everyday life.

Here, Now / هنا، الآن , October 3, 2021 – January 31, 2022, miskartinstitute.org


Four Arab films submitted for the 2022 Oscars so far

Four Arab films submitted for the 2022 Oscars so far
“Heliopolis” has been selected for the second time to represent Algeria at the prestigious awards. Supplied
Updated 24 October 2021

Four Arab films submitted for the 2022 Oscars so far

Four Arab films submitted for the 2022 Oscars so far

DUBAI: One of the toughest contests at the Oscars is for the honor of Best International Feature Film. Competing with the best movies from all over the world, it is a tremendous accomplishment to be named one of the five films that make it into the final round — and the process starts by a country submitting its official choice, before the organization behind the Academy Awards whittles down the official selection at a later date.  

Four Arab countries have so far submitted their candidates for the Oscars before the 94th Academy Awards take place on March 27, 2022.

They are “Casablanca Beats” by Moroccan filmmaker Nabil Ayouch, Palestinian director Ameer Fakher Eldin’s “The Stranger,” Abdelhamid Bouchnak-directed “Golden Butterfly,” which is Tunisia’s entry, and Algerian director Djafar Gacem’s “Heliopolis.”

“Casablanca Beats” by Moroccan filmmaker Nabil Ayouch. Supplied

A shortlist of 15 finalists will be announced on December 21, with five nominees announced on February 8, 2022.

Meanwhile, "The Gravedigger’s Wife” by Somali-Finnish writer-director Khadar Ayderus has been submitted as Somalia's entry, marking one of many to come from the African continent.

“The Gravedigger’s Wife,” which tells the story of a gravedigger trying to find ways to pay for his sick wife’s treatment, is the first Somali film to be submitted for the Oscars.

“The Gravedigger’s Wife” by Somali-Finnish writer-director Khadar Ayderus. Supplied

As for the Arab submissions so far, Ayouch’s “Casablanca Beats,” which had its world premiere in July, is based on the director’s own childhood experience and was the first fully Moroccan film to compete for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Meanwhile, Eldin’s debut feature is about an unlicensed doctor who encounters a wounded man in the war in Syria. The film won the Edipo Re Award for Inclusion at the Venice Film Festival this year.

“Golden Butterfly” is the Tunisian filmmaker’s third feature.

As for Gacem’s “Heliopolis,” it has been selected for the second time to represent Algeria at the prestigious awards, after its nomination was withdrawn last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. the Algerian drama is based on the real-life events of May 8, 1945, where French colonial forces attacked thousands of Algerians in the city of Guelma (called Heliopolis in ancient times). If “Heliopolis” is selected, it would be Algeria’s first entry since Costa-Gavras’s 1970 film “Z,” which was also the first Arab film to win an Academy Award.

 


Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh

Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh
Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News
Updated 24 October 2021

Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh

Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s inaugural gaming and esports extravaganza, RUSH Festival, is currently underway in Riyadh. The five-day event, which wraps up on Oct. 26 as part of Riyadh Season 2021, is not short on entertainment.

Enjoy games

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

Video game lovers can compete in more than 18 different gaming tournaments, including Tekken 7, Peggy, Overwatch, FIFA 2022, Call of Duty and many more.

Dress up

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

Visitors are encouraged to dress up as their favorite video game or anime characters. Fans of the fictional universe who registered for the cosplay contest will compete for “best costume” and stand to win a grand prize of $18,662.

Shop

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

You can buy a souvenir for yourself or your loved ones from the many pop-up shops dotted throughout the venue.

Eat local

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

If you’re looking to fuel up, there is no shortage of restaurants and cafes to pick and choose from, including local eateries such as Ahal Al-Deera.

Live Music

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

Catch live performances from a lineup of Saudi Arabia-based DJs, including DJ Vegas, DJ Bassel and DJ Memo Max, who will be setting the mood throughout the esports event.

Discover the latest in tech

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

Explore the latest in gaming technology, with hyper-realistic virtual reality games, mobile games and more.


Chloe Bailey shows off courtside style by Osman Yousefzada

Chloe Bailey shows off courtside style by Osman Yousefzada
The singer wore a jumpsuit designed by Osman Yousefzada. Instagram
Updated 24 October 2021

Chloe Bailey shows off courtside style by Osman Yousefzada

Chloe Bailey shows off courtside style by Osman Yousefzada

DUBAI: US singer Chloe Bailey turned Atlanta’s State Farm Arena into her own personal runway this week as she was spotted sitting courtside with rapper Gunna at the Hawks vs. Mavericks basketball game. For the game, the 23-year-old brought her signature style to the arena.

Bailey has a penchant for curve-hugging designs and is often spotted wearing form-fitting dresses, two-pieces and bodysuits on stage, on the red carpet or simply out and about. The game was no different.

Chloe Bailey and Gunna at the Hawks vs. Mavericks basketball game in Atlanta. Getty Images

The hitmaker offered a stylish masterclass on courtside dressing wearing an abstract blue jumpsuit from British-Afghan-Pakistani designer Osman Yousefzada’s Osman Studios, styled by Nikki Cortez. The eye-catching bodysuit was a collaboration with print artist Alex Beattie.  

The British designer who was born to Pakistani and Afghani immigrants has had his tailored pieces worn by the likes of American singers Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift. In addition to his celebrity-loved eponymous label, that launched in 2008, Yousefzada is also known for his multi-disciplinary artwork.

He often combines his love of fashion and art in his garments by collaborating with various artists such as Asif Khan, Celia Hempton, Christodolous Panayiotou and more.

Bailey accessorized the artsy look with a Gucci belt, black heels and hoop earrings. All together, the look was ready for a red carpet or fashion show appearance.

The singer wore a jumpsuit designed by Osman Yousefzada. Instagram   

The “Have Mercy” singer was also seen in the outfit earlier in the day when she greeted fans outside an appearance at Spelman College.

“I was so happy to speak with you beautiful ladies,” she wrote on Twitter.

Bailey’s courtside appearance with Gunna had fans wondering whether a romance or a possible collaboration is in the works.

The duo, who were sitting side-by-side, were put up on the Jumbotron and eventually their rumored romance became a trending topic on social media.

Ahead of their courtside appearance together, the “Drip Too Hard” rapper previously took to his Instagram to gush over Bailey, reposting her performance of “Have Mercy” at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Neither Bailey or Gunna have commented on the rumors. 


Kingdom’s pavilion at Expo 2020 brings together industry experts for first Saudi Salon

Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai . (Farah Heiba/ Arab News)
Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai . (Farah Heiba/ Arab News)
Updated 24 October 2021

Kingdom’s pavilion at Expo 2020 brings together industry experts for first Saudi Salon

Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai . (Farah Heiba/ Arab News)

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai brought together creative experts for the first session of the “Saudi Salon” late last week.

Organizers brought together a panel of experts on Thursday to discuss the role of creative industries in facilitating cultural transformation.

The discussion was held in the Palm Garden inside the Kingdom’s pavilion and moderated by Yasser Al-Saqqaf. Participants included Robert Frith from the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), Francesca Hegyi from the Edinburgh International Festival, Sarah Al-Omran, deputy director of Art Jameel, Nora Al-Dabal from the Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate and Robert Bock, a representative of the MDLBEAST festival in the Kingdom.

At the beginning of the session, Frith discussed the role that creative industries play in changing societies. He said that Ithra has managed to have a positive impact on Saudi society since its inauguration in 2016 and has also succeeded in adapting to changes around it

For her part, Hegyi emphasized that culture and creativity are the mirror of society and therefore they play an important role in facilitating change in societies in general. She added: “I think this indicates the type of change that can be brought out within societies. For this change to happen, they need to ratify a set of special policies and laws that can speed up the process.”

As for Al-Dabal, she reviewed the experience of AlUla Governorate, saying: “We are all aware of the deep history that AlUla holds and the different civilizations and cultures it has witnessed throughout history. I believe that the qualitative leap that this historical site is currently witnessing shows the impact of the creative industries and their ability to change a society. She also noted the importance of partnerships in creative industries, saying: “Such partnerships are important, as they work to stimulate cooperation on one hand and on the other, contribute to deepening the effects that creative industries have on society”.

Bock, meanwhile, stressed “the power of creative industries and their ability to sharpen the human mind,” saying: “We cannot deny that the Kingdom has witnessed, in recent years, a qualitative leap in the cultural sector, which allowed the creative industries to develop faster and stronger. This created new platforms and partnerships allowing creative talents to reach out to the community and introduce themselves to it.”


‘Feathers’: Award-winning Egyptian film is dark and brilliant

The film won the Best Arab Narrative Film trophy at the El Gouna Film Festival. (Supplied)
The film won the Best Arab Narrative Film trophy at the El Gouna Film Festival. (Supplied)
Updated 24 October 2021

‘Feathers’: Award-winning Egyptian film is dark and brilliant

The film won the Best Arab Narrative Film trophy at the El Gouna Film Festival. (Supplied)

CHENNAI: Omar El-Zohairy’s debut Egyptian work, “Feathers,” was both lauded and lambasted. Despite its big win at Cannes Critics Week with a Grand Prize and the Best Arab Narrative Film trophy at the recent El Gouna Film Festival, it was viewed as offensive to the country by some. Some Egyptian directors and actors, including Sherif Mounir, Ahmed Rizk and Ashraf Abdel Baqi, walked out of the screening last week, claiming it portrayed Egypt in a negative light.  

Be that as it may, “Feathers” is an absurdist drama that presents a disturbing cocktail of magic, mystery and madness, weaving its plot through acutely sparse frames. A story of a meek wife (Demyana Nassar) and a horridly domineering husband (Samy Bassiouny) with three very young children, she is portrayed as subdued and slavish.

Listless to the point of looking terribly unhappy, she faintly sparkles when he decides to organize a magic show to celebrate his son’s fourth birthday. It ends in a disaster when the magician turns the husband into a chicken, but fails to transform him back to his original self. The wife is left with a bird that she feeds and nurses. It is only after her back-breaking search to find the magician, all the while struggling to earn a pittance to buy food for her family, that the director lets us into a horrible truth and its repercussions. 

Similar to somber, straight-faced Finnish helmer Aki Kaurismaki’s work, “Feathers” is shot in greys and dull lighting. The tonal mix establishes the stark reality of a woman who eventually graduates from utter passivity to surprising dominance. The drab looking buildings, the exposed pipelines and the family’s bare and dingy home, filmed with incisive camerawork by Kamal Samy, add to the sheer helplessness of the wife. But the script is engrossing, with a narrative that is dark, hiding an unbelievable piece of information, which when it comes will throw you off guard. 

The movie works as a brutal look at patriarchy, though this is handled with admirable restraint in the screenplay, co-written by El-Zohairy and Ahmed Amer. With the woman’s attitude changing so subtly, the drama underplays the climax. It is not really about revenge but about discovering one’s self-respect.