Waiting to fly: Palestinian artists Nisreen, Nermeen Abudail on their ‘nostalgia for unlived moments’

Waiting to fly: Palestinian artists Nisreen, Nermeen Abudail on their ‘nostalgia for unlived moments’
Wa Mashat, 2020. (Supplied)
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Updated 07 October 2021

Waiting to fly: Palestinian artists Nisreen, Nermeen Abudail on their ‘nostalgia for unlived moments’

Waiting to fly: Palestinian artists Nisreen, Nermeen Abudail on their ‘nostalgia for unlived moments’

LONDON: A woman strides purposefully through a field of golden wheat. She exudes confidence and joy. Her richly embroidered gown and distinctive Smadeh (headpiece) identify her as coming from Gaza, Palestine. She carries a basket of gifts including the famed grapes from her region.

Who is she and where is she going? Those are the first questions that come to mind when viewing “Wa Mashat” by artists and sisters Nisreen and Nermeen Abudail, co-founders of Naqsh Collective.

“She is supposed to be going from Gaza to Amman, Jordan,” Nisreen tells Arab News. “The trip should take no more than a couple of hours walking. But with what is happening right now in Gaza with the sanctions and all the difficulties that Gazan people are experiencing, the trip is impossible.  It is impossible even to think about crossing borders from Gaza to Amman. Living in Gaza is agony because of the situation.”




Sisters Nisreen and Nermeen Abudail are the co-founders of Naqsh Collective. (Supplied)

The sisters say that, as second-generation refugees from Palestine, they sometimes see themselves in the image of the Gazan woman.

“We embody this lady from time to time through our Naqsh journey. This journey is peaceful, joyful and full of determination and pride. She is determined to push though all the obstacles, carrying her basket of goods on her head out of the Gazan siege, to share them with the world,” says Nermeen.

Nermeen indicates the little bird perched in the bottom-right of the image.




“The Bride’s Carpet” is currently on show as part of the Naqsh Collective’s “Unlived Moments” exhibition at the Gazelli Art House in London. (Supplied)

“The sunbird — which is the national bird of Palestine — is symbolic of waiting and hope; it is an icon of freedom. It is not flying, but sitting and waiting for the woman,” she explains.

Nisreen studied architecture at Jordan University of Science and Technology. After working for a time in the US, she is now based in Jordan. Her younger sister, Nermeen, currently based in Dubai, studied graphics.

They are particularly inspired by the intricate embroidery (tatreez), which, for many Palestinian women over the centuries, has been a powerful way of communicating important information about themselves — including their hometown and their marital or financial status. Passed from mother to daughter, this silent language stitched meticulously on their garments speaks volumes.




“Unit and Diaspora” is an open-air, 180-piece exhibit. (Supplied)

Nisreen and Nermeen have taken the delicate silk threads and reimagined them in unexpected, contemporary forms using wood, metals, stone and marble.

The intricate work “The Bride’s Carpet,” currently on show as part of the Naqsh Collective’s “Unlived Moments” exhibition at the Gazelli Art House in London, is a good example.

It tells the fictional story of a mother who gifted her daughter a hand-woven carpet for her wedding. Fearing that Israeli forces would break into her house and steal the precious gift, the mother buried it in her garden.

The story of hurriedly burying precious family treasures would be familiar to many of the 700,000 Palestinian Arabs forced to flee their homes in 1948 when Israeli forces stormed through their towns and villages. Echoes of this traumatic past came vividly alive for Nisreen and Nermeen when they discovered a carpet buried in a garden.

“The Bride’s Carpet,” made up of hundreds of pieces of volcanic basalt stone, is engraved with stitch patterns from all over Palestine and presented as partly buried under shavings of upcycled brass. Details in the work include the bride as the moon and the scene where she faces her mother-in-law, represented by two peacocks.

“We wanted to shed light on stories from our heritage and people suffering from the occupation,” explains Nermeen. “Many families buried their belongings next to a well, or a fig or olive tree, intending to retrieve them upon their return.”

The main theme of “Unlived Moments” is a thread that runs through their work. You see it in pieces such as “Akka,” which shows Palestinian youths standing at the edge of Akka’s famous wall in the old harbour preparing to leap into the Mediterranean waters below — a rite of passage marking the transition from boyhood to manhood. For the young Palestinian boys of the diaspora this is a moment they only get to live through stories told by their grandfathers.

“We are nostalgic about living unlived moments that we have never experienced,” Nermeen says. “We are celebrating at the same time as shedding light on the challenging and even unliveable circumstances experienced by the people of Gaza on an everyday basis.”

Another powerful story is told through their installation “Unit and Diaspora” (WihdehWaShatat). This open-air, 180-piece exhibit captures the relationship of the Palestine people with the passage of time.




“Unit and Diaspora” captures the relationship of the Palestine people with the passage of time. (Supplied)

In it, a series of sundials indicate eight key locations of the Palestinian diaspora; Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, the UK, the US, Chile, Libya and Kuwait.  The dials are made of limestone and the gnomons (the part of a sundial that casts a shadow) of brass.

“The sundials are made of local stone which is strong but can get chipped or eroded if moved from one place to another,” Nisreen says. “It can get distorted and damaged, just like refugees who can be scarred forever when they are relocated. The brass piece, which incorporates elements of Palestinian embroidery, symbolizes cultural heritage; brass represents durability, richness and an everlasting effect that won’t fade but grows deeper and richer with time.

“The minute the sun hits the gnomon we get the reflection on the stone,” she continues. “This reflection adds value to the place where the sundial is located, which is exactly the effect Palestinian refugees have on the places they move to. They add value to everywhere by reflecting their culture.”

The installation will be placed on the roof of the new Naqsh studio opening next year just over the border from Palestine, the sisters say.

“The new location will be called Naqsh Experience. People can come and visit the studio and see thobes and art, and connect to nature and with the whole aura of the Palestinian story,” Nermeen says.

The sisters say they want their exiled and trapped compatriots to spread their wings and “fly free,” like the bird patiently waiting in the field of golden Gazan wheat.

“We are always waiting for a solution to go back to our land — waiting for stability and better life chances,” Nisreen says. “I remember my grandparents used to wait for the news around 8 p.m. every day to update themselves about the political situation — the peace treaties, the conferences. They are still waiting to go back. Until now Palestinians all over the world are still waiting.”


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 1 min 9 sec ago

Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh

Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh

DUBAI: 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.


Megan Fox can’t get enough of Lebanese label Andrea Wazen

Megan Fox can’t get enough of Lebanese label Andrea Wazen
Megan Fox rose to prominence for her role in ‘Transformers.’ Instagram
Updated 23 October 2021

Megan Fox can’t get enough of Lebanese label Andrea Wazen

Megan Fox can’t get enough of Lebanese label Andrea Wazen

DUBAI: It seems that Megan Fox cannot get enough of Lebanese footwear label Andrea Wazen. The 35-year-old actress is often photographed wearing the Beirut-based designer’s creations, including this week when she stepped out for an off-duty stroll in Los Angeles championing the brand’s Denver pumps in black.

The “Transformers” star elevated her mesh sandals with a faux leather cropped blazer and boyfriend jeans from her recently-launched collection with fast-fashion retailer Boohoo, paired with a bright blue JW Pei handbag.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Maeve Reilly (@stylememaeve)

Last month, the star wore Wazen’s heels to the REVOLVE Gallery Private Event in New York City.

Fox opted for a pair of clear pointed-toe heels with gold-strap detailing, called the Dassy Sunset PVC Pumps.

She matched her heels with a sporty pale yellow jacket and matching flared pants.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Megan Fox (@meganfox)

Also in recent weeks, Fox shared photos on Instagram wearing a pair of transparent shoes designed by Wazen that featured green criss-cross detailing.

Meanwhile in July, the star championed the designer’s lace-up Mandaloun heels in blue.

Fox isn’t the only celebrity fan of the Lebanese label, however.

In fact, Andrea Wazen is shaping up to be the next big footwear brand to watch.

Since launching in 2013, the label’s strappy sandals and stilettos have made their way onto the pedicured toes of A-listers and It-girls across the globe, including Beyonce, Hailey Bieber, Khloe Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and Addison Rae, who have all championed Wazen’s creations.

The London-born designer, who is the younger sister of Lebanese fashion blogger Karen Wazen, launched her eponymous, celebrity-approved label in Beirut following stints with some of the most renowned footwear designers in the world, including Christian Louboutin and Rupert Sanderson.

After picking up leading shoe magazine Footwear News’s prestigious Emerging Talents Award and being named Accessories Designer of the Year by Fashion Trust Arabia last year, Wazen joins a lineup of inimitable Arab female footwear designers who have seen both critical and commercial success with their brands, including Jordanian-Romanian Amina Muaddi, Kuwaiti designer Najeeba Hayat of Liudmila and Lebanese-Australian Katrine Hanna.