DUBAI: French-Tunisian artist eL Seed has unveiled another ambitious work — this time in Nepal’s Giranchaur village.
The artist — who is famous for championing the art of “calligraffiti,” a mixture of Arabic calligraphy and graffiti — took to Instagram to show off his latest large-scale work titled “Like Her,” that stretches 170 meters covering rooftops in the small village.
“In 2015 an earthquake rocked Nepal, destroying hundreds of homes and tearing many families apart. As the country began to build itself back up again women took a leading role in the reconstruction of the society around them. In Giranchour, a small village three hours away from Kathmandu, some women got trained in construction work, when others learned how to produce their own earthquake resistant bricks,” the artist explained on Instagram.
“In this new project, I explore the topic of women empowerment by bringing light to the stories of admirable women. During four weeks, I worked with a team of 12 women who helped me create a giant art installation that spread all around the village connecting each house to another, linking each women’s story to the other,” he added.
The installation features the words of Yogmaya Neupane (1867-1941) one of the first female activists of Nepal.
“There is nothing between us, nothing at all. Your eyes have tears, just like my own,” the words read.
“I believe artists have a great social responsibility to inspire, ignite and implement change. ‘Like Her’ intends to raise up the women in this remote community that was devastated by the 2015 earthquake, and bring to light issues facing these women, and women all over the world, while sharing their beautiful stories of wisdom, strength and resilience,” eL Seed said.
A video documenting the project is on show at the Women’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
The artist is no stranger to large scale works, and previously painted the faced of 50 houses in Cairo in a piece titled “Perception.” He also painted the façade of Paris’s Pont des Arts bridge, replacing the famous love locks that adorned the crossing, in a previous piece.
DUBAI: Friends and fans flooded US-Iraqi beauty mogul Mona Kattan’s Instagram account on Saturday, after the Huda Beauty global president announced her engagement to Dubai-based businessman Hassan El-Amin.
“Forever Ever,” Kattan captioned a carousel of images posted late on Friday night, showing the Kayali fragrance founder posing with a diamond ring on her finger and alongside her soon-to-be husband.
Influencers, beauty entrepreneurs and celebrities took to Kattan’s comments section to send their well wishes.
“Congrats baby, (you) deserve the world,” doctor and influencer Sarah Al-Madani commented, while Faryal Makhdoom, wife of British boxing star Amir Khan, wrote “congrats cutie.”
According to El-Amin’s LinkedIn account, he is the head of facultative at Middle East and Africa at Aon Reinsurance Solutions and relocated to Dubai after studying at Cass Business School in London and graduating with a Masters of Science.
It seems Kattan’s new fiancé is as family-focused as she is — he even runs an Instagram account together with his two siblings called @the.elamins.
The siblings feature heavily in the carousel of images shared by Kattan, with snaps including both Sally and Ahmed El-Amin.
With a background in graphic design and illustrating, Sally boasts a portfolio of clients that includes Huda Beauty, leading some to speculate that she could be the link between the loved-up couple.
The good news tops off a busy year for Kattan, who, alongside her sister Huda, announced a number of new investments and initiatives in 2021.
In the summer, the sister duo announced Ketish as the first brand to be launched by Huda Beauty Angels — which falls under HB Investments, their venture capital firm. Ketish, a feminine care label, is spearheaded by Eman Abbass, a former Huda Beauty product developer.
Since then, Mona has focused heavily on the sisters’ fragrance range, Kayali, of which she is the founder and creative head.
The latest Kayali product was launched this week and is called Eden Juicy Apple — a “playful, vibrant and super juicy” scent that is based on “crisp and juicy red apples, sweet berries and fresh floral notes,” according to the brand.
In October, Kayali won the coveted Niche Product of the Year prize at the Beautyworld Middle East Awards for its Sweet Diamond Pink Pepper fragrance.
What We Are Reading Today: The Government of Emergency
Updated 04 December 2021
Authors: Stephen J. Collier & Andrew Lakoff
From pandemic disease, to the disasters associated with global warming, to cyberattacks, today we face an increasing array of catastrophic threats. It is striking that, despite the diversity of these threats, experts and officials approach them in common terms — as future events that threaten to disrupt the vital, vulnerable systems upon which modern life depends.
The Government of Emergency tells the story of how this now taken-for-granted way of understanding and managing emergencies arose. Amid the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War, an array of experts and officials working in obscure government offices developed a new understanding of the nation as a complex of vital, vulnerable systems. They invented technical and administrative devices to mitigate the nation’s vulnerability, and organized a distinctive form of emergency government that would make it possible to prepare for and manage potentially catastrophic events.
Misk Art Week showcases artists from Saudi Arabia and international community
For its fifth year, Misk Art Institute’s annual event features several exhibitions exploring the nature of identity
Updated 03 December 2021
Rebecca Anne Proctor
RIYADH: Inside Riyadh’s Prince Faisal bin Fahd Arts Hall, multimedia artworks are displayed across the venue’s two floors on the theme of Takween, which means “form” in Arabic, and its relation to one’s identity.
As part of Misk Art Week’s fifth outing, taking place until Dec. 5, artists from Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, North Africa and the wider international community present art that questions identity — specifically how an individual’s social, historical and cultural origins influence their past, present and future.
From video works produced with AI to paintings, textile-based art and installations, the art on show aims, according to the Misk Art Institute, to offer a “critical platform for the creative community,” fostering cultural dialogue and intellectual exchange.
As visitors enter the hall, they are confronted by two dark figures by Saudi artist Filwa Nazer, made of black polyethylene industrial netting and titled The Other is Another Body (2021). The figures seem to guard the vibrantly colored wool-weave tapestry work hanging on a wall between them, titled Palm (1985), by American artist Sheila Hicks.
The works are part of Here, Now, the third in a series of the Misk Art Institute’s annual flagship exhibition, curated this time by British writer and curator Sacha Craddock alongside Misk’s assistant curators, Nora Algosaibi and Alia Ahmad Al-Saud.
The show, which features a mix of emerging and established artists and runs until Jan. 30, 2022, is the first in the Saudi capital to present works by both Saudi and international artists, including ones by well-known Saudi artists such as Manal Al-Dowayan’s abstract black and white work, I am Here (2016), Ayman Yossri Daydban’s Tree House (2019), and Sami Ali AlHossein’s colorful abstract figurative works on canvas. There is also a painting by renowned Sudanese painter Salah Elmur titled The Angry Singer (2015) and delicate floral drawings by Korean artist Young In Hong dating to 2009.
While without an overarching narrative, the show prompts the spectator to question, like the exhibition’s title, “why here and why now?” It encourages the visitor to reflect on the artworks and the nature of identity in a reflective, personal and subjective manner.
Upstairs is Under Construction, an exhibition of Misk Art Grant recipients who hail this year from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Algeria. The grant funds up to SR1 million ($266,632) and has been distributed among the nine participating artists and collectives.
Basma Al-Shathry, lead curator at Misk Art Institute, said: “This year’s Misk Art Grant exhibition, ‘Under Construction,’ explores how identity is perceived as an emblem of growth, continuity and endless iterations of cultural representation throughout history. It has been a delight to bring together artists and designers from both the Middle East and North Africa to address the theme as a process of development, repetition, distortion and incompleteness in a time of synthesis, understanding and promise for the future.”
The works on show also respond to the theme of identity while focusing on how identity can be perceived as a method for growth and renewal, as well as social and historical continuity, via the incorporation of cultural representations throughout history.
One of the most poignant works is by Emirati artist and designer Latifa Saeed’s Sand Room (2021), which presents an assembly of sand-encased glass panels in the form of a cube that one can enter to observe the desert sand sediments that she collected from construction sites around Dubai.
“My research and work is always about transformation, whether it be of a city or of one’s mentality,” Saeed told Arab News. “I began by building an archive of sand from Dubai because the sites from where I collected the sand we cannot visit anymore because they are now construction sites.
Saeed visited development sites in Dubai, and before the construction started she would collect sand from the area and label it accordingly. She now has more than 200 different types of sand from these areas.
“I am archiving, preserving and documenting the Dubai landscape, topography and the material itself,” she said.
Near to Saeed’s mesmerizing room of sand specimens is Emirati artist Afra Al-Dhaheri’s End of a School Braid (2021) — a large installation of twisted and backcombed off-white colored rope that hangs from the ceiling. In this piece Al-Dhaheri examines how hair can be seen as the keeper of memories, preserving not only time but cultural norms and heritage.
Bahraini artist Noor Alwan’s Sacred Spaces (2021), a series of hanging textile-based tapestry works, similarly seeks to preserve personal and collective memories. Growing up, she would watch her grandfather ritually draw hundreds of patterns on paper — a tradition that stemmed from his childhood and that immersed him in a meditative process of repetition. Alwan recalls his trance-like process of art creation and likens it to a shared Arab collective practice — with elements mirroring the mesmerizing geometric forms of Islamic art.
Moving into the rapidly developing digital landscape is an engaging work by Saudi artist Obaid Alsafi, titled Beyond Language (2021), in which a poem by the late revered Saudi poet Muhammad Al-Thubaiti Poetry (1952-2011), titled Salutation to the Master of the Arid Land, is transformed into a video work with sound via artificial intelligence. For the work, which captivates the viewer through its colorful abstract images — some seem like palm trees while others appear to be figures — Alsafi trained the AI through data collection and machine learning to understand poetry and produce visual representations of each verse with accompanying machine-made sound.
“The first form of art in the region and the way we connected with each other was through poetry,” Alsafi, an artist who studied computer science, told Arab News. “Al-Thubaiti, one of Saudi’s pioneer poets, changed the way that poetry was written and read. Everyone sees AI as robotic, but my vision, I want to see how we can make the machine more human so that it understands language, learn and develop artwork depending on the vision of the artist. I believe artists can use AI as a tool to develop their work.”
Lastly, there is the second iteration of works created in the Masaha residency program, located in the basement of the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Arts Hall.
The program, part of Misk Art Institute’s mission to support Saudi and international practitioners across the artistic disciplines in the research and production of new works via mentorship opportunities, can be viewed on the ground floor. Titled HOME: Being and Belonging, the works by 10 visual artists from the UK, Guatemala, Morocco, India, South Korea, and from across Saudi Arabia, examine questions of how an individual and collective sense of belonging and nostalgia for one’s culture and heritage stems from one’s socio-cultural and ethnic background. The works on show explore how our sense of belonging changes and transforms with time.
The residency offers international artists the opportunity to create work on site at Masaha over a three-month cycle. Many of the participating artists are showing their work for the first time in the Kingdom — demonstrating once again Misk Art Institute’s broader aims to expand Saudi Arabia’s cultural landscape through international creative dialogue.
UAE-founded sustainable brand The Giving Movement gets charitable
Updated 03 December 2021
DUBAI: In the regional fashion industry, a handful of brands and organizations have been putting forth new initiatives that aim to give back to the community. Notably, The Giving Movement, an athleisure brand founded by Dominic Nowell-Barnes in Dubai in 2020, donates $4 of each sale to charity.
Since its inception, the sustainable label has quickly gone on to become a staple in the wardrobes of social media influencers across the region and was picked up by several e-retailers such as Ounass and Sivvi. But perhaps, its biggest accomplishment to date is raising over $1,000,000 in donations for local charities Dubai Cares and Harmony House India.
“The most important thing when I set out to do this project was just around feeling like we’ve done something good for the world,” Nowell-Barnes told Arab News.
“So when I started The Giving Movement, it was all about trying to find fulfillment and to feel that maybe in five, 10 years, when I looked back at where I’ve put my time and energy, it’s had a positive impact.”
The designer’s goal was to partner with charities that look after the basic needs of the less-fortunate, which is why he chose to partner with Dubai Cares and Harmony House India.
“Dubai Cares is predominantly focused on education, so the idea is that if you can educate people then they have the ability to get jobs and make a better future for themselves, as opposed to maybe just giving them a meal here or there. And then with Harmony House, they focus on the kind of immediate needs of providing food and shelter, and then ultimately education,” explains the designer.
The concept of giving back is very important and personal to Nowell-Barnes.
“Growing up in the north of England, I got to see very different types of lives. You can be walking down one street and there will be a guy driving a Ferrari, and the next minute you can be walking down a street where there’s people living on the sidewalk. This was my earliest recollection of feeling like life can be unfair to people,” he reflects.
“Therefore, I chose these charities because there are people who have just been dealt a bad hand so I want to spend the rest of my life supporting these people,” he added.
Harmony House currently looks after 700 disadvantaged children. The money raised by The Giving Movement will help provide food and shelter for these kids, in addition to providing the materials required to educate children with Dubai Cares.
Nowell-Barnes launched his genderless label in April 2020, after slowly losing interest in his 9-5 e-commerce job.
Despite launching in the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic — during the lockdown in Dubai when residents needed a police permit to leave their homes to go grocery shopping or run errands — the made-in-UAE brand was met with immediate success, which Nowell-Barnes attributes to people wearing activewear and loungewear more than ever as they were going out less and spending more time indoors.
In addition to its charitable aspect, the brand is sustainable too.
The Giving Movement only utilizes fabric that is either certified recycled or organic as well as low-impact dyes. Eventually, the brand wants to move into circularity by launching some sort of initiative to collect garments from customers once they have used them and rather than them throwing them away, the brand can send them to be recycled or reused.
“I want to make sure that what I am doing is not only good for other people, but also good for the planet,” concludes Nowell-Barnes.
Review: Halle Berry’s ‘Bruised’ walks to a familiar beat
Updated 03 December 2021
LONDON: For her directorial debut, Oscar winner Halle Berry throws herself wholeheartedly into the role of Jackie ‘Pretty Bull’ Justice — a former UFC fighter who left the sport in disgrace and now scratches a living as a cleaner in ramshackle Newark, careening from one drink to the next and arguing with her manager-turned-boyfriend Desi who wants her to get back in the ring.
When Desi tricks Jackie into attending an underground fight night, she catches the eye of local promoter Immaculate, who offers her a comeback fight and sets her up with his head trainer, Buddhakan. Oh, and on the way home, Jackie’s estranged mother shows up with Manny, the son Jackie left when he was an infant, now returned to her after his father was killed in a shooting. As the pressure at home ratchets up, Jackie throws herself into training, battling not only her opponents in the ring but, it turns out, her inner demons too.
It’s a metaphor, see? And it’s not the only time that Berry’s movie is a little heavy handed with its use of tried-and-tested symbolism. “Bruised” is, in fact, the latest movie in the “Rocky” franchise in everything but name. Seemingly unaware that audiences may have seen other fighting films, Berry shamelessly mines the genre for every bloody cliché and underdog trope going, mashing them all together into a movie that is perfectly serviceable — it’s competently directed, and nobody can doubt Berry’s commitment to the role — if extremely familiar.
Berry’s co-stars — Shamier Anderson, Adan Canto and British actor Sheila Atim — all get the time to flex their creative muscles and there is some enjoyment to be found in this female-led story of hard-won redemption. But the film is dominated by such a feeling of déjà vu that it becomes overpowering. Every story beat is predictable, and even the brutal climax feels a little by-the-numbers. “Bruised” is a decent movie, but it’s a decent movie the audience will almost certainly have seen before.