Past and future meet in UAE-based trio’s ‘Beyond: Emerging Artists’ display

Past and future meet in UAE-based trio’s ‘Beyond: Emerging Artists’ display
“Beyond: Emerging Artists,” a section of the now-wrapped up Abu Dhabi Art fair features work by Hashel Al-Lamki.. Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art
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Updated 28 November 2021

Past and future meet in UAE-based trio’s ‘Beyond: Emerging Artists’ display

Past and future meet in UAE-based trio’s ‘Beyond: Emerging Artists’ display

DUBAI: A woman dressed in black with a light blue colored sack over her head moves gracefully amidst a dark forest — she holds in either hand a branch with white feathers. The video work, executed in 2021 and titled “Too Close to the Sun,” is by Emirati artist Maitha Abdalla and it is on display in “Beyond: Emerging Artists,” which wraps up on Dec. 4 in Abu Dhabi’s Manarat Al-Saadiyat.

The exhibition kicked off as part of the wider Abu Dhabi Art fair that ended Nov. 21. Curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, “Beyond: Emerging Artists” explores the challenges of the future and painful reminders of the past while highlighting three UAE-based artists.

Alongside Abdalla's showcase are rooms featuring work by Emirati Hashel Al-Lamki and American Christopher Benton, who is based in Dubai.




A view of the room of Emirati artist Maitha Abdallah in Beyond: Emerging Artists, a section at this year's now concluded Abu Dhabi Art fair running until Dec. 4th. Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art
 

Bardaouil and Fellrath told Arab News that the three artists’ strong links with Abu Dhabi allowed them to examine the city’s history and diversity, as well as its challenges and opportunities.

“Throughout our curatorial practice we have always been closely connected to the art scene in the Gulf region, and to the UAE in particular,” Bardaouil and Fellrath told Arab News. “Each of the three artists are either from Abu Dhabi or have been based here for a very long time. It was important to us that there is a strong connection to the city the works are exhibited in, to its history and diversity, as well as to its challenges and opportunities.”

The artists rely on media ranging from painting to sculpture, soundscapes, video works, found objects and site-specific installations.

The core focus of the program is on mentorship. Its aims thus venture outside the traditional role of a curator. “We wanted to work with artists where we felt we could contribute to the development of their practice,” said Bardaouil and Fellrath. “It was important to us to give each artist their own distinct voice and offer them the freedom and support to develop a project that they already had on their mind. Each of the three artists pushed their initial ideas to create truly immersive installations that are made up of different individual components.”

Abdalla’s commissions are part of a series of works that “negotiates the wild nature of women that social forces have often attempted to tame,” according to the artist.

In her room, Abdalla recreated US psychoanalyst Pinkola’s “wild creature” through her immersive installation. The visitor walks into an immersive space with a window that looks outdoors where there is a video of a performance where the performer, Abdalla, is attempting different poses of Pinkola’s “wild woman.”

“In my work, I am interested in storytelling and folk tales, and for this exhibition I was inspired by the book ‘Women Who Run with the Wolves,’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, an American psychoanalyst. She talks about how in every woman there is a wild creature and that this creature is powerful. She calls it wild woman and says this creature is an endangered species,” Abdalla said.

“Maitha’s work is amazing—from performances that revolve around notions of female wildness (characterized by a quasi-mythological woman, Sila) to sculptures and paintings that provoke thought and discussion around what’s considered right and wrong behavior and thought in communities,” Fair Director Dyala Nusseibeh told Arab News. “She reminds me in some ways of Paula Rego in the intensity of her paintings.”

Each room is conceived as an immersive space through which visitors can delve into each artist's work, practice and personal life. The walls and tiles of Abdalla’s room are painted pink, for example, to recall her childhood bathroom. As Nusseibeh says, “the ambitious claiming of each room” by the artists provides a unique portal into their world. 

 


 




Hashem Al-Lamki, Neptune. Courtsey of Abu Dhabi Art

 

Benton’s installation of a chained palm tree also fosters debate around labor economies and the appropriation of Middle Eastern culture in the US.




Christopher Joshua Benton, chained palm tree installation. Courtsey of Abu Dhabi Art

The artist’s film “The Kite Has Come” features archival images of Zanzibar from 1860-1910 — when the world’s last slave market operated in the city — and explores how slave histories in past centuries resonate in today’s world.

What profoundly resonates with the visitor even after they have left the room is how Benton’s work remembers the presence of the East African diaspora in the Gulf and the in-depth thought he has given to slave histories and how their stories over the last few centuries continue in today’s world.

Al-Lamki’s room on the other hand, entirely painted in a mystical soft blue, looks at the rapid pace of transformations shaping the UAE today, particularly evident in the building up of his hometown of Al-Ain.  

The artist, who founded the art group Bait 15 in a residential neighborhood in downtown Abu Dhabi, uses natural pigments collected from regional locations, referencing traditions that are under threat from new technologies and consumerism.

“The extravagance of the glitter and dyes in his paintings alongside the use of batteries, star stickers and popcorn in his sculpture, contribute to a sense of spectacle and futurism, but also a note of wistfulness for what is left behind,” Nusseibeh said.

What is so poignant about the works by each of the artists is that they go beyond of their formal, physical realm as art to tell the stories of their creators and the past and present histories of the world around them.

As an overall exhibition, the three rooms offer immersive solo shows covering each artist’s diverse practices within the context of their shared relationship to the UAE, its past and present histories and rapidly unfolding future.


‘Say Yes to the Dress Arabia’ gets release date

‘Say Yes to the Dress Arabia’ gets release date
Updated 43 sec ago

‘Say Yes to the Dress Arabia’ gets release date

‘Say Yes to the Dress Arabia’ gets release date

DUBAI: The Middle Eastern version of “Say Yes to the Dress” is premiering on Feb. 11 on Starzplay, the streaming service announced on Wednesday. 

The Arab program, which is the 25th spin-off of the popular US series, will feature 20 brides from various cultural backgrounds, ranging in age from 23 to 50, all in search for their dream wedding dress.

The nine-episode show, which is a partnership with US media company Discovery, is hosted by Lebanese celebrity stylist Khalil Zein, who has dressed stars from across the region including Haifa Wehbe, Rahma Riad, Nancy Ajram, Maya Diab and Nadine Nassib Njeim. 

The nine-episode show is hosted by Lebanese celebrity stylist Khalil Zein. (Supplied)

Shot at the Hazar Haute Couture in Dubai, the bridal boutique houses a collection of dresses ranging from $615 to $14,000. 

During a virtual event held on Wednesday, the organizers shared a sneak peak of the show, revealing some of the brides who will be part of the show. 

Among the women spotted is a part-Saudi bride, Sabrin, who appears on the show with her family. 

The series will also feature Egyptian beauty influencer and vitiligo advocate Logina Salah, Dubai-based fitness blogger Amy Fox and Iraqi-Polish radio presenter Eve Jaso. 

Fox and Jaso, who attended the press event, shared some of their favorite highlights from the show. 

The series will also feature Iraqi-Polish radio presenter Eve Jaso. (Supplied)

“(It is) definitely definitely putting the dress that I chose on and just feeling like I can be myself in this dress. It just fitted my whole personality, my whole vibe. I didn’t feel restricted. I felt like I could move . . . It was just the best moment,” Fox said.

For Jaso, her favorite memory of the show was “finding everyone in tears,” she said. “You think that being on a TV show, there is not going to be emotion, there is not going to be feelings, but I walked away from that show feeling like everyone was just crying. It was a shock.”

During the event, Zein expressed his gratitude at being part of the Starzplay original series.

“As everyone knows, your wedding day is one of the most monumental days of your life. So being able to take part in making sure the brides feel their best on their big day really means a lot to me,” he said.  


‘Dubai Hologram Universe’ launches with show dedicated to Egyptian star Abdel Halim Hafez

‘Dubai Hologram Universe’ launches with show dedicated to Egyptian star Abdel Halim Hafez
Updated 27 January 2022

‘Dubai Hologram Universe’ launches with show dedicated to Egyptian star Abdel Halim Hafez

‘Dubai Hologram Universe’ launches with show dedicated to Egyptian star Abdel Halim Hafez

DUBAI: It is never too late to attend a concert by legendary Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez — thanks to hologram technology — and organizers are marking the launch of the “Dubai Hologram Universe” at the Al Habtoor City Theatre with a show dedicated toward the late artist on Jan. 30.

“Dubai Hologram Universe” is a joint venture by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) in collaboration with New Dimension Productions (NDP) and will feature state-of-the-art hologram concerts by legendary singers and musicians twice a week at the Al Habtoor City venue.

The tribute concert, titled “Sawwah,” saw media guests enjoy a hologram of Hafez singing some of his most famous songs. (Supplied)

Arab News attended a press preview that took place earlier this week.  

The tribute concert, titled “Sawwah,” saw media guests enjoy a hologram of Hafez – who died in 1977 aged just 47 – singing some of his most famous songs. 

The 90-minute concert featured six backing vocalists who got a chance to sing alongside the star years after his passing. (Supplied)

With live musicians performing behind Hafez, the show kicked off with the star’s hit “Awel Marra,” which he sang in his 1957 movie “El-Wesada El-Khalya.” 

As ardent fans admired Hafez’s hologram figure, which replicated his body movements and facial expressions, a group of dancers joined the show for an immersive visual experience. 

With live musicians performing behind Hafez, the show kicked off with the star’s hit “Awel Marra.” (Supplied)

One song after the other, the eight performers wowed the audience with contemporary dance moves that hit every beat of Hafez’s music. 

The theater’s various special effects, ranging from water falls to haze, gave a modern twist to the music sensation’s show.  

The 90-minute concert featured six backing vocalists who got a chance to sing alongside the star years after his passing. 

One song after the other, the eight performers wowed the audience with contemporary dance moves that hit every beat of Hafez’s music. (Supplied)

Music fans also watched the celebrated singer, nicknamed the “Nightingale,” perform “Betlomooni Leh,” “Asmar Ya Asmarani,” “Balash Etab,” “Gana El-Hawa,” “Bahebek” and more. 

The show ended with a rendition of “Sawwah,” which he released in 1972.

The theater’s various special effects, ranging from water falls to haze, gave a modern twist to the music sensation’s show. (Supplied)

During his career, Hafez, who was also an actor, conductor, businessman, music teacher and movie producer, appeared in 15 films and produced more than 200 songs.

In 2019, fans of the singer were able to watch a similar light show in Jeddah.

Music fans also watched the celebrated singer perform “Betlomooni Leh,” “Asmar Ya Asmarani” and “Balash Etab.” (Supplied)

He is not the only late star who fans have been able to enjoy on stage. The late Egyptian songstress Umm Kulthum also appeared in 2019 at the Winter at Tantora festival and at the Dubai Opera in 2020. 

“Dubai Hologram Universe,” which, according to organizers is the world’s first regular hologram series to focus on immersive digital entertainment, will feature future concerts by holograms of Umm Kulthum, Warda Al-Jazairia and more.


Gig guide: Diriyah E-Prix 2022 entertainment preview

Gig guide: Diriyah E-Prix 2022 entertainment preview
Updated 27 January 2022

Gig guide: Diriyah E-Prix 2022 entertainment preview

Gig guide: Diriyah E-Prix 2022 entertainment preview
  • The lowdown on the lineup for this weekend’s post-race concerts

Craig David presents TS5

Who: Multi-talented British pop star from Southampton who rose to fame when he was still a teenager. His first album “Born to Do It,” released in 2000, was the fastest-selling debut album by a British male solo artist. His decline in popularity was equally swift — aided in part by becoming an object of ridicule on the TV show “Bo’ Selecta!” After a string of mediocre albums that sold increasingly poorly, it seemed like he was doomed to obscurity. However, now aged 40, David — a singer-songwriter, DJ, rapper and producer, has regained much of the credibility that he lost. TS5 is an alter-ego that David first revealed in 2012 when DJing at pre-parties he hosted in his Miami penthouse (TS5 is the apartment number). It has since developed into a project that combines several of his passions — DJing, rapping, singing and sometimes performing with a live band. He has a new album due out this year.

Genre: R&B, dance-pop.

Best known for: 1999’s “Re-Rewind,” a collaboration with the Artful Dodger which became one of the most recognized UK garage tracks and helped push garage music into the mainstream.

In his own words: “My songs are a time stamp for a lot of people’s lives.”

James Blunt

Who: English singer-songwriter beloved by people for whom Coldplay might be “a bit edgy.” The former soldier had a meteoric rise to fame with his debut album, 2004’s “Back to Bedlam,” which sold more than 11 million copies around the world. He became a divisive figure — ridiculed by many for what they saw as bland, wishy-washy music best suited for background noise at posh dinner parties, but championed by just as many for penning some easy-listening classics. He is now hugely popular on social media for his self-deprecating humor, which has forced many to re-evaluate their opinion of him. Expect to hear plenty of examples of his wit onstage in Diriyah.

Genre: Pop-rock.

Best known for: 2005’s “You’re Beautiful,” which seemed to be in constant rotation at radio stations around the world for the following 10 years.

In his own words: “Proof that one song is all you need.”

Wyclef Jean

Who: Haitian rapper, multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, actor and three-time Grammy winner who first gained attention as a member of the seminal US alt-hip-hop band Fugees (with his cousin Pras Michel and Lauryn Hill), whose second album, 1996’s “The Score” became one of the best-selling LPs of all time. When they split up, Jean went on to have a successful solo career, with 13 studio albums under his belt and some hugely popular collaborations with Mary J. Blige, Lil Wayne, Destiny’s Child and Shakira, among others. He also garnered headlines in 2010, when he announced his intention to run in the Haitian presidential elections. He was eventually ruled ineligible because he had not been a resident for the requisite amount of time.

Genre: Hip-hop, R&B, neo-soul.

Best known for: “Gone till November,” released in 1997, from his debut solo album “The Carnival.” This earworm had orchestral accompaniment provided by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

In his own words: “I’d say music resonates if you base your stories on real events.”

Two Door Cinema Club

Who: The most left-field selection from this year’s Diriyah E-Prix lineup, this Irish trio — frontman Alex Trimble, lead guitarist Sam Halliday, and bassist and keyboardist Kevin Baird — are UK festival alumni who formed while still at high school (as Life Without Rory) and recorded their debut, self-recorded EP, in 2008. “Four Words to Stand On” gained an online following (it wasn’t officially released until 2018) and the band began to generate buzz through their live shows. Their debut studio album, “Tourist History,” demonstrated Two Door Cinema Club’s knack for blending catchy, angular indie-pop music with literary lyricism and earned comparisons with Editors, Bloc Party and Futureheads. After an acrimonious not-quite-split around 2014, when Trimble was, he has said, “depressed and stressed,” the band overcame their differences and have continued to perform together.

Genre: Indie-rock, post-punk.

Best known for: “What You Know,” which was released in 2011 — the fifth single from “Tourist History.” It didn’t sell particularly well, but was picked up by Microsoft for online ads for Outlook.

In their own words: “There’s a lot of very safe music out there. We wanted to have some fun and do something that was truly interesting.”

The Script

Who: Another Irish trio (lead vocalist Danny O’Donoghue, lead guitarist Mark Sheehan, and drummer Glen Power), The Script formed in 2007 and were quickly signed to Sony imprint Photogenic. Their self-titled debut album, released in 2008, spawned three successful singles and hit number one in both Ireland and the UK (as did their next three LPs). Their radio-friendly lighter-waving anthems have been featured in numerous TV shows and The Script have sold more than 20 million albums to date. Initially met with skepticism by rock fans (thanks in no small part to the fact that O’Donoghue and Sheehan were formerly part of a boy band called Mytown), they have since earned respect (perhaps grudgingly at first) for their undeniably catchy songwriting (they wrote for Britney Spears and Boyz II Men, among others, before becoming famous) and musicianship.

Genre: Pop-rock.

Best known for: Their second single, 2008’s anthemic stadium singalong “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved.” Or maybe 2010’s anthemic stadium singalong “Breakeven,” their first US single, which sold more than 1 million copies in the States.

In their own words: “I think a lot of musicians would turn around and say, if you’re trying to (fit in), you’ve got it wrong. Personally, I think they’re idiots. If you’re not using the tools in order for you to make a great record that sits on radio, you’re not doing your job.” 


Washington exhibition showcases contemporary art from the UAE

Washington exhibition showcases contemporary art from the UAE
Updated 27 January 2022

Washington exhibition showcases contemporary art from the UAE

Washington exhibition showcases contemporary art from the UAE
  • Highlights from ‘Between the Sky and the Earth,’ a show to mark the UAE’s Golden Jubilee, which runs until March 31 at the Middle East Institute

Lamya Gargash — ‘The Court, The Indian Club’

“Between the Sky and the Earth: Contemporary Art from the UAE,” scheduled to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the UAE, is curated by Munira Al-Sayegh and hosted by the Washington-based Middle East Institute in partnership with the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery. It shows the work of 12 UAE-based artists and “challenges standard narratives about the Emirates through an intergenerational dialogue exploring their social, cultural and natural landscapes,” according to the MEI. Emirati photographer Lamya Gargash “documents the forgotten spaces in public and private realms in Emirati society.” This image is taken from her “Clubs” series. “Taking visual cues from interior decoration, theatre and museum exhibits, Gargash creates works that layer anxiety, nostalgia and restlessness,” her representatives The Third Line say of Gargash’s work.

Tarek Al-Ghoussein — ‘Island Making 2’

This shot is taken from Al-Ghoussein’s ongoing “Odysseus” series, which the Kuwaiti artist of Palestinian origin began in 2015. “One day I read an article explaining that the planning council was in the process of naming the 215 islands of Abu Dhabi. That was mind-blowing to me. I had no idea that Abu Dhabi had so many islands,” he told Arab News last year, talking about the series. “That article triggered my desire and imagination to go out and visit as many of (them) as I could in a spirit of discovery.”  In the series, according to the show catalogue, “Al-Ghoussein lingers on the traces of human presence, capturing images of places and objects that will soon cease to exist.”

Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim — ‘Sapling’

Ibrahim — a founding member of the Emirates Fine Art Society in 1980 — was born in the small city of Khorfakkan, an exclave of Sharjah, and much of his work has been inspired by his relationship with his hometown. “His deep connection to his local environment is reflected in his practice, whether through his installations, drawings or objects,” the show catalogue says. Sculptures such as this one — made of cardboard, stone, copper wire, papier-mâché, and linen — “reflect the natural formations of his domestic landscape.”

Mohammed Kazem — ‘Windows’

Kazem is a significant figure in the ‘Second Generation’ of contemporary UAE artists. He has used a range of mediums in his work. In his recent “Windows” series, from which this painting is taken, he focuses on the fleeting, often-mundane nature of daily life for many of the UAE’s inhabitants. “Invisible and intimate events in the landscape … are witnessed by shadowy, retreating figures, reduced to mere traces,” the catalogue states. In 2019, Kazem told Arab News: “All of my work is really about what I’m seeing and what I’m thinking. It’s playful work. But it’s also serious. And ironic.”

Shaikha Al-Mazrou — ‘Untitled (Blue Chevron)’ 

The acclaimed Emirati sculptor’s work are, according to the show catalogue, “articulations of tension and the interplay between form and content.” This particular piece, made from wet coated steel, it continues, “is an example of her irreverent use of material and its apparent contradictions.”

Augustine Paredes — ‘Am I Driving Safely?’

The Dubai-based Filipino artist and photographer uses the series from which this image is taken to examine Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed port, “capturing the transient lives of the truckers who transport goods to and from the port to destinations across the Arab world, providing a snapshot of the human face of globalization,” the show catalogue says.


REVIEW: ‘The Tale of Princess Fatima’ — excellent English adaptation of a thrilling Arab epic

REVIEW: ‘The Tale of Princess Fatima’ — excellent English adaptation of a thrilling Arab epic
Updated 27 January 2022

REVIEW: ‘The Tale of Princess Fatima’ — excellent English adaptation of a thrilling Arab epic

REVIEW: ‘The Tale of Princess Fatima’ — excellent English adaptation of a thrilling Arab epic

CHICAGO: According to its translator, Melanie Magidow, “The Tale of Princess Fatima, Warrior Woman: The Arabic Epic of Dhat Al-Himma” was originally printed in 1909 by a man named Ali Al-Maqanibi in Cairo. That version spans several volumes and thousands of pages of text, and it was reprinted in Beirut in 1980. It is the latter text from which Magidow selected a dozen stories to share — in English — with contemporary audiences in her recently published book.

Magidow stresses that her work is not a literal translation — however, the heart of her tale and the atmosphere it encapsulates is equally as electrifying as the original.

“Dhat Al-Himma” is, Magidow says, the only epic to be named after a woman. The tales are as captivating as they are complex, following events that begin at the end of the seventh century, with the fading power of the Umayyads and rise of the Abbasid Caliphate. The stories of the sword-wielding, spear-throwing, horse-riding, battle-hardened legend Princess Fatima (aka Dhat Al-Himma) thrill. The heroine’s adventures take her north from the Arabian Peninsula to the border of the Byzantine Empire.

Princess Fatima is born into a long line of leaders of the Bani Kilab tribe. However, her father Mazlum sees no value in girls, and when Fatima is abducted by the Bani Tayy — a rival tribe — Mazlum makes no attempt to rescue her.

With her captors, Fatima learns to ride a horse, to craft weapons and to fight, and wins the hearts of those around her with her ferocity and bravery. Eventually she finds her way home and becomes a hero of her tribe — despite patriarchal traditions.

Along the way Fatima encounters Byzantine emperors and Abbasid caliphs as Muslim and Christian armies compete for regional dominance and is caught up in fierce tribal wars. All the while she must protect herself from scheming tribe members who wish her ill.

This is a classic hero’s journey. Fatima sets out troubled by uncertainty but devotes herself to a higher purpose — service to God and to her tribe. Magidow’s translation is a fine introduction to a thrilling epic filled with fabulous characters and adventure.