Misk Art Week showcases artists from Saudi Arabia and international community

Afra Aldhaheri’s “End of A School Braid” (2021), part of the Misk Art Grant exhibition “Under Construction” at Misk Art Week 2021. (Omar Al-Tamimi)
Afra Aldhaheri’s “End of A School Braid” (2021), part of the Misk Art Grant exhibition “Under Construction” at Misk Art Week 2021. (Omar Al-Tamimi)
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Updated 03 December 2021

Misk Art Week showcases artists from Saudi Arabia and international community

Afra Aldhaheri’s “End of A School Braid” (2021), part of the Misk Art Grant exhibition “Under Construction” at Misk Art Week 2021. (Omar Al-Tamimi)
  • For its fifth year, Misk Art Institute’s annual event features several exhibitions exploring the nature of identity

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.”




Mira AlMazrooei and Jawaher AlMutairi’s “Glass Libary” (2021). Part of the Misk Art Grant exhibition titled  “Under construction” at Misk Art Week 2021. (Omar Al-Tamimi)

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.




Latifa Saeed’s “Sand room” (2021). Part of the Misk Art Grant exhibition titled “Under Construction” at Misk Art Week 2021. (Omar Al-Tamimi)

“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.




Nour Alwan’s “Sacred Spaces,” (2021). Part of the Misk Art Grant exhibition titled “Under Construction” at Misk Art Week 2021. (Omar Al-Tamimi)

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.




Hana Almilli’s “Through The Earth I Come Back Home” (2021). Part of the Masaha Residency showcase during Misk Art Week 2021. (Omar Al-Tamimi)

 


London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors
Updated 28 September 2022

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors
  • With 150 vendors, festival showcases 25 cuisines from around the world
  • Festival’s mission is to help support halal SMES

LONDON: The Halal Food Festival returned to the UK capital this year for its sixth edition with 25 cuisines on offer at more than 150 stalls.

At least 18,000 people attended the two-day event, which ran from Sept. 24-25 at London Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The scale and scope of the festival mean London now hosts one of the largest specifically halal food gatherings in the world, according to organizers. 

Kevin Jackson, director of Algebra Festivals, launched the festival with his partner Waleed Jahangia seven years ago. 

“We created an event that would put food at the heart of the community. There’s no better way of sharing culture than through food,” he said.

After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers have invested heavily in infrastructure, transforming the festival into an experience that goes beyond food.

The event featured a VIP lounge, shopping stalls, live entertainment, cookery theater, picnic area, kids play area, mechanical bull and fun competitions. 

One of the highlights was a live demonstration by NHS doctor and former “MasterChef” winner Dr. Saliha Mahmood Ahmed. 

Using bread dough to teach women how to examine themselves for early signs of breast cancer, Ahmed aimed to overcome cultural taboos that contribute to low cancer awareness among the Muslim community in the UK. 

The new additions reflect the growing view that halal is more than just about food but is a lifestyle, too. 

Jackson recalled that when he and Jahangia launched the festival, most Muslim events in London were held in community centers or school halls. 

But the London Stadium event shows the Muslim community now has access to some of the most renowned venues in the capital. 

The festival has also evolved into a cultural melting pot, with both its cuisine and its foodies coming from around the globe. 

“We’ve got people from Manchester, Birmingham, people who came on a day trip from Paris yesterday. We’ve got people from Spain. We’ve got people from Scotland. This is such a big event for the Muslim community that they travel for miles to come to it,”  Jackson said.  

Chef Fatima El-Rify of Mama Hayam reported positive feedback from visitors tasting her Egyptian cuisine. 

“They didn’t know what it was completely. They knew a little about kosheri, but now they have a really strong idea. They’re coming back for more. They’re bringing their friends. They really love kosheri and mahshi, so that’s really good.” 

She added: “I think there is nowhere else in London that you can try all these different cuisines and just have this ease of it all being halal.” 

The festival also features the timeless and the contemporary, from Jordan’s traditional Anabtawi Sweets to London’s Lola’s Cupcakes.

Apart from catering to Muslim visitors, it aims to provide an international platform for the halal economy, while helping to nurture halal small and medium enterprises. 

“We’re building business relationships. The traders all trade with one another. The suppliers, our partners here, Tariq Halal, are providing products for our exhibitors,” Jackson said. 

Founder Shahin Bharwani of Mocktail Company, which sells non-alcoholic beverages,  said that she was fortunate to have been able to exhibit at the Halal Food Festival in 2016 within months of launching her business. 

“It was brilliant in terms of being a startup to get the brand exposure needed at this type of event.” 

Festival vendors reflected on the halal industry’s growth in the past decade. 

Bharwani said: “There’s so many variations of businesses here, particularly the food. Years ago you could never imagine halal tacos hell or gourmet burgers, that type of thing, so to have those kinds of halal options now is amazing.” 

Co-partner Abid Haider of Proper Burgers said that the event “just keeps getting bigger and bigger.” 

With the industry now worth billions, the London festival is part of a growing movement placing halal on high street.

 


Christie’s Dubai to exhibit rare Islamic and Mughal finds

Christie’s Dubai to exhibit rare Islamic and Mughal finds
Updated 28 September 2022

Christie’s Dubai to exhibit rare Islamic and Mughal finds

Christie’s Dubai to exhibit rare Islamic and Mughal finds

DUBAI: Set to take place from Sept. 28 to Oct.3, Christie’s Middle East and North Africa has announced a new exhibition open to the public of a selection of important works of art from across a number of forthcoming auctions taking place at Christie’s Dubai.

The exhibition, taking place in DIFC, will showcase a selection of top lots, including paintings, works of art and carpets.

One of the highlights at the exhibition includes works from "Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Oriental Rugs and Carpets" auction.  The first item is an exceptionally rare 17th century Royal Mughal Pashmina carpet, from 1650's Northern India. Another piece of interest is a work from a group of Iznik pottery from The Victor Adda Collection – a collector based in Alexandria in the early 20th century.

Also included in the collection are a number of important Old Master and European paintings. These include Sir Anthony van Dyck's "Portrait of Henrietta Maria." In 1632, van Dyck was appointed as ‘Principal Painter’ to King Charles I of Britain.  

A number of equestrian paintings, including a work by French artist Theodore Gericault and a racing scene by British master Sir Alfred James Munnings, are being showcased, reflecting the region’s considerable passion for horsemanship in all forms.

“This carefully curated selection of important works on exhibition at Christie’s Dubai reflects the discerning taste of collectors across the MENA region, who appreciate the very best quality, artistry, and extraordinary craftsmanship represented by these works across categories.  It is a great honor to be able to showcase these works in Dubai for the first time,: said Arne Everwijn, Director of Business Development Middle East and North Africa, in a statement.


Singer Kylie Minogue to headline a New Year’s Eve gala dinner in Dubai  

Singer Kylie Minogue to headline a New Year’s Eve gala dinner in Dubai  
Updated 28 September 2022

Singer Kylie Minogue to headline a New Year’s Eve gala dinner in Dubai  

Singer Kylie Minogue to headline a New Year’s Eve gala dinner in Dubai  

DUBAI: Australian pop sensation Kylie Minogue is set to headline a New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner at Dubai’s Atlantis, The Palm. 

Minogue will take to the stage in the lead-up to hotel’s 2023 countdown, entertaining guests with anthems such as “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head,” “All The Lovers” and “The Loco-Motion.” 

Her performance will be followed by fireworks and pyrotechnic displays. 

This year’s gala dinner theme is titled “A Night With The Stars.” 

Minogue first performed in the Middle East at the resort’s grand opening back in 2008.

The music sensation has sold more than 80 million albums worldwide and in 2020, made UK chart history becoming the first female solo artist to claim number one albums in five consecutive decades.  

Minogue has multiple awards and accolades to her name, including three BRIT Awards, two MTV Music Awards and a Grammy Award. 

Timothy Kelly, the executive vice president and managing director of Atlantis, said in a statement: “We are incredibly excited to welcome the return of Kylie Minogue to Atlantis, The Palm for a spectacular New Year’s Eve performance.”

“As the leading entertainment destination in the region, our New Year’s Eve Gala Dinners have become legendary, with Kylie joining the likes of rock band KISS in 2020, and Robbie Williams in 2021. We no doubt that 2023 will be another exceptional moment and can’t wait to give our guests one of the most memorable New Year’s Eve of their lives,” added Kelly. 


Tunisian model Ameni Esseibi shows off sleek style at Paris Fashion Week 

Tunisian model Ameni Esseibi shows off sleek style at Paris Fashion Week 
Updated 28 September 2022

Tunisian model Ameni Esseibi shows off sleek style at Paris Fashion Week 

Tunisian model Ameni Esseibi shows off sleek style at Paris Fashion Week 
  • The 24-year-old, considered the first plus-size model in the Middle East, is a staunch advocate for inclusivity and diversity in the fashion industry

DUBAI: Tunisian model Ameni Esseibi made her international runway debut this week by walking for French label Victor Weinsanto at Paris Fashion Week. 

“Mama, I made it to Paris Fashion week,” she wrote on Instagram, sharing a picture of herself on the runway. “This is just the beginning.” 

Esseibi, who was the only Arab model participating in the fashion show, went on to thank the Arab Fashion Council, a non-profit organization representing the fashion industry in the Middle East and North Africa that named the Dubai-based model as its new ambassador earlier this year.

“Thank you so much Arab Fashion Council for helping make my dream come true and Victor Weinsanto for believing in me,” she wrote. 

Esseibi walked down the runway in a multi-colored dress which she paired with pearl white satin gloves. 

The 24-year-old, considered the first plus-size model in the Middle East, is a staunch advocate for inclusivity and diversity in the fashion industry.

Esseibi has worked with a number of esteemed brands including Jean Paul Gautier and H&M and has featured in the pages of multiple publications. 


French Algerian model Loli Bahia hits the runway in Paris 

French Algerian model Loli Bahia hits the runway in Paris 
Updated 28 September 2022

French Algerian model Loli Bahia hits the runway in Paris 

French Algerian model Loli Bahia hits the runway in Paris 

DUBAI: From Milan to Paris, French Algerian model Loli Bahia has been gracing the runways for renowned luxury labels this month. 

This week, the catwalk star modeled for French luxury fashion house Yves Saint Laurent at Paris Fashion Week in a show set against the backdrop of a twinkling Eiffel Tower.

Guests, including K-Pop star Rose of Blackpink, trickled into the venue under brooding clouds as night began to fall, stopping for selfies in front of a huge, flowing water fountain, while crowds lined up on the esplanade overlooking the venue, The Associated Press reported.

Designer Anthony Vaccarello presented the summer collection of sleek evening wear that featured dramatic 80s shoulders, column silhouettes and hoods.

The model shared a close up of her Yves Saint Laurent look on social media. (Instagram)

Bahia emerged from the dark, wearing a sheer floor-length black dress with a turtleneck as she made her way slowly down a broad set of stairs before marching around the fountain. 

Her look was accessorized with chunky gold bangles, large earrings and one-toed heels. 

Other looks in the fashion show included 90s designs infused with the glaringly 80s capuches that came in muted or caramel tones — hues also reminiscent of that era. 

Hoods formed the base silhouette of many pared-down ensembles, which contrasted with statement gold earrings or large wooden bracelets, just like the ones Bahia wore. 

Heavy open wool coats and regal trenches, which caressed the floor, created a rectangular window frame through which to see the pants in some clever fashion theater.

The house founder turned the capuche into one of his most iconic styles – originally inspired by the tubular sheath donned by dancer Martha Graham for her 1930 choreography “Lamentation.”

Paris Fashion Week kicked off on Tuesday. Saint Laurent and Dior are among some 107 brands showcasing Spring-Summer 2023 collections.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by (@runway.icons)

Last week, Bahia modeled for Italian luxury label Versace during Milan Fashion Week alongside part-Arab models Gigi and Bella Hadid, Imaan Hammam and Nora Attal. Emily Ratajkowski, Paris Hilton and Irina Shayk were also among the models who walked the runway. 

Bahia wore a hot-pink dress with a short bridal veil.

Bahia, who is signed to Women Management Paris, made her runway debut in 2020 at Louis Vuitton’s Fall 2021 show. She would go on to star in the Parisian luxury house’s advertising campaign for Fall 2021.

She has also featured in campaigns for Saint Laurent, Courreges and Max Mara in addition to starring on the cover of Vogue Italia.