Six artists visually transform AlUla oasis for first art residency

Short Url
Updated 14 January 2022

Six artists visually transform AlUla oasis for first art residency

Six artists visually transform AlUla oasis for first art residency
  • After 11 weeks of artistic exploration, inaugural residency in Kingdom’s ancient region culminates with showcase of artists’ works
  • Artworks also to be displayed at AlUla Arts festival taking place from Feb. 13-26

DUBAI: In the ancient desert lands of AlUla, now one of Saudi Arabia’s top tourist attractions, six artists have spent the last three months creating works as part of the area’s first art residency program.

Under the theme “The Oasis Reborn,” the cohort hailing from the Kingdom, Syria, the UAE, France, and Algeria, has, since the start of November, been immersed in AlUla’s ancient sites, natural oasis, and varied landscapes of lush valleys, sandstone mountains, red-rock cliffs, canyons, and velvety sand dunes.

Their mission has been to create art that marries the rich cultural heritage of the area with its bountiful natural environment.




Muhannad Shono, On This Sacred Day, 2022, Mabiti AlUla, The Oasis Reborn Art residency 1. (Supplied)

They have been working in collaboration with technical, scientific, and archaeological experts developing the natural oasis into a 50-square-kilometer hospitality, heritage, and cultural venture. The artists also linked up with local community artisans and cultural practitioners to learn about AlUla’s rich heritage.

The residency initiative was the brainchild of officials from the Royal Commission for AlUla, and the French Agency for AlUla Development, and was operated by Manifesto, a French creative agency set up to help companies with artistic projects.

Laure Confavreux-Colliex, executive director at Manifesto, told Arab News: “The goal of this residency program was to work with the six artists chosen from different backgrounds and practices to be involved through art in the development and regeneration of AlUla.




Laura Sellies, Peuplé de feuilles qui bougent (“Populated by Moving Leaves”), 2022, Mabiti AlUla, The Oasis Reborn Art residency 4. (Supplied)

“The theme dedicated to ‘The Oasis Reborn’ means we are digging into those issues of what is in the oasis, what has been in the oasis, and how to bring to light the history and heritage of the oasis so that AlUla can be regenerated.

“Our goal at Manifesto was to create those links between the artists and the local AlUla community.”

The first edition took place in Mabiti AlUla, a palm grove and guest house in the heart of AlUla’s oasis. The next edition will be held at Madrasat AdDeera, an arts and design center set to become a key space in the future Arts District of AlUla, a cluster of education and art programs aimed at providing an active and vibrant destination for communities, students, artists, and visitors.

The first cohort of artists-in-residence began collaborations with local artisans through the programs held at Madrasat AdDeera.




Sara Favriau, Ruban de Möbius (“Möbius Strip”), 2022, Mabiti AlUla, The Oasis Reborn Art residency 1. (Supplied)

Suspended over a pool of water and positioned in between a grove of palm trees, Saudi artist Rashed Al-Shashai’s installation, “Thuraya,” draws links between modern science and the ancient past.

Created using natural materials from the oasis, it is colored red with golden lanterns on either side that at night cast reflections on the water and illuminate the area.

Al-Shashai told Arab News that his piece had been inspired by the importance of the stars to the lives of farmers.

He said: “My grandfather used to take me with him to perform the Fajr prayer. I remember the path we used to walk together. When he was talking to me, he was always looking at the sky, at the star, at the Thuraya and its position in the sky. Farmers have always been guided by its location in the sky to start planting or harvesting. It was the start of my inspiration for my installation.”




The artists spent the last three months creating works as part of the area’s first art residency program. (Supplied)

The cycle of death and renewal in the oasis was the focus of Muhannad Shono’s work, “On This Sacred Day,” with the smoke rising from the installation representing the stories of comings and goings, loss, and remembrance.

He said: “It is a ceremonial piece that transcribes the journey of plant, ash, smoke, and sky, in other words, a cycle of death and renewal unfolding inside a living oasis. It also questions purposeful change, transformation, and impacts to guard against fires that may seek to reduce the world to ash.”

French artist Sara Favriau’s artwork, titled “The Oasis is a Wadi Raised to the Sky,” takes three forms and three distinct steps corresponding to three related moments: Small sculptures called “Trifles and Trinkets,” a filmed performance titled “A Never-Ending Day,” and an installation named “Mobius Strip.” The artist created the trio of forms to question the notion of a garden of the desert and, more specifically, of the oasis, envisioning the planet as an expansive garden with the human and animal realms united as one.




Sofiane Si Merabet (The Confused Artist), It’s Not Early Anymore, 2022, Mabiti AlUla, The Oasis Reborn Art residency 1. (Supplied)

French-Algerian artist Sofiane si Merabet looked at the oasis as a “motherly environment” that had nurtured humans throughout time.

Titled “It’s Not Early Anymore,” his work reflects on the recent development of the oasis of AlUla and the excitement surrounding wedding celebrations. Located in a small, one-story building on an oasis farm, he has produced a multimedia installation capturing the Saudi traditions of the Tagagat, or female wedding singers, and regional elements documenting urban signs and shops referring to weddings.

Si Merabet told Arab News that AlUla was also known as the “bride of the mountains.”

He said: “Working closely with Nujood, the only Tagaga of AlUla, is a very powerful way of documenting the sociology of the oasis, the current dynamic of change, and how both are linked to spaces.




Talin Hazbar, Earth Readings, 2022, Mabiti AlUla, The Oasis Reborn Art residency 1. (Supplied)

“The oasis as a motherly space, nourishing, full of greenery, and the desert, it reminds me of the dichotomy that you can find during weddings: A mirror of how interactions between genders or different social groups occur.

“This work searches for the permanence of local traditions and questions the meaning of preservation and authenticity and how they can be reinvented,” he added.

Talin Hazbar, an artist born in Syria and based in the UAE, created “Earth Readings,” a piece exploring the myriad of relationships between the past and the present, the imperceptible and the material. The work delves into the meaning of the land through “mark-making and map-making narratives.”

She said: “I worked with a living material which can be reshaped, remolded, reconstructed, and that constantly adapts, and evolves. It becomes a trace of its lifetime and of its space while also becoming a key to understand AlUla in its own elements, stories, and practices.”

In a powerful nod to the expansive and varied landscape of the AlUla oasis, French artist Laura Sellies’ “Populated by Moving Leaves” showcases an installation made up of sculptures, sounds, and texts. She said it invoked a “palace of memories” whereby metal structures invite visitors to listen to the voices of the oasis — both real and fictional —including women, men, birds, camels, winds, water, rocks, and sand.

The artists’ works were presented to the public over three days of open studios in January and will be on display during AlUla Arts festival taking place from Feb. 13 to 26.


Actress Melissa Barrera talks ‘Scream 5’ wearing a statement jumpsuit by Elie Saab

Actress Melissa Barrera talks ‘Scream 5’ wearing a statement jumpsuit by Elie Saab
The Mexican actress wore a black Elie Saab jumpsuit to promote the new film. Instagram
Updated 16 January 2022

Actress Melissa Barrera talks ‘Scream 5’ wearing a statement jumpsuit by Elie Saab

Actress Melissa Barrera talks ‘Scream 5’ wearing a statement jumpsuit by Elie Saab

DUBAI: “Scream” will hit theaters in Saudi Arabia this week, more than 25 years after the late Wes Craven’s slasher classic thrilled fans. The new film is the fifth title in the cult series and is a direct sequel to 2011’s “Scream 4.” Directed by filmmakers Matt Bettinello-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, “Scream” sees franchise mainstays Courteney Cox and Neve Campbell reprise their roles, while newcomers include Sonia Ben Ammar, Melissa Barerra, Jenna Ortega, Mason Gooding, Dylan Minnette and Jack Quaid.

“Scream” follows a new Ghostface-masked assailant who begins targeting teenagers to resurrect secrets from the town of Woodsboro’s past.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by laChambre (@lachambrehq)

Following the hotly-anticipated movie’s successful release in the US on Jan. 14, Barrera sat down with show host Kelly Clarkson to promote the new film and to discuss her role in the latest installment of the “Scream” franchise. For her appearance on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” the rising Hollywood star decided to don one of the most versatile pieces in fashion — the jumpsuit.

The 31-year-old exuded casual glam wearing a black power jumpsuit from Lebanese couturier Elie Saab’s Resort 2022 collection, which was titled “Infinite Horizons.” The design featured short, layered sleeves, white stitching throughout and a delicate bow on the neckline. The loose track-suit style jumpsuit boasted a black stripe running down the side. The Mexican star paired the look, which was put together by stylist Penny Lovell, with open-toe pumps and a bedazzled Ghostface-shaped hairclip to secure her raven lengths.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Lilly Keys (@lilly_keys)

The disco-era favorite that is undergoing a renaissance on the runways — it popped up on the Spring 2022 catwalks of Alberta Ferretti, Etro, Isabel Marant and Fendi — is slowly migrating to the red carpet and photo calls.

Meanwhile, the Monterrey-born star is certainly one to watch. For the past few years, Barrera has split her time between Mexico and the US. After growing up in Monterrey, Mexico, she studied in New York at Tisch School of the Arts, then returned to Mexico to star in telenovela “Siempre tuya Acapulco.” The Clinique brand ambassador moved back to the US to film the TV drama series “Vida” and later to star as Vanessa in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s screen adaptation of the musical “In the Heights.”


Quirky Saudi vintage collector lays down a challenge to the fast-fashion world

Alia Kurdi, a 27-year-old fashion enthusiast, uses shirts from her grandfather’s Versace collection that are often loud and bright in her outfits and receives compliments for her style. (Supplied)
Alia Kurdi, a 27-year-old fashion enthusiast, uses shirts from her grandfather’s Versace collection that are often loud and bright in her outfits and receives compliments for her style. (Supplied)
Updated 16 January 2022

Quirky Saudi vintage collector lays down a challenge to the fast-fashion world

Alia Kurdi, a 27-year-old fashion enthusiast, uses shirts from her grandfather’s Versace collection that are often loud and bright in her outfits and receives compliments for her style. (Supplied)
  • ‘Re-accessorize everything, borrow from your friends and lend them stuff. The perfect way to not buy for occasions’

JEDDAH: A young Saudi fashion enthusiast is trying to make people aware of vintage fashion and the footprint that fast fashion has on the world.

Alia Kurdi is a 27-year-old fashion enthusiast who collects, designs, and sells vintage clothes in Saudi Arabia. She has always felt that, growing up, the only way she could express herself was through her clothes,
“There weren’t many venues for self-expression, and because I am a bit of a radical person, I began showing my personality through my clothes, and that is when I began building this connection to different pieces.”
The appreciation of vintage clothes ran within the Kurdi family. She told Arab News that her grandfather collected Versace shirts that were often loud and bright, “He didn’t dress like the typical Arab man. I still wear some of his shirts today, and people compliment them and are often shocked to find out that they belong to my grandfather.”

I feel like I already have a connection with a piece; I feel called to a store, and immediately from a distance, I know the thing I am going to buy as if these pieces speak to me. Usually, they are extremely special, whether the texture or the pattern.

Alia Kurdi

People in Saudi Arabia have always recycled their used items through charity.
However, the situation has changed as conversations around resale and pre-owned pieces have evolved.
Kurdi said that she began shopping mindfully ever since she learned the footprint that fast fashion had on the globe; that is when she started venturing into vintage and second-hand shops. The collector said that once she had started, she never looked back, and 2022 marks her fast-fashion-free seventh year.
Kurdi advised people thinking of going into fast fashion to start with baby steps and set realistic goals, “One of the most negative things is buying for occasions because people think they cannot repeat. Re-accessorize everything, borrow from your friends and lend them stuff. That will be the perfect way to not buy for occasions.”
The collector said that she loves exploring different streets and shops to find her clothes; she described the process of selecting what to buy as “intuitive.”
“I feel like I already have a connection with a piece; I feel called to a store, and immediately from a distance, I know the thing I am going to buy as if these pieces speak to me. Usually, they are extremely special, whether the texture or the pattern,” she said.

Alia Kurdi has recycled these pants from a vintage skirt. (Supplied)

Kurdi also said that the pieces she selects turn out to be beautiful, and she has developed this compass to find hidden treasures.
She describes her style as an “Emo Unicorn,” someone who likes a lot of black but with loud colors, as well. Her emotions are reflected in the outfit she is wearing.
“I did get a lot of negative comments as I was growing up, and I was very triggered by it. However, now not only have I changed my approach, but people are celebrating it a lot more; they say things like it’s amazing that I have stayed true to myself,” she said.
“Still, a lot of people have said that I was much prettier a few years ago, and I recognize that at that time I was much more insecure.”
She said her favorite piece of clothing is a ‘Google Chrome’ jacket that she bought in Berlin: “It’s black with a lot of bright colors. I broke my spending limit rule for this one jacket because I actually had to have it. So many people have complimented me. I made a friend through it as well. I am so glad that it found me.”
She gave that name to the jacket because the colors looked like Google’s logo. If she were to sum up her style and personality in an item of clothing, this would be it: “It is rough in some spots and soft in some, it is all black but also colorful. Kind of like what I feel all the time.”
The collector has started her own brand where she connects people with pieces with stories, “Diskofrenzy was born because often I will find pieces that were very special but not my size, but I had to collect them and keep them with me. My goal for my brand is to make Diskofrenzy the ultimate go-to for vintage and up-cycled fashion.”
The name connects two very personal things for Kurdi: Disco, which is vintage but is now making a comeback, and she said that she feels a frenzy only when she is dancing or shopping. This is why she decided that the perfect name for her brand would be Diskofrenzy.
She said that people often come up to her and say that only she can pull off a certain style. However, in her opinion that is not true, “Anyone can pull off whatever they want. Just be quirky and weird and a little bit rebellious. Express yourself through what you wear.”


Italian fashion pioneer Nino Cerruti dies

Italian fashion pioneer Nino Cerruti dies
Updated 15 January 2022

Italian fashion pioneer Nino Cerruti dies

Italian fashion pioneer Nino Cerruti dies
  • Cerruti, who dressed many a Hollywood star in his heyday, introduced “casual chic” into men’s fashion when he created the first deconstructed jacket in the 1970s
  • He was one of the leading figures in men’s ready-to-wear fashion in the 20th century

ROME: Pioneering Italian fashion designer Nino Cerruti has died at the age of 91, it was on reported Saturday.
Cerruti, who dressed many a Hollywood star in his heyday, introduced “casual chic” into men’s fashion when he created the first deconstructed jacket in the 1970s.
He died at the Vercelli hospital in the northwest region of Piedmont, where he had been admitted for a hip operation, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported on its website.
Cerruti was one of the leading figures in men’s ready-to-wear fashion in the 20th century, with a style that was at once elegant and relaxed.
“A giant among Italian entrepreneurs has left us,” said Gilberto Pichetto, deputy minister for economic development.
Tall and slim, he always insisted he be the first to try on his creations, many of which were kept at the textile factory his grandfather founded in the northern town of Biella in 1881.
“I have always dressed the same person, myself,” he once said.
Born in 1930 in Biella, Cerruti dreamt of becoming a journalist.
But after his father died when he was 20, he was forced to give up his philosophy studies to take over the family textile factory.
In the 1960s, he met Giorgio Armani and hired him as a creator of men’s fashion.
The duo made a profound mark on the world of fashion, before Armani branched out on his own with his own fashion house in 1975.
Cerruti opened his first shop in Paris in 1967, launching his luxury brand into global fame.
“Clothes only exist from the moment someone puts them on. I would like these clothes to continue to live, to soak up life,” he said.
While French students protested in 1968, he revolutionized fashion by asking male and female models to walk down the catwalk in the same clothes.
“Trousers have given women freedom,” said the designer, who in the 1970s created his first line of women’s clothing.
The man nicknamed the “philosopher of clothing” dressed American actors Richard Gere and Robert Redford as well as French star Jean-Paul Belmondo.
He also made cameo appearances in Hollywood films “Cannes Man” (1996) and “Holy Man” (1998).


US actress Hilary Duff taps Lebanese designer for press event

US actress Hilary Duff taps Lebanese designer for press event
Updated 15 January 2022

US actress Hilary Duff taps Lebanese designer for press event

US actress Hilary Duff taps Lebanese designer for press event

DUBAI: US actress and singer Hilary Duff turned heads this week wearing a pair of heels designed by Lebanese shoemaker Andrea Wazen.

The “Lizzie McGuire” star championed the brand’s Denver pumps in white during a press event for her upcoming show “How I Met Your Father,” which will premiere on Hulu on Jan. 18.

The 10-episode comedy series is a sequel to the CBS hit sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Hilary Duff (@hilaryduff)

Duff, who is also the producer of the series, will play the role of Sophie, the show’s protagonist, who tells her son the story of how she met his father.

During the press event, Duff paired the heels with a printed thigh-high dress in blue by US label Rhode that featured a ruched skirt with a side ruffle, elbow-length puff sleeves and a round neckline.

“This whole thang to sit in a chair from 9-7 yesterday doing press, but those shoes and that gloss lid were sass,” wrote Duff to her 19.7 million Instagram followers, complimenting Wazen’s creations.

Duff is known for championing labels from around the world.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Hilary Duff (@hilaryduff)

In November, the star turned to a British-Afghan-Pakistani designer for the 2021 Baby2Baby gala at Hollywood’s Pacific Design Centre. 

The 34-year-old actress was a vision in a dazzling hot pink dress by UK-based label Osman, which featured a plunging neckline, dramatic sleeves and thigh-high slit. 

Duff is not the only celebrity fan of Wazen, however.

In fact, the Lebanese label 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, Megan Fox, Hailey Bieber, Khloe Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and Addison Rae, who have all championed Wazen’s creations.

Just this week, US actress Alyssa Milano wore the label’s black Denver pumps during an interview with celebrity interviewer Steve Varley for her new Netflix film “Brazen.”


Model Bella Hadid pays tribute to her late Palestinian grandmother

Model Bella Hadid pays tribute to her late Palestinian grandmother
Updated 15 January 2022

Model Bella Hadid pays tribute to her late Palestinian grandmother

Model Bella Hadid pays tribute to her late Palestinian grandmother

DUBAI: Supermodel Bella Hadid on Saturday paid tribute to her late Palestinian grandmother on Instagram.

The half-Dutch catwalk star shared a childhood photo with her siblings Gigi and Anwar Hadid and their grandmother Khairia Hadid, who died in 2008. “I miss you Teta,” wrote Bella on her Stories.

Instagram/ @bellahadid

The fashion star’s father, US-Palestinian real estate mogul Mohamed Hadid, re-shared Bella’s post and wrote: “With Tata, with the princess of Nazareth Tata Khairia Al-Daher Al-Fahoum Hadid, granddaughter of the king and the prince of Nazareth and Gallalie Daher Al-Omer.”

Daher Al-Omer was the Arab ruler of northern Palestine until 1774, and Mohamed claims that his mother, Khairia, was his granddaughter.

Gigi’s daughter’s name, Khai, is a nod to their grandmother, and Bella is also named after Khairia — her middle name is Khair.

Anwar, the youngest of the Hadid family, is named after his grandfather Anwar Hadid.