Palestinian poet Farah Chamma’s mix of music, verse is finding fans around the world

Palestinian poet Farah Chamma’s mix of music, verse is finding fans around the world
Farah Chamma is a UAE-based Palestinian poet. (Supplied)
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Updated 12 April 2022

Palestinian poet Farah Chamma’s mix of music, verse is finding fans around the world

Palestinian poet Farah Chamma’s mix of music, verse is finding fans around the world
  • Farah Chamma: ‘My work is about freedom in all its forms’

DUBAI: It’s going to be a busy year for the young UAE-based Palestinian poet Farah Chamma. Chamæleon — a poetry and electronic music project Chamma founded with the Brazilian producer Liev — is set to perform at festivals in Portugal and Holland, while her solo show, “Poems without Bread,” is to launch in Dubai before the summer. She’s also recording a second season of “Maqsouda,” a Sowt-produced podcast with the Lebanese poet Zeina Hashem Beck. And, if that’s not enough, she’s also performing at the Festival Poésie Moteur in Belgium on April 9.

“It’s too much,” Chamma says with a laugh. “This is why I’m overwhelmed. But I’m trying to go with the flow and find the right time for everything.” That means working remotely with Liev, who is based in São Paulo, and trying to imagine how Chamæleon’s debut EP, “Uncanny Valley (Vol 1),” will work on stage. It also means balancing her full-time job at Sharjah’s House of Wisdom with a spoken-word career that has been integral to her life since she was a teenager.

Chamma first burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old at The Poeticians, a Dubai-based poetry group founded by the Palestinian filmmaker and writer Hind Shoufani. It was her online performances of “How Must I Believe?” and “The Nationality,” however, that catapulted the then-19-year-old onto the global stage and set the tone for much of what would follow. Now her new solo show, “Poems without Bread,” will bring together much of Chamma’s colloquial work in a single performance. The show will feature 10 pieces, including her latest, “Falastini Ana,” which was released as an animated video on YouTube last October.




Music is playing an increasingly important role in Chamma’s work. (Supplied)

Created by the Palestinian artist Ahmed Khalidi and accompanied by music written and performed by Maruan and Ismael Betawi, “Falastini Ana” was originally commissioned by Action for Hope and is in many ways indicative of how Chamma’s poetry about Palestine has changed.

“It feels more like my story now,” she says. “It feels more like the Palestine in my daily life. And one of the shifts has been that the nostalgia has changed. The nostalgia is becoming more tangible.”

Although the bulk of her poetry has focused on Palestine, the themes of Chamma’s work are broad. Sexuality, emotions and social justice all feature strongly, while a perpetual questioning drives much of her writing. “It’s not just Palestine — but Palestine is core because it happens to be where I’m from. I miss it, I talk about it, I have family from there, it just comes up more. But I really think it’s about freedom in all its forms. How do you free yourself from everything? Even sexuality is about freedom. It’s always about people being well in their bodies, in their minds, in their land and I just filter out all that other noise, you know?”




Chamæleon is a poetry and electronic music project Chamma founded with the Brazilian producer Live. (Supplied)

Music is playing an increasingly important role in Chamma’s work. With Chamæleon, which explores the intersections between spoken word and musical textures, the sounds are electronic and ambient. With the Betawi brothers, they are more traditional — the poetry is performed in the Palestinian dialect and set largely to oud and violin. Both projects have added elements of visuals or animation.

“It was never intentional,” explains Chamma, who was born in Dubai and lives in Sharjah. “The poetry was not written to be set to music, but I think it started with the most obvious instrument in Arabic poetry — the oud. But that wasn’t enough, so we started experimenting. I think rap really helped me understand rhythm, poetry and music. Music works because it enhances the experience. And I don’t think it’s about poetry set to music. I’m starting to see it as a genre in itself. It’s a musical experience.

“This is why it’s enjoyable, because it doesn’t give more weight to one element over the other, unless you really want to give weight to the words at a particular moment,” she continues. “It’s about how the whole thing sounds and it’s so much more freeing to enjoy the sound of everything, rather than thinking of it as a poem set to music. I don’t think it’s an accompaniment any more. It feels like a marriage of both elements.”

Chamæleon’s debut EP was released in February and an album with the Betawi brothers is currently being cooked. “There’s momentum now and I’m very content with what’s happening,” says Chamma with a smile. “With these two groups I’m completely comfortable and safe. And we’re thriving together.”


Lebanese British actress Razane Jammal unveiled as Dior’s Middle East ambassador

Lebanese British actress Razane Jammal unveiled as Dior’s Middle East ambassador
Razane Jammal most recently starred in blockbuster Netflix series “The Sandman.” (AFP)
Updated 05 October 2022

Lebanese British actress Razane Jammal unveiled as Dior’s Middle East ambassador

Lebanese British actress Razane Jammal unveiled as Dior’s Middle East ambassador

DUBAI: Lebanese British actress Razane Jammal has been unveiled as the Middle East’s brand ambassador for French luxury label Dior.

“I’m so unbelievably excited to finally announce that I will be joining Dior as a brand ambassador in the Middle East!” Jammal posted on Instagram on Wednesday.

“Ever since I joined the fashion community, I wanted to collaborate with people I can truly grow with, to join a family that I value as much as it values me. It’s been a long journey but I can confidently say I’ve found my home! The ME Dior team you have been so incredible. An extra special thank you to @sandrasawaya for believing in me and making this happen. This is the start of a wonderful collaboration. I cannot wait to embody the timeless creations of @mariagraziachiuri,” she added, referring to Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri and the Head of PR & Communications Middle East for Christian Dior Couture Sandra Sawaya Nehme.

Jammal most recently starred in blockbuster Netflix series “The Sandman,” based on the legendary graphic novels written by award-winning British author Neil Gaiman.


How time flies at Riyadh ‘nostalgia’ exhibition

How time flies at Riyadh ‘nostalgia’ exhibition
Updated 05 October 2022

How time flies at Riyadh ‘nostalgia’ exhibition

How time flies at Riyadh ‘nostalgia’ exhibition
  • Misk Art Institute’s ‘Tales of Nostalgia’ opened at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Fine Arts Hall on Oct. 2 to showcase conceptual artworks by creators from Europe and the Middle East
  • ‘Cold Flux’ by London-based Ben Cullen Williams, explores the effects of global warming on the Larsen-B ice shelf, which splintered and almost entirely collapsed 20 years ago

RIYADH: A Riyadh art gallery has opened an exhibition exploring time, the mind and the changing world through installations by a dozen local and international artists.

Misk Art Institute’s “Tales of Nostalgia” opened at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Fine Arts Hall on Oct. 2 to showcase conceptual artworks by creators from Europe and the Middle East.

“Cold Flux” by London-based Ben Cullen Williams, explores the effects of global warming on the Larsen-B ice shelf, which splintered and almost entirely collapsed 20 years ago. The artist’s installation uses video taken during his own trip to Antarctica, and comparisons with later satellite imagery. 

His footage was passed through an AI algorithm that distorts and morphs the images as the shelf changes and disappears over time.

“I thought it’d be interesting to kind of potentially rebuild these landscapes through the use of technology, a thing that kind of destroyed it,” Williams told Arab News. “Fundamentally, it talks about our changing planet, how our planet is constantly moving and morphing. But it also kind of brings the question, is technology the solution to our current problems?”

“Novae”, an audio-visuel work by the French art collective Lab212, uses a recreated star field to explore the constellations and the history of astronomy, while sounds of nature and a poem by Prince Badr bin Abdulmohsen, “Khouf wa Sikat,” plays.

Saudi artist Abeer Sultan’s work, “An Imagined Perpetual Past” focuses on Medini marital traditions, and the bride’s anonymity and the extravagance of her clothing.

Daniah Alsaleh’s “Rewind, Play, Glitch” explores nostalgia and the distortion of memory by time through the use of digital photos on a living room wall that change and morph.

The MAI also exhibits various works from artists Muhannad Shono, Ayman Zedani, Asma Belhamar, Sultan bin Fahad, Zimoun, Fuse, Katie Paterson, and Laurent Grasso.

Nawaf Al-Harbi, MAI’s acting strategy & development director, told Arab News that he hoped the exhibition could also be used as a platform for cultural exchange opportunities.

“The aim is to continue the conversations, to get artists, especially the international ones, to run some workshops and master classes, so it's also part of the connection,” 

The exhibition runs until January 15, and is open to the public from 4 pm to 10 pm.


Italian designer Gaia Repossi to join Fashion Trust Arabia’s 2022 advisory board

Italian designer Gaia Repossi to join Fashion Trust Arabia’s 2022 advisory board
Updated 05 October 2022

Italian designer Gaia Repossi to join Fashion Trust Arabia’s 2022 advisory board

Italian designer Gaia Repossi to join Fashion Trust Arabia’s 2022 advisory board

DUBAI: Gaia Repossi, the creative director of contemporary Italian jewelry brand Repossi, has been appointed as a member of Fashion Trust Arabia’s 2022 advisory board.

Fashion Trust Arabia was established in 2018 as a prize to support up-and-coming fashion designers from the Middle East and North Africa region. The organization’s mission is to support local creatives by providing them with global opportunities and by creating a network in which they can participate in important conversations and the exchange of ideas.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by GAIA repossi (@gaiarepossi)

The advisory board is responsible for selecting 24 finalists who will then get the chance to showcase their work before the jury. The ceremony itself will take place during the week of Oct. 24, 2022 through a series of local activations in Doha, Qatar.

"The Turin-born,cult-favorite jewelry designer was a natural fit for the FTA advisory board, who assumed her role at the family business at the young age of 21 and has helped turn Repossi into a brand beloved for its luxe minimalism and contemporary aesthetic. Gaia’s extensive involvement and networks in the world of fashion make her the perfect member to provide expertise and guidance for the up-and-coming regional talents in the competition (sic)," read a released statement.


Miss Universe Bahrain Evlin Khalifa to open Arab Fashion Week

Miss Universe Bahrain Evlin Khalifa to open Arab Fashion Week
Updated 05 October 2022

Miss Universe Bahrain Evlin Khalifa to open Arab Fashion Week

Miss Universe Bahrain Evlin Khalifa to open Arab Fashion Week
  • Evlin Khalifa will walk the runway for celebrity-loved brand  Amato by Furne One.

DUBAI: The newly crowned Miss Universe Bahrain, Evlin Khalifa, will be the official show opener for the new season of Arab Fashion Week in Dubai on Oct. 11.

The 24-year-old pianist and model from Riffa, who won the beauty pageant last month, will open the premiere show of the Couture Fall-Winter 22/23 season, which will be staged by Dubai-based brand Amato by Furne One.

Amato has been worn by many international celebrities over the years, including Beyonce, Katy Perry, Tyra Banks and Shakira.

“I am so thrilled to be a part of this fabulous show. It has always been my dream to walk on the runway of Arab Fashion Week and now that dream will finally come to life. This is even more special as I will be walking for the world-renowned fashion designer to the royalties and stars, Furne Amato of Amato Couture.” said Khalifa in a released statement.

“This whole journey of Miss Universe has been incredible so far and I cannot wait to see you all as we have been preparing to represent the Gulf region on the global stage of Miss Universe,” she added.


Gigi Hadid wades into fashion week bullying row

Gigi Hadid wades into fashion week bullying row
Updated 05 October 2022

Gigi Hadid wades into fashion week bullying row

Gigi Hadid wades into fashion week bullying row

DUBAI: US rapper Kanye West sparked controversy at Paris Fashion Week by wearing a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt at his runway show — and now US Palestinian Dutch model Gigi Hadid is wading into the ensuing debate.

The model made a statement via Instagram Stories showing support for Vogue US fashion editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, who slammed West over his choice of attire.

Karefa-Johnson shared her thoughts on social media following the rapper’s show.

Kanye West at Paris Fashion Week. (AFP)

“It didn’t land and it was deeply offensive, violent, and dangerous,” she wrote in a series of IG story slides that featured screenshots of her conversation with someone else about Kanye’s shirt. “The idea that white supremacy is in danger of extinction is what justifies mass incarceration, murder en masse, indeed the advent of slavery,” she added.

In true Kanye style, the rapper reacted with an online attack on Karefa-Johnson and posted pictures of her, shared a screenshot of her Instagram account and critiqued her fashion choices in a series of potshots aimed at the editor.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Gigi Hadid (@gigihadid)

But models are showing support for Karefa-Johnson, with the likes of Hadid and Hailey Bieber voicing their concerns over West’s reaction.

 ”As if the ‘honor’ of being invited to your show should keep someone from giving their opinion? Lol. You’re a bully and a joke (sic),” Hadid wrote.

“You wish you had a percentage of her intellect… If there’s actually a point to any of your s***, she might be the only person that could save you,” the model added, referring to West’s new sartorial offerings.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Vogue (@voguemagazine)

Vogue US also released a statement in support of Karefa-Johnson.

“She was personally targeted and bullied. It is unacceptable. Now more than ever, voices like hers are needed and in a private meeting with Ye today she once again spoke her truth in a way she felt best, on her terms,” the magazine posted on Instagram, referring to West by his legal name, Ye.

For her part, Bieber wrote “my respect for you runs deep my friend!” in a comment on Karefa-Johnson’s Instagram account.

Meanwhile, Karefa-Johnson shared an updated statement following the online furor, saying “there is no excuse, there is no art here. I’m sorry I failed to make that clear — I thought I did… I do think if you asked Kanye, he’d say there was art, and revolution, and all of the things in that T-shirt. There isn’t.”