UAE-based artists address the future of food

UAE-based artists address the future of food
Courtesy of Tashkeel
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Updated 05 May 2022

UAE-based artists address the future of food

UAE-based artists address the future of food

DUBAI: Tashkeel — the UAE-based art platform — hosted its annual open-call exhibition through March and April. This year’s theme was “The Philosophy of Food,” which Tashkeel called “of timely relevance to society and the world in which we live.” 

Like much of the GCC, the UAE imports the vast majority of its food. Thus, the exhibition brochure stated: “A monumental shift is required in the way we approach food; how we source it, prepare and consume it… Today’s sustainable food movement is global. Unled yet inspirational, it requires us to be more reflective on food, our values and choices, living by principles based on the importance of science, the recognition of restriction and the need for wholesome sustenance.”

Tashkeel invited artists and designers in the UAE to submit works exploring issues around the philosophy of food. Here are some of the highlights.

‘Red Pill’

Abir Tabbarah




Abir Tabbarah, Red Pill (2022). Supplied

Born in Italy, Tabbarah now lives in Abu Dhabi. This work, according to the show brochure, “explores the future of food and the epitome of fast food — a pill with all the nutritional content of the recommended dietary allowance.” This is not so far-fetched an idea as it might have seemed 20 years ago. But while such pills might fulfil humanity’s physical needs and greatly reduce the environmental impact of food production, Tabbarah’s work also raises the questions of what such a diet would mean for our social lives and mental wellbeing. 

‘Eating with a Ghost’

Aya Afaneh




Aya Afaneh, Eating with a Ghost (2022). Supplied

The Palestinian artist, writer and performer was a natural fit for this particular exhibition; she is already working on a collection of recipes, stories and poetry dedicated to her late grandmother. Her contribution to Tashkeel’s exhibition was this video performance — “a conversation between the artist and her grandmother, in spirit” — which asks the question: “What happens to food and tradition when the people that pass it down are gone?” In the video, Afaneh prepares and eats kousa, a stuffed zucchini dish — exhibiting the kind of inherited knowledge that is “crucial for extending the lifespan of cultures and unspoken traditions.”

‘Supper’

Debjani Bhardwaj & Mohammed Al-Attar




Debjani Bhardwaj & Mohammed Al-Attar, Supper (2022). Supplied

Bhardwaj works primarily with papercut and ceramic art, while Al-Attar is focused on digital art. The two teamed up for “The Philosophy of Food,” producing this humorous but thought-provoking work that “depicts a macabre role reversal as a statement of factory farming.” A group of commonly consumed animals feed on humans, reminding the viewer “to think about these creatures as sentient beings, many of whom endure horrible lives and deaths…”

‘Land and Children 1’

Hoda Gharib




Hoda Gharib, Land and Children 1. Supplied

This piece is from the Egyptian artist’s “Land and Children” series of Chinese ink drawings on cotton paper. It is inspired, according to the show catalogue, by her “poetic-visual vision of man’s close connection with the land…” It continued: “The contrast and diversity of the visual image, particularly in the shaded gradations between black and white, evoke the enduring spirit needed to face the current challenges and the spirit of hope for the future.”

‘The Beauty Within 3’

Mahima Aswani




Mahima Aswani, The Beauty Within 3. Supplied

Although Aswani is primarily an artist and designer, for this show she contributed a series of images of tomatoes which addressed the issue of “perfect versus imperfect food.” “In today’s consumer-led retail, imperfect food items constitute around 40 percent of food waste,” the catalogue explained. “Beauty can be found in nutritional value, and not in external appearance.” This final image — a mix of ‘perfect’ and ‘imperfect’ tomatoes — “encourages the viewer to celebrate the beauty within.” 

 


Italian photographer’s ‘The Kid of Mosul’ wins top prize at iPhone Awards

Italian photographer’s ‘The Kid of Mosul’ wins top prize at iPhone Awards
Updated 39 min 11 sec ago

Italian photographer’s ‘The Kid of Mosul’ wins top prize at iPhone Awards

Italian photographer’s ‘The Kid of Mosul’ wins top prize at iPhone Awards

DUBAI: The iPhone Photography Awards (IPPAWARDS) has announced the winners of its 15th annual edition, with Italy's Antonio Denti taking this year's Grand Prize for his pensive image, “The Kid of Mosul.”

“Chosen from thousands of submissions from all over the world, many of this year’s winning shots depict beauty rising out of isolation and honor photography’s ability to build bridges across lost connections,” read an announcement on the official website.

Denti received the Photographer of the Year Award for his photo depicting a soldier cupping the face of a young boy in his hands, which the organization described as “a moment of tenderness in the dusty rubble of war.”

‘Old Soul’ by Egyptian artist Reem Borhanwon third place in the Still Life category. (IPPAWARDS)

From the region, Egypt's Reem Borhan won third place in the Still Life category with her photo titled “Old Soul.”

Meanwhile, the First Place Photographer of the Year Award went to Rachel Sela of Sweden for her image, “Anti-Social Distancing,” which turns masking up into an act of theater.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by IPPAWARDS (@ippawards)

Kelley Dallas of the US won Second Place for his image “Girl with the Violin.” And Third Place went to Glenn Homann of Australia for his photo, “Wasted.”

Kelley Dallas of the US won Second Place for his image ‘Girl with the Violin.’ (IPPAWARDS)

Top-three winners in an additional 16 categories were awarded to photographers from almost every corner of the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, San Marino, Poland, United Kingdom, United States.


UAE-born actress Yasmine Al-Bustami ‘proud’ to be Arab as she stars in ‘NCIS’ spin-off

UAE-born actress Yasmine Al-Bustami ‘proud’ to be Arab as she stars in ‘NCIS’ spin-off
Updated 27 sec ago

UAE-born actress Yasmine Al-Bustami ‘proud’ to be Arab as she stars in ‘NCIS’ spin-off

UAE-born actress Yasmine Al-Bustami ‘proud’ to be Arab as she stars in ‘NCIS’ spin-off
  • The star of ‘NCIS: Hawai’i’ struggled to embrace her roots as a child in Texas, but that’s all changed now

DUBAI: There are few television franchises as mammoth in reach and longevity as “NCIS.” For nearly 20 years, the crime series, which follows the US’s naval criminal investigative team, has brought in tens of millions of viewers a week, with new franchises regularly blossoming across the country. Now, in Yasmine Al-Bustami, “NCIS” has its first Arab star—and she’s already inspiring young girls across the world.

“I'm always taken aback whenever I find out that I've reached people,” Al-Bustami tells Arab News. “I didn’t really think about the capacity for something like this show to reach people all over the world. Now, I'm seeing these responses all the time, I’m getting messages constantly. When I finally sit down, take some time to read them and take them in, it can be overwhelming. I see that people are taking notice, feel represented and feel seen, and suddenly I know for sure that I can contribute to that in some way. And I’m so grateful for the people who like it."

Yasmine Al-Bustami on the set of ‘NCIS: Hawai’i.’ (Supplied)

Al-Bustami — who plays Agent Lucy Tara on “NCIS: Hawai’i,” the second season of which begins in September and will air on Starzplay in the Middle East — was born in Abu Dhabi to a Palestinian-Jordanian father and Filipina mother, but moved to Texas at a young age. There, she struggled to embrace her identity, surrounded by people who didn’t understand her heritage, and had never heard of the place on the other side of the world that she came from. 

To fit in, she did what a lot of people in a position where there are no strong role models in pop culture to anchor their identity to — she buried her identity inside her.

“In Texas, I didn't personally grow up with a bunch of Arabs around me. We had some Arab families that we knew that were in school with us, and they all kind of flocked together, once they find out that they were also Arabs. I would hang out with them, but (there weren’t) a lot, really. I tried very hard to fit in with the majority white folks at our school, and tried really hard to just fit in and just be a white person. Whatever that means,” Al-Bustami says. 

Vanessa Lachey as Jane Tennant, Tori Anderson as Kate Whistler and Yasmine Al-Bustami as Lucy Tara in ‘NCIS: Hawai’i.’ (Supplied)

That led to turmoil at home, as her Arab father worked to instill in his daughter the cultural and religious values that he held so dear, knowing that he was the only strong influence in her life that would do so. It was a mission she rebelled against. 

“Whenever I would approach my dad with the things that I wanted to do, that my friends who were not Arab were doing, we would butt heads. He’s very big on culture, very old-school, and  would just not allow me to do some things. He was just trying to teach us about or faith and our culture,” Al-Bustami says. 

When Al-Bustami went to her father to tell him she wanted to be an actor, he was against the idea, which pushed them even further apart.

“When I expressed to him that I wanted to act, that was something that became a point of contention between us — depending on the project and the role. Honestly, it still is sometimes. That all led me, at the beginning of my career, to not wanting to embrace my identity,” says Al-Bustami.

 

 

Ironically, even as she tried to escape who she was and where she came from, it was acting that brought her closer to her identity. 

“It was only through storytelling and being thrown into stories where I was forced to embrace it because of how I look and because of the opportunities that were given to me,” she says.

But as she got to know other Arab actors, she also started to learn the boundless beauty that her heritage contained, and the amazing stories and true adversity that her colleagues had endured to get to where they are today.

 

 

“The roles I started playing were stories of Arabs and Arab-Americans being surrounded by other Arabs and Arab-Americans. The other actors were so proud, and they taught me so much as I heard their stories and their journeys. It was that motivation that I felt like I needed — that I didn't have growing up. It pushed me to want to learn more. And thankfully, now I’ve built up a strong place in that community, especially in the acting world,” says Al-Bustami.

That love for who she was grew even stronger when she saw how much it meant to people, and when she witnessed what she could accomplish when she wasn’t trying to fit in with the majority, and instead embraced her differences.

“It’s been such a journey. I don't think I’ve ever been prouder to be Arab,” she says. “I now understand how important representation is, and without the ups and downs I’ve been through, I don't think I would have understood that to the depth that I do.

“It’s made me want to learn more about my heritage and my culture and just be more openly proud,” she continues. “I feel like I'm not doing it alone. I feel like there's so many people who are also helping me do it. And it's all Arabs, and Arab-Americans. All of that truly inspires me.”

Most importantly, she’s also learned about diversity within the Arab experience, and as representation increases in Hollywood, the world can see that being Arab means many different things, both in America and across the world. And that there are an endless number of stories to tell.

“The important thing is to make people open-minded, and stop them from being closed-off in terms of understanding the different kinds of stories that I think are important to tell in the Arab world and the Arab-American world. That's helped me so much,’ says Al-Bustami.

Yasmine Al-Butsami (left) in ‘I Ship It.’ (Supplied)

On “NCIS: Hawaii,” Al-Bustami is pushing herself like never before. While her breakout roles in “The Originals” and “I Ship It” prepared her for the grind of weekly television, the stunts and physicality of her current role require intense training and choreography, something she’s worked hard at and is proud of what she’s accomplished, especially in the fight scenes.

More than anything, though, what she’s happiest about are the relationships she’s built on set, and the found family that has made her breakout moment something she can truly be proud of on every level.

“It makes such a big difference when you really enjoy the people. Thankfully, the people that I'm surrounded with every day are amazing. They make it super fulfilling in so many more ways than just work,” she says. “This is such an enjoyable experience for me, and I can’t wait to continue that, and keep trying to make the Arab community proud across the country, and world.”


Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan thanks Mideast fans while promoting adaption of Hollywood’s ‘Forrest Gump’ 

Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan thanks Mideast fans while promoting adaption of Hollywood’s ‘Forrest Gump’ 
Updated 2 min 57 sec ago

Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan thanks Mideast fans while promoting adaption of Hollywood’s ‘Forrest Gump’ 

Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan thanks Mideast fans while promoting adaption of Hollywood’s ‘Forrest Gump’ 

LOS ANGELES: Bollywood star and producer Aamir Khan spoke about India’s connection with the Middle East while promoting his latest film, “Laal Singh Chaddha,” which was released on Thursday in the region. 

The movie, which is an adaption of the Hollywood classic “Forrest Gump,” tells the story of Laal, a purehearted and intellectually disabled man who lives through pivotal moments in India’s history.

Despite making the film for Indian audiences, Aamir told Arab News that he is glad to see viewers from far and wide gravitating toward it, including those in the Arab world.

“I think Indians have a closer emotional key to the Arab world and to the Middle East,” he said. “I would like to tell all my fans across the Middle East that I want to thank them for all the love they've always given me and my work.”

The actor said: “If someone had asked me: ‘would you like to do “Forrest Gump?”’ I would have thought he was joking.”

The film reinterprets “Forrest Gump’s” iconic moments to reflect Indian culture, including exchanging the box of chocolates on the bus stop for gol gappe during a train ride.

“It kind of spans 50 years,” Khan told Arab News. “So you have the characters in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and then in 2000.  And so every department, whether it's the production design, whether it's the look of the film, the costumes, everything has to change according to that time.” 

“So it's a very preparation-heavy film and really a challenging film, but great fun to do as well,” he added.

The film stars Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor, who plays the role of Chaddha’s childhood love. 

The film also sees superstar Shah Rukh Khan in a cameo appearance. 


Dubai exhibition highlights Palestinian artist Rana Samara’s latest work

Dubai exhibition highlights Palestinian artist Rana Samara’s latest work
Updated 11 August 2022

Dubai exhibition highlights Palestinian artist Rana Samara’s latest work

Dubai exhibition highlights Palestinian artist Rana Samara’s latest work
  • Rana Samara’s ‘Inner Sanctuary’ runs until August 28 at Dubai’s Zawyeh Gallery

DUBAI: From drawings of empty rooms to presenting human figures, Palestinian artist Rana Samara’s “Inner Sanctuary,” which runs until Aug. 28 at Dubai’s Zawyeh Gallery, focuses on the artist’s conception of her own intimate space from an emotional perspective.

‘Untitled 2’

Jerusalem-born artist Rana Samara’s latest show “portrays an inner sanctuary visually and sentimentally,” critic and journalist Rana Anani writes in the exhibition brochure. Not all the images are comforting though. This painting of a hospital bed, Anani points out, “bears an unsettling feeling.” “The scattered red tubes on the surface of the colorful floors reflect commotion as if there was an emergency scene,” she writes.

‘Untitled 44’

“Samara uses colors, motifs, and shapes to convey her sentiments showing her content, calmness, anxiety, or frustration,” Anani explains. It’s surprising just how much emotion Samara packs into these empty rooms. This bedroom, with peacock features in the background, for example, “gives a feeling of lightness, weightlessness, and a connection with the skies.”

‘Untitled 43’

This is one of the rare occasions that Samara’s work includes a human figure — this contemplative woman. Her usual omission of humans, Anani suggests, “could be a way to capture moments that people leave behind” or “an attempt at emancipation from the restraints imposed by their presence and an opportunity to reveal concealed feelings, whether joyful or gloomy.”  


Madinah art community Thalothya supports Saudi Arabia-based artists

Madinah art community Thalothya supports Saudi Arabia-based artists
Updated 11 August 2022

Madinah art community Thalothya supports Saudi Arabia-based artists

Madinah art community Thalothya supports Saudi Arabia-based artists
  • Artist Meshal Al-Hujaili launched a community project of talks called Thalothya to support artists by educating them on other parts of their careers
  • Al-Hujaili began his journey in the art world at a young age by drawing graffiti before taking another direction

RIYADH: The artist’s main focus is on the aesthetic aspect of life, leaving material concerns behind, leaving many artists struggling to understand the economic world, sparking confusion over pricing their paintings and profiting from their talents.

This was one of the reasons that artist Meshal Al-Hujaili was inspired to launch a community project of talks called “Thalothya” to support artists by educating them on more parts of their careers.

Thalothya emerged as an artistic community concerned with spreading artistic culture, enhancing the creative side of the artists, and exchanging experiences.

Their goal is to create a healthy artistic environment in which practitioners find support and expertise to develop their art. The sessions are held once a month in Madinah.

The group also organizes monthly dialogue sessions, regular presentations on the artists’ latest works, online interviews with an eclectic range of influential artists, and discussions on the journey that each artist took and its impact on their craft.

“Thalothya started in an informal way between me and my artist friends, and I decided to set up a meeting to discuss art. Then I was surprised that the topic started to spread among artists and that a large number wanted to attend courses. The news spread in the city. We started with 15 people, and the last session was attended by 60 artists,” Al-Hujaili told Arab News.

Al-Hujaili said that because of the crowds of people who wanted to attend the event, the sessions were moved from a cafe to art galleries in Madinah, where there are halls to accommodate 200 people in the session.

“Many people want to join the discussion circles, which is why I refuse the requests of many cafes and places that want to host us because I know that the place will not accommodate us,” said Al-Hujaili, adding: “Thalothya created an artistic revolution in Madinah.”

He said: “The topics we raise are not purely artistic, so we talk about the legal aspect of art, and 90 percent of artists do not know how to legally preserve their works or price their works. We help them to dialogue and talk in a safe space and host different topics each time. 

“For example, we once discussed the subject of ‘art block’ during our research, and we found a definition that is completely different from what we thought, and we present a new aspect that focuses on the topic of marketing and the problems that the artist goes through, why an artist appears and becomes famous suddenly, and then he is isolated and disappears.”

Al-Hujaili’s paintings are distinguished by geometric formations. He began his journey in the art world at a young age by drawing graffiti before taking another direction.

“I started my graffiti from primary to secondary school, and I drew graffiti, then art took a new curve. For six years, I only drew straight lines and worked on drawing geometric shapes, and the result was special, as I was unique in my art, in which I put my fingerprint. I was requested to paint a mural at the Arab Open University in Madinah,” he said.

The dialogues were not limited to male artists, with women making up a large share of the discussion.

Basma Al-Bloshi, a portrait artist, said: “What distinguishes Thalothya is that it cares about the artist’s aspects, both psychologically and practically, and we discuss the things that develop the artist.”

She continued: “The idea of Thalothya is to educate the artist about other aspects of art. One of our goals is to spread Thakothya throughout the Kingdom.”