Central Asian artists step into the spotlight

Central Asian artists step into the spotlight
Dilyara Kaipova with her ikat fabric. (Supplied)
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Updated 26 May 2022

Central Asian artists step into the spotlight

Central Asian artists step into the spotlight
  • ‘Totems of Central Asia’ — a new exhibition in Dubai — shows how ‘we are all connected through globalization and migration’

DUBAI: Three Central Asian artists reflect on issues of globalization and identity through the intersection of ancient mythologies, regional rituals and modern symbols at a new exhibition, “Totems of Central Asia,” at the Foundry in Downtown Dubai.

Traditional ikat fabric, nomadic games on horseback and a 15th-century astronomer from Samarkand take center stage in this exhibition of works (including NFTs) by Almagul Menlibayeva and Said Atabekov from Kazakhstan and Dilyara Kaipova from Uzbekistan. The show runs until June 11.

While Kaipova takes traditional Uzbek ikat textiles and turns them into contemporary art objects, Atabekov uses photography to depict Kokpar — an ancient game from the legendary steppes — with players sporting new-age logos on their jackets.  Menlibayeva’s prints on silk take inspiration from the famous scientist and astronomer Ulugh Beg as a powerful metaphor to bring attention to environment challenges in her country.




From the series Steppenwolves (ADIDAS), Said Atabekov. (Supplied)

“Central Asia is a unique geopolitical and cultural region, heir to ancient civilizations and the fabled Silk Road. It was mainly excluded from the international context during much of the 20th century. Through this exhibition, I hope visitors will get a better glimpse of this rich region. (The) artists show how we are all connected through globalization and migration,” curator Natalya Andakulova, founder of Dubai’s Andakulova Gallery, tells Arab News.

The title of the exhibition refers to the concept of the totem as a spiritual being, with a life of its own, considered sacred in ancient societies.

“In ‘Totems of Central Asia,’ we are showcasing issues of the preservation of national traditions while adapting to the new world,” says Andakulova.




“Scream Red” by Dilyara. (Supplied)

Atabekov’s “Wolves of the Steppes” series of mostly black-and-white images (only the logo-emblazoned jackets of the Kokpar riders are in color), for instance, shows how globalization has infiltrated even the nomadic way of life.

Kokpar is a traditional sport played by nomads in Central Asia as a sacred ritual. Horseback riders fight for a goat carcass across the undulating green steppes in scenes that can resemble a battle more than a game.

“These are not staged photographs. Here, the players wear what they have and what they like. Through this game I observe what is happening around us — competition, high cost, military conflicts. In this space, we see how every speck of dust wants to find a place under the sun,” the 57-year-old photographer says.




Capsula Ulugh Beg, Almagul Menlibayeva. (Supplied)

Atabekov lives in Shymkent, Kazakhstan. His photographs have won international recognition for their blend of ethnographic signs, recollections of the Russian avant-garde, and post-Soviet globalism.

Visual artist Menlibayeva’s series of prints on silk are made up of stills taken from a video installation she created for the Lahore Biennial, 2020. They are abstract works in which the artist refers to the Uzbek astronomer, mathematician and ruler Ulugh Beg, who built one of the finest space observatories in Samarkand.

“I wanted to show how we perceive space now, at a time when there is increasing space debris,” she says. “It was also an attempt to present Central Asia through my eyes in a global context looking at science and technology from a local and historical (point of view).”




From the series Steppenwolf (FERRARI), 2014. (Supplied)

She expands on these themes with her photography prints, which focus on ecological blunders caused by economic development, focusing especially on the Aral Sea in Central Asia, the site of one of the worst environmental disasters in history. Once the fourth-largest lake in the world, it had completely dried up by 2014, although ongoing efforts in Kazakhstan have revived it somewhat since.

Menlibayeva’s photographs show a derelict part of the Transoxiana region. Centaur-like female figures appear as a mirage in the barren desert. It is an attempt, she says, to alternate between dream and reality, and to show her homeland finding its place between the past and the present.

Born in Tashkent, Kaipova, 55, has spent much of her working life combining ikat textiles with contemporary motifs in an attempt to preserve Uzbek culture.

In her handcrafted traditional ikat fabric designs, well-known brand logos and pop-culture icons represent modern totems. “Ghost Face,” the killer from Hollywood’s ‘Scream’ franchise, features on one of her robes. Other creations feature Mickey Mouse and Darth Vader, mixing elements from the East and the West, symbolizing elitism and mass media.

“I create the sketches and craftsmen from the Ferghana valley, in the city of Margilan, Uzbekistan, make the handmade robes,” Kaipova says. “By including modern, recognizable signs and logos, I have tried to create a different view of the world through the optics of today, the view of a person living here and now. I always hope the audience is interested in the clash of archaic and modern.”


Model Shanina Shaik kicks off wedding season in style

Model Shanina Shaik has starred in a number of fashion campaigns. (File/ Getty Images)
Model Shanina Shaik has starred in a number of fashion campaigns. (File/ Getty Images)
Updated 03 July 2022

Model Shanina Shaik kicks off wedding season in style

Model Shanina Shaik has starred in a number of fashion campaigns. (File/ Getty Images)

DUBAI: Part-Saudi model Shanina Shaik kicked off wedding season in style by attending the nuptials of fellow Victoria’s Secret model Nadine Leopold and tech entrepreneur Andrew Barclay.

The pair tied the knot at an undisclosed location and while Shaik respected the couple’s privacy and did not post shots of the wedding, she did take to Instagram to show off her wedding attire and shared a short video of fireworks at the reception.

Shaik opted for a cream-colored silk shirt that grazed her baby bump and captioned the photo of her outfit, which she shared on Instagram Stories, “bestie’s wedding.”

The growing baby bump is not news to Shaik’s 2.9 million Instagram followers, who learned of her pregnancy in May.

The catwalk star took to Instagram on Mother’s Day to share the happy news followers, posting three images of her bump with an extended caption in the form of a letter.

“To the new love of my life, thank you for choosing me to be your Mum. I have always wanted you for as long as I can remember, and at times my patience was tested. The timing had to be right, and I can say with confidence that I am ready to be your guide, your protector and your best friend,” she said.

The 31-year-old model, who is of Saudi, Pakistani, Lithuanian and Australian descent, is expecting the baby with her partner Matthew Adesuyan, the head of a record label in Los Angeles.

“As each month goes by during this precious journey of pregnancy, I am learning what the role of being a mother entails. I worry a lot, especially about your wellbeing and development. It’s a feeling that I’ve never experienced before, not even about myself. I would do anything for you, be anything for you and sacrifice anything for you,” she added.

She praised her own mother mentioning that she was raised by an “amazing woman” who taught her a lot about motherhood. “She has set the bar high and I don’t want to disappoint you. I want to raise you as she raised me.”

The mom-to-be ended the lengthy caption saying: “Sharing you with the world today is the most precious gift I could possibly receive on Mother’s Day. Mummy and Daddy can’t wait to meet you!”

Since sharing the news, Shaik has treated fans to regular updates about her pregnancy, including a post late last week that she captioned “baby kicked,” as well as her prenatal stretching tips and skincare routine.


UN report with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture spotlights pandemic’s effect on arts scene

The report’s findings were unveiled in Abu Dhabi. (Supplied)
The report’s findings were unveiled in Abu Dhabi. (Supplied)
Updated 03 July 2022

UN report with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture spotlights pandemic’s effect on arts scene

The report’s findings were unveiled in Abu Dhabi. (Supplied)

DUBAI: While lockdowns, postponements and cancellations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic seem largely in the past, the socio-economic upheaval is still being reckoned with — and the international arts and culture scene is just one of many sectors that has been left reeling.

A new report released by UNESCO in partnership with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism (DTC), titled “Culture in Times of COVID-19 Resilience, Recovery and Revival,” explores the major global trends that have reshaped the cultural sector due to COVID-19 and provides solutions for its revival.

Research for the report began in September 2021 when the DCT partnered with UNESCO to publish the first global assessment of the impact of COVID-19 across all cultural domains since the advent of the pandemic.

The findings were released during an event late last week in Abu Dhabi where both the DCT’s Chairman Mohamed Al-Mubarak and Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, UNESCO assistant director general, were present.

“Lockdowns experienced by many countries destroyed jobs and business in the culture sector,” Ramirez told Arab News. “This had a severe impact on the sector with more than 10 million jobs lost in 2020 alone and a 20 to 40 percent drop in revenues across the sector.”

Venue-based activities such as theaters and museums — as well as World Heritage sites — were hit hard.

“UNESCO reported that about 90 percent of museums and cultural institutions closed worldwide and about 90 percent of countries saw their World Heritage sites fully or partially closed in 2020,” he added.

“Many artists and cultural professionals have lost their livelihoods; pre-existing inequities have been deepened — including for women and girls — further amplifying social and   economic insecurities. These impacts have brought leading decision-makers and cultural professionals to further rely on the social and economic role of culture as a road to recovery,” stated the report.

Cultural and creative industries, as well as artists, also suffered greatly, emphasized Ramirez and the report. “The estimate is that in 2020 there was a $750bn contraction in the Gross Value Added generated by the cultural and creative industries globally, relative to 2019,” he told Arab News. “We need strong policies that support these industries and the artists. Artists and cultural professionals should not only be adequately recognized henceforth but appropriately credited for their work and contribution.”

Recognizing the importance of museums, cultural institutions and heritage sites is also vital. 

“They not only preserve heritage but offer equal access to culture and provide vital education, social inclusion, cultural diversity and well-being,” said Ramirez.

While the culture sector is beginning to recover, what the pandemic has taught those in the field is that it cannot move forward in today’s world without developing and sustaining a collective ecosystem.

“This includes data-driven policies, inter and intra-sectoral collaboration, economic investment, infrastructure, regulations, socio-economic support and capacity-building,” explained Ramirez.

Crucially, he emphasized, “if we are to preserve our culture, we must ensure the continuity of its creation by supporting artists and professionals in adapting to a changing world; providing equal access and opportunities across the cultural value chain; ensuring social protection and fair retribution for all; harnessing technological change to support innovation and facilitate a diversity of cultural expressions.”

The cultural sector, even in its weakened state, caused many to question what they value and prioritize. Culture in that light is often a source of comfort, connection and beauty for many. Take it away and we lose a vital part of our wellbeing and our communication with others.


US actress Lindsay Lohan calls Arab fiance ‘husband’ in surprise Instagram post

US actress Lindsay Lohan calls Arab fiance ‘husband’ in surprise Instagram post
Updated 03 July 2022

US actress Lindsay Lohan calls Arab fiance ‘husband’ in surprise Instagram post

US actress Lindsay Lohan calls Arab fiance ‘husband’ in surprise Instagram post

DUBAI: US actress Lindsay Lohan this week called her fiance Bader Shammas her “husband” in a heartfelt message she shared on Instagram, sparking speculation that the pair have married in secret. Fans flooded the stars account to find out more about the famously private Shammas — read on to find out just who the lucky man is.

The “Mean Girls” star, who is based in Dubai, shared a picture of her and Shammas, a financier, with her 10.9 million followers and wrote: “I am the luckiest woman in the world. You found me and knew that I wanted to find happiness and grace, all at the same time. I am stunned that you are my husband. My life and my everything. Every woman should feel like this every day,” the singer and songwriter wrote. 

Shammas, whose Instagram is on private mode, is a financier who previously worked as an associate at BNP Paribas Wealth Management up until 2017, according to Elle magazine. Educated in the US, he reportedly holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of South Florida and a Bachelor of Science in Finance degree from John H. Sykes College of Business, which is connected with the University of Tampa.

 

 

The Hollywood star announced her engagement in November, posting a series of snaps that showed off her diamond engagement ring.

Lohan and Shammas were first spotted together at a music festival in Dubai shortly before the pandemic hit in 2020.

In May 2020, Lohan’s mother, Dina Lohan, spoke about Shammas, saying: “Lindsay is dating a wonderful guy right now, but that’s neither here nor there. When she’s ready to talk about her personal life, she will.”

 

 

 


Actress Naomie Harris shows off pink gown by Tony Ward at grand prix ball

Actress Naomie Harris shows off pink gown by Tony Ward at grand prix ball
Updated 02 July 2022

Actress Naomie Harris shows off pink gown by Tony Ward at grand prix ball

Actress Naomie Harris shows off pink gown by Tony Ward at grand prix ball

DUBAI: British actress Naomie Harris this week stepped out in a hot pink gown by Lebanese-Italian fashion designer Tony Ward at London’s Grand Prix Ball 2022.

The “Small Island” star turned heads in a one-shoulder chiffon draped dress that was tight at the waist with a subtle cut-out bust. It featured a long train and a thigh-high slit.

The ball is an annual charity gala held in the lead-up to the British Grand Prix in support of the charitable organization the Prince’s Trust.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by TONY WARD (@tonywardcouture)

For her jewelry, Harris, who started her career by appearing in the 1987 TV series “Simon and the Witch,” opted for sparkly Swarovski hoop earrings and a simple glitzy bracelet.

Her dark hair was styled in raven braids, and the actress kept her makeup simple with a neutral lip and blushed cheeks.

Ward’s clientele list includes Chrissy Teigen, Lori Harvey, Sharon Stone, Bella Thorne Naomi Campbell, who wear the designer’s pieces to events such as the Oscars, the Grammy and the Critics Choice Awards.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by TONY WARD (@tonywardcouture)

In May, Ward dressed a number of stars on the red carpet of the Cannes Film Festival, including  Indian actress Urvashi Rautela, US-Indian actress and social media star Liza Koshy, Danish model Josephine Skriver, US model Jasmine Tookes, German blogger Leonie Hanne, US-Somali actress Sabrina Dhowre Elba, Belgian model Rose Bertram and TikTok star Jessica Wang.

Last week, US singer and songwriter Mary J. Blige wore a two-piece white gown by the part-Arab designer to the BET awards in Los Angeles.

The couturier, who has worked with such high-profile designers as Gianfranco Ferre for Dior and the late Karl Lagerfeld for Chloe, will unveil its fall/winter 2023 collection during Paris Haute Couture Week on July 4.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by TONY WARD (@tonywardcouture)

Meanwhile, Harris’ most recent work is “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” She stars in the sci-fi show, released in April, alongside actors Chiwetel Ejiofar, Sonya Cassidy and Jimmi Simpson.

Harris, whose father is from Trinidad and mother from Jamaica, has won multiple honors from the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, Hollywood Film Awards, and the Independent Spirit Awards.

In 2017, she was nominated for best performance by an actress in a supporting role award in the 2017 Oscars for her part in “Moonlight.”


Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram teases collaboration with US DJ Marshmello

Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram teases collaboration with US DJ Marshmello
Updated 02 July 2022

Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram teases collaboration with US DJ Marshmello

Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram teases collaboration with US DJ Marshmello

DUBAI: Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram this week teased an upcoming collaboration with US music producer Marshmello.

The superstar took to Instagram to share a picture of herself with the DJ, who was in his usual custom white helmet resembling a marshmello, in a recoding studio.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Nancy Ajram (@nancyajram)

Ajram captioned the post: “Sah Sah,” meaning “true true” in English. This hints that this could possibly be the title of the duo’s new song.

Marshmello shared a short clip on Instagram of him playing the stringed qanun instrument. His post was also captioned “Sah Sah.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by marshmello (@marshmello)

Ajram shared Marshmello’s reel and wrote to her 33 million followers: “Soon.”

Fans quickly responded to the stars’ posts and expressed their excitement for the new track.

“What a collab,” wrote one fan on Instagram, while another said: “Can’t wait!”