Youth takeover of Jameel Arts Center reflects mission to foster curatorial discourse in Gulf

Youth takeover of Jameel Arts Center reflects mission to foster curatorial discourse in Gulf
Raheed Allaf, Shoofeeni (2022). Supplied
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Updated 05 June 2022

Youth takeover of Jameel Arts Center reflects mission to foster curatorial discourse in Gulf

Youth takeover of Jameel Arts Center reflects mission to foster curatorial discourse in Gulf

DUBAI: The Jameel Arts Center in Dubai has surrendered itself to the creative power of the UAE’s youth in a bid to raise awareness of budding talent on the local scene.

Titled “The Youth Takeover,” the show, which wrapped up on Sunday, boasted 20 artworks by new talent that explored concepts of nostalgia and the inner child. Mediums included two- and three-dimensional illustrations, paintings, audiovisual works, performances, workshops and film screenings.

Of particular note were eight new commissions by artists and curators from the UAE, Egypt, Philippines, Pakistan, Palestine, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Chechnya.




Ibrahim, illustration, process images, commissioned by the Assembly 2021-22. Supplied

“Art Jameel has always had a particular focus on youth and developing homegrown talent from the ground up, and in innovative ways that complements and fills gaps between and around formal education,” Antonia Carver, director at Art Jameel, told Arab News. “Before opening the Jameel Arts Centre back in 2018, we knew we wanted to have young people at the heart of the institution, and to create a program that enabled us to listen to and learn from youth, and that gave these talented and driven young creatives real agency.”

Carver said Art Jameel plans to stage a similar event at the recently opened Hayy Jameel creative hub in Jeddah in the future.

Jameel’s third annual “The Youth Takeover” was titled “Smol” and dedicated to an exploration of the trials and tribulations of growing up, ideas of nostalgia and the inner child. It was curated by eight young creatives or Youth Assembly members — Alexis Javero, Anita Shishani, Farah Fawzi Ali, Lubnah Ansari, Raheed Allaf, Rashid Almheiri, Shama Nair and Sree — all under the age of 25 from across the UAE who were selected from several hundred applications and were led by independent curator and Assembly 2020 alumnus, Daniel H. Rey.




Khaled Esguerra, Abu Dha-Me (2022). Supplied

“Metaphorically and stylistically, ‘Smol’ is an opportunity to color outside the lines, bridging dreams with reality, while confronting constricting rules and rituals,” said the Assembly members in a joint statement.

In collaboration with the Art Jameel Learning team, Rey curated and facilitated a year-long learning program with the aim of nurturing and fostering artistic youth leadership.

Young artists raised in the Gulf were encouraged to examine questions regarding ideas of home, intergenerational histories, community building, dreams, language, and mental health.

“After multiple weeks of research in non-European languages, questions about the so-called Global South and the responsibilities of curators in our shared context, the Assembly received a key question: How does the youth practice society?” Rey told Arab News. “For exploring this question treating society as subject of inquiry, the Youth Assembly moved onto having self-led sessions discussing different urgencies — pressing themes with potential for a robust exploration through an exhibition.”

The Assembly visited and researched the Art Jameel Collection as well as the Dubai-based Endjavi-Barbé Art Collection, which focuses on young artists from inside and outside Iran.




Hypo mango, room-wide immersive illustrations, process images, commissioned by the Assembly 2021-22. Supplied

“The exposure to these collections gave a sense of direction to the thematic thinking, revealing to the Assembly that their questions, ideas and lived experiences could be grouped and explored through the lens of the inner child and the experience of feeling small,” said Rey.

“As curator-tutor of the program having worked with the Youth Assembly on this experience, it is fascinating to begin identifying that, while each human life is uncertain, we have all certainly had a childhood, regardless of how it played out. This childhood may well continue within our adult selves,” he added.

For example, artist Raheed Allaf from Saudi Arabia created “Shoofeeni,” a short experimental film installation in which she investigates a VHS tape from her third birthday prompting a conversation between the filmmaker and her younger self.

“To see myself, at three years old, proclaiming that I am a Barbie while looking at my reflection was very telling. I couldn’t help but think ‘wow, I’ve been living up to unrealistic standards since three?’” she told Arab News.

“I would think that would be too early an age to start feeling the crippling pressures of performing womanhood. So, I had the urge to dissect it, and create a work where I, in a way, have a conversation with my younger self — hoping to address self-reflection through literal reflections.”

Allaf’s film, like the theme of this year’s event, explored how the artist’s childhood and self-image building continues to affect her adulthood. The film is about the performance of womanhood but also poses questions, as media prompts us to do, about the identities of both performers and directors, and how these roles have often become interchangeable in today’s rapidly changing digital landscape.


REVIEW: ‘Five Days at Memorial’ replicates the horrors of Hurricane Katrina

REVIEW: ‘Five Days at Memorial’ replicates the horrors of Hurricane Katrina
Updated 39 sec ago

REVIEW: ‘Five Days at Memorial’ replicates the horrors of Hurricane Katrina

REVIEW: ‘Five Days at Memorial’ replicates the horrors of Hurricane Katrina

CHENNAI: Apple+ TV’s limited series “Five Days at Memorial” sets out to capture a natural calamity in its stark reality. Adapted from Sheri Fink’s “Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital,” a retelling of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in late 2005, the TV version is a brutal but compelling watch. It is brought out most poignantly in a scene where we see an elderly patient watching the raging storm from a window at the Memorial Medical Centre.

Created by John Ridley, writer of “12 Years a Slave,” and “Lost” showrunner Carlton Cuse, the series brings drama without overly exaggerating, along with a near-perfect recreation of the hospital that becomes a character in itself. Real footage is seamlessly woven into scenes, with the first five chapters devoted to the first five days of the catastrophic event that left 45 patients dead.

Dr Anna Pou is portrayed by the excellent Vera Farmiga, who puts in a powerful performance standing watching the hurricane batter the bridge between two segments of the facility. Then there is the nerve-wracking dilemma as a daughter (Raven Dauda) is forced to abandon her critically ill mother, nurse Diane Robichaux (Julie Ann Emery). A deep sense of heartrending misery and utter helplessness pervades just about every frame.

As “Five Days at Memorial” begins, we see local residents trooping inside the facility to join patients and staff — standard procedure, as the building had withstood many storms in its 80 years. But in this case, the hurricane smashed glass panes and wrenched chunks of iron, leaving little respite. The hurricane passes, but levees then collapse, flooding the city. With the problems mounting, the hospital’s incident commander, Susan Mulderick (Cherry Jones), discovers that the building’s bulky manual says nothing about evacuation protocols in case of floods. With elevators out of operation, doctors and others carry patients to the rooftop helipad.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The last few episodes focus on the investigation into the controversial decision to euthanize terminally-ill patients, and explore the meaning of care and compassion. But what stands out is the failure of the administration, the Federal Management Agency, and all those who had the power to intervene to avoid the disaster.


US artist Grimanesa Amorós to present light installation in Riyadh 

US artist Grimanesa Amorós to present light installation in Riyadh 
Updated 16 August 2022

US artist Grimanesa Amorós to present light installation in Riyadh 

US artist Grimanesa Amorós to present light installation in Riyadh 

DUBAI: US artist Grimanesa Amorós, famous as the Light Sculptor, is bringing her work to Riyadh. 

The Peruvian-born visual artist will present her latest monumental art installation titled “Scientia” in the Diplomatic Quarter Cultural Palace at the Noor Riyadh festival from Nov. 3 to 19.

The installation is titled ‘Scientia.’ (Supplied)

The installation addresses fundamental questions about the impact of a rapidly shifting environment on the mental, psychological and emotional well-being of individuals living in fast-paced, modern societies.

Her light sculpture was previously showcased at the Azkuna Zentroa Center of Society and Contemporary Culture in Bilbao, Spain.

Amorós, famous for her large-scale light sculpture installations, explores human emotions and connections to the social environment using an elemental understanding of the world involving nature’s basic elements: fire, water, earth and light.

The artist has exhibited her work in multiple locations around the world including Mexico, Beijing and New York City.


Finance for new Saudi filmmakers announced by Red Sea Fund

Finance for new Saudi filmmakers announced by Red Sea Fund
Updated 16 August 2022

Finance for new Saudi filmmakers announced by Red Sea Fund

Finance for new Saudi filmmakers announced by Red Sea Fund
  • Winning ‘Lithium’ movie tackles bipolar disorder
  • Over $100,000 set aside for 23 individual MENA projects

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s support for the film industry continues with the Red Sea Fund’s announcement of its second-cycle winners, which will mean financial resources to bring their projects to fruition.

The fund, administered by the Red Sea Film Foundation, has allocated about $100,000 for 23 individual projects that will cover production, distribution and screening.

The aim is to provide a more diverse set of movies to global audiences and better serve both Saudi and Arab filmmakers.

“It means a great deal to us that the Red Sea Fund believes in this story enough to fund it. It’s both an honor and a responsibility,” Saudi filmmaker Talha B. told Arab News. He will be co-directing the winning project “Lithium” along with fellow creative Amro B.

The feature film tackles the subject of bipolar disorder and the silent suffering of individuals with mental health issues in the Arab region.

“It is a great responsibility to present this subject in a positive yet honest way, and we intend to do it the justice it deserves … It tackles a subject that we rarely admit we have in our society. We hope that more bold stories like this are told candidly because, like physical health, mental health too matters,” Talha said.

The film is currently in development and is set to premiere at the 2023/2024 Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah.

The rest of the 23 selections include shorts, documentaries, animated films and documentaries, with five submitted from Africa, 11 from the Arab region, and seven by Saudi directors.

The aim is to support young and ambitious filmmakers to carve a niche for themselves in the industry.

“It’s very fresh and exciting witnessing the great things Red Sea films are achieving and presenting to the filmmakers in Saudi Arabia and the world. The funded films speak a lot about the amount of understanding for both the creative process and the craftsmanship behind the walls of their visionary team and their out-of-the-box thinking,” Anas BaTahaf, the filmmaker and upcoming producer of the selected film “Hayat Yousef,” told Arab News.

BaTahaf is teaming up with long-time collaborator Sarah Taibah who will be joining as a screenwriter on the upcoming project that features meaningful character arcs, quirkiness, blended-genres, and “high voltage” absurdity, all packed within a contemporary dark romcom.

“Taibah’s knowledge and thorough understanding of romance — from her various art projects on studying love as a feeling and theme during a wide range of art residencies around the world — is another quality that grants her my full trust when it comes to telling this story,” BaTahaf said.

The aim to tell unconventional stories is the reason for the selection of “Red Eye,” set to be directed by filmmaker Mohammad Jastaniah.

“After so many trials, errors, and rejections it’s nice to see once again that persistence pays off, let alone being supported by the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation — a place I call home. It feels special,” Jastaniah told Arab News.

The film is an “allegory” for the artist’s experience in Saudi, he said. “Red Eye” follows the story of a man navigating the stigma of being a rock star, fighting his own demons, and dealing with his relationship with his father.

“It speaks for those who stand out in the crowd, and there are so many of us out there, especially in these exciting times of change happening in the Kingdom. Pinch me because it feels like a dream,” Jastaniah said.

“I am very excited for our film and all the other films that won (backing) … Local filmmakers deserve all the praise and support,” said BaTahaf.

He said he was looking forward to his friends seeing the “great” films that were made.


Hollywood star Angelina Jolie speaks up for women in Afghanistan

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie speaks up for women in Afghanistan
Updated 16 August 2022

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie speaks up for women in Afghanistan

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie speaks up for women in Afghanistan

DUBAI: Hollywood star and humanitarian Angelina Jolie this week honored women in Afghanistan, “one year after the fall of the government.”

The 47-year-old actress shared on Instagram an op-ed she wrote for TIME and said: “It cannot end here.”

In the article, the Oscar winner said: “The daughters of Afghanistan are extraordinary for their strength, resilience, and resourcefulness.”

The actress said that one year ago, Afghan women worked in all fields — being doctors, teachers, police officers and politicians.

“To my Afghan friends, I have faith in you and your resilience and your strength,” wrote Jolie. “I dream of visiting with my daughters, making friends, traveling around your beautiful country, and seeing you free to determine your own future … I know it’s possible. This does not end here.”


Industry experts help shape XP Music Futures program for 2022

Industry experts help shape XP Music Futures program for 2022
Updated 15 August 2022

Industry experts help shape XP Music Futures program for 2022

Industry experts help shape XP Music Futures program for 2022
  • DJs, rappers, producers sign up to new advisory board
  • Innovation and diversity are key pillars of this year’s event, organizers say

RIYADH: XP Music Futures has created an advisory board of industry insiders to ensure maximum diversity and innovation when it stages its second festival in November.

Among those appointed to the so-called board of advocates and advisors are American rapper Kim Renard Nazel — better known as Arabian Prince — music producer and record label founder Saud Alturki, immersive audio specialist Marcela Rada, digital media expert Natasha Stambuli, and the regional head of A&R and marketing at Sony Music Middle East Karima Damir.

Mohammed Bajbaa, who founded Saudi clothing brand Proud Angeles and fashion consultancy Proud X, Saudi rapper Jara and DJ Space Boi, will also be on the board.

XP director Nada Alhelabi said: “83 percent of last year’s attendees loved XP because of its programming. Partnering with a diverse set of professionals means guests see representation they can identify with and relate to.

“Our trusted board of advocates and advisors serve as one way for us to stay connected to communities … and deliver another great edition of valuable cultural and music exchange, tangible progress and inspire unlimited innovation.”

With its Day and Nite program and focus on innovation through disruptive, forward-thinking methods, XP is the forerunner within the MENA region for the music and creative industries.

It will not only discover and discuss how new technology is the driver of change in the music ecosystem – exploring the fast-moving Web3, the new iteration on blockchain technology and Metaverse – but also bring technology for guests to experience in immersive installations.

Its other core pillars of talent, scene and impact will work to implement ways to flourish careers in the music industry, nurture the scene through workshops and panels, and initiate dialogue around music, mental health and well-being, and their role in creating a socially conscious industry.

“The ultimate objective of XP is to accelerate the development and transformation of the music landscape across the Middle East,” Alhelabi said. “We are grateful to be driving, crafting and optimizing wonders into our world.”

The festival runs from Nov. 28-30. Music professionals and enthusiasts can register at https://mdlbeast.com/events/xp-2022.