Algerian artist Kader Attia creates ‘archipelago of voices’ at Berlin Biennale

Algerian artist Kader Attia creates ‘archipelago of voices’ at Berlin Biennale
Detail of 'Oh Shining Star Testify' by Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme. (Laura Fiorio)
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Updated 23 June 2022

Algerian artist Kader Attia creates ‘archipelago of voices’ at Berlin Biennale

Algerian artist Kader Attia creates ‘archipelago of voices’ at Berlin Biennale
  • The Algerian artist has curated a thought-provoking and controversial show, featuring many Arab artists

BERLIN: “I’m interested in understanding why the world is haunted by injuries produced by modernity and its massive crimes, such as fascism, colonialism, slavery... What Algerian psychoanalyst Karima Lazali calls ‘The rogues of the Enlightenment,’” says French-Algerian artist Kader Attia, curator of the 12th Berlin Biennale, entitled “Still Present!”

The biennale, which runs until Sept. 18, attempts to render visible these ‘historical wounds’ of Western modernity, including systemic racism and capitalist extraction, drawing links between individual injury and collective trauma.

Ariella Aisha Azoulay’s “The Natural History of Rape,” for example, presents a largely textual post-World War II archive through anonymous diaries documenting the rampant sexual abuse of women in Berlin at the hands of the allied forces — their ‘liberators.’ The photographs she includes feature a destroyed city rather than violated bodies — a deliberate comment on the incompleteness of the historical archive.




French-Algerian artist Kader Attia is the curator of the 12th Berlin Biennale, entitled “Still Present!” (Jennifer Soike)

In sharp contrast are the explicit, desensitizing images of bloodied, tortured male bodies in Jean-Jacques Lebel’s “Soluble poison: Scenes from the American occupation in Baghdad” — a labyrinthine structure in which larger-than-life-sized prints on fabric of the disturbingly familiar shots taken by US soldiers in Abu Ghraib recur and blur, disrupted by grainy black-and-white imagery of a disfigured Iraq.

“With these works, we are looking at the space in between aggressors and victims. All crimes unify the victims and the perpetrators, psychoanalysts know that,” says Attia.

Lebel’s work was the most talked-about following the show’s opening, with many critics claiming that it appropriated Iraqi bodies. A common concern was that the exposure of injustice does not equate to reparation. Or even art.




Taysir Batniji's 'Suspended Time.' (Supplied)

The Iraqi artists whose works adjoined Lebel’s — including Raed Mutar, who contributed a melancholic painting, and Sajjad Abbas, who presented a public intervention on Iraq’s Green Zone — asked to be moved.

“The work of the curator isn’t just about the art, it’s also about structuring narratives from the different universes represented by the work,” Attia says. “Mapping the world needs to create an archipelago of voices, that’s why I invited artists from both Palestine and Israel, and other regions of the world. I’m imagining the biennale as a map — an archipelago of thinking about crime, but also of hope.”

The colonial conversation — a focus of the show — is, Attia believes, dominated by blind spots surrounding ecology and extraction, restitution and reparation, and fascism and colonialism.




Ammar Bouras' work on display in Berlin. (Supplied)

“First, there is a need to decolonize feminism; to signify that there’s a feminism in the South that’s different from that in the North and give room for that. I believe that artists have the capacity to shine the light on these blind spots,” he says.

The late Egyptian artist Amal Kenawy’s 2009 work “Silence of the Sheep” (or ‘lambs’) is a case in point. It documents a staged performance in which she leads a ‘flock’ of crawling men through the streets of downtown Cairo, while a crowd of indignant men gather around the artist. Attia sees this reaction as a symbolic precursor of the Arab Spring protests that would follow.

Almost a third of the biennale’s artists hail from the Arab world. Asim Abdulaziz’s performative film “1941” is a living sculpture of sleek, shirtless Yemeni men knitting in an abandoned Hindu temple. Algerian artist Ammar Bouras creates a stunning mosaic-like montage of a recomposed Taourirt Tan Afella mountain, referencing the 1962 Béryl explosion caused by French underground nuclear tests in his homeland.




Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme's installation. (Laura Fiorio)

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme stage a haunting audiovisual installation of juxtaposed screens — “Oh Shining Star Testify” — in which fragmented images of windswept akkoub sunflowers are interspersed with CCTV footage of 14-year-old Yusef Al-Shawamreh, who was shot dead by the Israeli military in 2014 as he crossed the Israeli ‘Separation Wall’ to forage for akkoub. “Give me your scarf to wrap my wound,” the text says.

The Turner Prize-winning Lebanese artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan has wrapped an entire room with a strip of unfurling pinkish-grey clouds that index Israeli military violations of Lebanese airspace for “Air Conditioning.” It also speaks to Attia’s interest in the hidden patriarchal imperial figure. As he puts it, “The oppressor is invisible.”

Taysir Batniji’s “Suspended Time,” made the year he left — and could not return to — Gaza, is a horizontal hourglass through which the sand cannot flow. Taking a lateral view of time, it could be a metaphor for Attia's notion of the frozen present, shaped by a violent understanding of the past. It ties in with Attia’s curatorial statement, in which he writes that art slows down time, free from algorithmic governance.

“Data can be analyzed to generate statistics on the economy of art or the networks affiliated to it,” he writes, “but it can never foresee what the art of tomorrow will look like.”


Museum of the Future unveils bold vision for the Dubai of tomorrow during event in Paris

Museum of the Future unveils bold vision for the Dubai of tomorrow during event in Paris
Updated 2 min 9 sec ago

Museum of the Future unveils bold vision for the Dubai of tomorrow during event in Paris

Museum of the Future unveils bold vision for the Dubai of tomorrow during event in Paris
  • Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation, described the new museum as the latest addition to the list of world’s most celebrated cultural landmarks
  • He was speaking during the 26th International Trade Show for Museums, a prestigious three-day event that took place at the Louvre Museum this week

PARIS: The UAE’s Museum of the Future has unveiled its bold vision for the Dubai of tomorrow. It presented its ideas during the 26th International Trade Show for Museums, a three-day event at the Louvre Museum in Paris that attracted many of the world’s leading cultural institutions.

The delegation at the event, which concluded on Thursday, was led by Khalfan Belhoul, the CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation, and also included Lath Carlson, the executive director of the Museum of the Future, and Majed Al-Mansoori, its deputy executive director.

The museum, which is located in Dubai’s Financial District and opened in February, was invited to attend the trade show to share its ideas for incubating a new generation of talent and helping to build a better future for humanity.

By embracing the latest breakthroughs in advanced technology, its team also aims to offer unparalleled visitor experiences and help to stimulate the cultural economy of Dubai.

“Our presence here in Paris represents a golden opportunity to engage with like-minded peers and establish deeper ties as we create pioneering experiences in a museum focused on making history by perceiving the future,” Belhoul said.

He described the Museum of the Future as the latest addition to the list of the world’s most celebrated cultural landmarks and added that it has set new benchmarks in the design and development of cultural landmarks.

“Today, it serves as an incubator for bright minds to accelerate big ideas that can strengthen Dubai’s position as a place to address some of the world’s most complex challenges,” he said.

By embracing cutting-edge technology and the pursuit of innovation to drive social, economic and environmental growth, Dubai is helping to unify global efforts to build a better future for humankind, added Belhoul.


What We Are Playing Today: Akfosh

What We Are Playing Today: Akfosh
Updated 45 min 19 sec ago

What We Are Playing Today: Akfosh

What We Are Playing Today: Akfosh
  • This Arabic card game is a great deal of fun to play with a large group

Akfosh is an Arabic game that contains 55 picture cards on various subjects, including Saudi cultural items, well-known locations across the country, and even fruit and vegetables.

The Saudi-specific fashion items include the shemagh (male headdress), burqa, madas (sandal), dallah (coffee pot), finjan (coffee cup), and miswak (twig to clean your teeth). The landmarks include Jeddah’s fountain and the Kingdom Center in Riyadh, while the other cards feature Arab-related icons such as tents and camels.

The game allows between two and eight players to participate. There are different styles of playing, with the most popular having every player with one card face down in front of them, and the rest of the deck placed in the middle. When the game starts, each player flips their card to see it and then tries to grab a matching one from the middle first. The player with the most cards wins.

Akfosh is one of my favorite Arabic card games and is a great deal of fun to play with a large group. It relies on your visual observation, and it gets everyone competitive because it is so fast-paced.

Carrying the small box is quite easy, it fits perfectly in my handbag. I always have my Akfosh cards with me if I know many people will be at a gathering or outing. It is a fun activity that brings people together.

The game suits all ages and can be found across the Kingdom at Virgin megastores, Jarir bookstores, and even through online platforms such as Noon, Lifestyley and Amazon.

 

 


‘It was way overdue’: Sam Asghari opens up about marrying Britney Spears

‘It was way overdue’: Sam Asghari opens up about marrying Britney Spears
Updated 30 June 2022

‘It was way overdue’: Sam Asghari opens up about marrying Britney Spears

‘It was way overdue’: Sam Asghari opens up about marrying Britney Spears

DUBAI: US-Iranian actor Sam Asghari has opened up about his marriage to pop superstar Britney Spears in his first interview since their June wedding.

The actor and dancer appeared on “Good Morning America” in a segment that aired Wednesday to promote his film, “Hot Seat.”

“The husband thing hasn’t hit me yet,” Asghari said, before discussing the wedding and saying, “It was way overdue for us. We imagined this thing being a fairytale, and it was. And we wanted to celebrate with, you know, our loved ones, our close people. We wanted to just celebrate, and that’s what we did.”

Until November 2021, Spears was under a conservatorship, which was handled by her estranged father Jamie Spears, and was unable to get married.

 

 

Following the termination of the conservatorship, the pair wed on June 9 in an intimate ceremony at their Los Angeles home. Guests included Madonna, Selena Gomez, Drew Barrymore, Paris Hilton, and Donatella Versace.

The up-and-coming actor is starring in the film “Hot Seat,” in which he plays a SWAT team officer alongside Shannen Doherty, Kevin Dillon, and Mel Gibson.

“My wife gave me, like, this amazing platform to work with,” he said. “So I’m always appreciative of that. And I’m always so grateful for that. I don’t take any opportunity that I have for granted, and I really try to stay positive with everything that’s happening.” 

They began dating in 2016 after meeting on the set of her “Slumber Party” music video.


Egyptian composer Hesham Nazih invited to join Academy of Motion Picture Arts

Famed composer Hesham Nazih. (Supplied)
Famed composer Hesham Nazih. (Supplied)
Updated 30 June 2022

Egyptian composer Hesham Nazih invited to join Academy of Motion Picture Arts

Famed composer Hesham Nazih. (Supplied)

DUBAI: Egyptian composer Hesham Nazih is among 397 individuals invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this year.

The organization that puts on the Oscars said Tuesday that 44 percent of the 2022 class identifies as women, 50 percent come from outside of the US and 37 percent are from underrepresented ethnic and racial communities. If the invitees accept, which most do, they will have voting privileges at the 95th Academy Awards.

Nazih, the only Egyptian invited this year, joins Oscar winners Ariana DeBose, Troy Kotsur and Billie Eilish, as well as Iranian actor Amir Jadidi on the list.

Other actors invited this year include Anya Taylor-Joy, Jessie Buckley, Gaby Hoffman, “Belfast” co-stars Jamie Dornan and Caitríona Balfe, as well as Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee, both of “The Power of the Dog.” 

The 95th Academy Awards will be held in Los Angeles on March 12, 2023.

Across more than 40 films over an award-winning 20-year-span, Nazih has heightened each project he’s scored, from “Son of Rizk” to “Blue Elephant.” Now, the composer for Marvel’s TV show “Moon Knight,” Nazih has officially made the crossover that only a handful of true international greats, such as Ennio Morricone and A.R. Rahman, have pulled off before him.

“I knew this was huge step for me,” Nazih previously told Arab News. “Working with Marvel was a game changer for my career. I had countless thoughts in my head, and I had to fight a lot of them off.”


Dhahran’s Ithra hosts ‘Amakin’ exhibition highlighting 28 Saudi, international artists

Dhahran’s Ithra hosts ‘Amakin’ exhibition highlighting 28 Saudi, international artists
Updated 30 June 2022

Dhahran’s Ithra hosts ‘Amakin’ exhibition highlighting 28 Saudi, international artists

Dhahran’s Ithra hosts ‘Amakin’ exhibition highlighting 28 Saudi, international artists

DUBAI: The 9th edition of the 21,39 Jeddah Arts exhibition is travelling to Dhahran’s Ithra — or the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture — for the first time.

Inspired by Saudi singer Mohammed Abdu’s popular song “Al Amakin,” the exhibition opens at Ithra on June 30 and will run until Sept. 30.

Asma Bahmim “Wandering Walls.” (Supplied)

Leading art historian Venetia Porter curated the exhibition, which includes 28 regional and international artists who explore the notion of what “makan,” or place, means to them, demonstrating how their life experiences have shaped their relationship to different places, real and imagined.

“The notion of makan, or place, fell into sharp relief with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns around the world,” Porter said in a released statement. “That place where we live and perhaps took for granted became, for some of us, another country as we discovered familiar streets as though for the first time, observed in minute detail the changing of the seasons or listened to the birds. For others, our makan became a trap – a place to escape from that now caused us trauma and stress.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by #SAC #ساك (@sacsaudi)

Saudi artists Safeya Binzagr and Abdulhalim Radwi headline the show, which also features works by Abdulrahman Al-Soliman, a Sharqiyah-based Saudi modernist, as well as a bevy of other creative talents from Chile, Iraq, Pakistan, Lebanon and Palestine.

Badr Ali, notebooks and sketches. (Supplied)

“This exhibition is a source of inspiration, and will evoke emotions within each visitor; emotions they did not know were lying dormant at the back of their minds,” said Farah Abushullaih, head of the Ithra Museum, in a released statement.

This is the first 21,39 exhibition to travel beyond Jeddah.