DUBAI: The Dubai Collection has announced the launch of a week-long series of art events set to take place from March 25-31, the Emirates News Agency has reported.
The inaugural edition of “Dubai Collection Nights” will include panel discussions on institution building and collecting by influential art professionals, film screenings, unique opportunities to visit patrons’ private collections, and studio visits by acclaimed UAE-based artists.
It will provide insight into A.R.M. Holding’s corporate collection, illustrating how companies are increasingly becoming a part of Dubai’s creative landscape.
The Dubai Collection is an initiative that aims to provide the public with a chance to explore important artworks, while also encouraging a new, long-term collecting culture in the emirate.
Muna Faisal Al Gurg, chair of the Dubai Collection’s Curatorial Committee, said: “Our new initiative, ‘Dubai Collection Nights,’ underscores Dubai Collection’s mission to build a community of committed patrons of the arts and ignite creativity across the city.
“It is created to offer a new platform for local audiences to explore the stories in the collection and connect our communities of artists, collectors, and art professionals.”
Benedetta Ghione, executive director of Art Dubai, said: “‘Dubai Collection Nights’ is the first dedicated initiative that will bring together the wider Dubai Collection community in the city for the first time.
“The lineup of activities is an important opportunity for our local audiences to see the collection and connect with Dubai-based artists and patrons.
“Talks and debates will bring to the fore the voices of professionals and collectors committed to changing the landscape of institutional collecting, whilst every day during the week-long event there will be an opportunity for the public to see artworks and learn more about the collection.”
Simone Fattal explores the many cultures of the Mediterranean in Venice
The Lebanese artist’s installation also highlights the links between Venice and the Gulf
Updated 09 June 2023
Rebecca Anne Proctor
VENICE: Paris-based Lebanese artist Simone Fattal’s latest work is currently on display in the Church of San Lorenzo in Venice, Italy.
Fattal’s powerful installation is titled “Sempre il mare, uomo libero, amerai!” which translates from Italian to “Always the sea, freeman, you will love!” from the poem “Man and the Sea” by Charles Baudelaire, which describes the waves of the sea as the mirror of the soul. The sea, notes Baudelaire in his poem, is a natural and feminine element that generates and nourishes. Fattal’s work similarly offers a poignant and loving reflection of the Mediterranean, its constant changes, and the cultures it has separated and unified.
“Through my work I try to transcend the actual surface of things to make it more meaningful by recollecting old myths and stories,” Fattal tells Arab News. “I think this reconnection can bring a lot to a person, inside. There were hard times before us and there are hard times ahead of us.
“I create abstract art because it offers silence and silence is a constituent to art otherwise you can’t really go into it — art needs to be meditative,” she continues.
The works are part of the exhibition “Thus Waves Come in Pairs,” a line from the poem “Sea and Fog” by the late Etel Adnan. It runs at Ocean Space in Venice until Nov. 5 alongside other new commissions by Petrit Halilaj and Alvaro Urbano.
“There are many Mediterraneans: the geographical, the historical, the philosophical … the personal, the one we swim in,” Adnan once said. “It’s an experience to swim, it is something you can’t explain to somebody who never swam. This feeling of being held up by this water.”
Fattal’s installation comprises two sculptures that occupy the empty niches of the church’s large Baroque altar. One is “Young Boy,” an abstract figure colored burnt yellow. The other is “Bricola,” a large ceramic sculpture with rich natural hues inspired by the eponymous Venetian wooden poles used to guide boats through the city’s canals evocative of navigation. It also includes two monumental abstract figures “Máyya and Ghaylán” — a pair of lovers celebrated in classical Arabic poetry, whom Fattal separates and joins by rectangular glass plates on the ground evoking a golden sea — and “Contrast,” a series of pearly spheres made from pink Murano glass onto which Fattal has engraved an inscription in lingua franca, a mestizo language drawn from Italian, French, Spanish and Arabic that was once spoken by pirates, merchants, prisoners and slaves along the shores of the Mediterranean. These spheres lie on the floor on the opposite side of the space from the altar.
The inscription on the spheres is taken from the text of the earliest evidence of lingua franca, “Contrasto della Zerbitana” (The Conflict with the Woman of Djerba), a 14th-century poem about an argument between a sailor and the mother of a woman he mistreated, set on the island of Djerba, off the coast of Tunisia.
Poetry, as Fattal demonstrates in these new works, serves as a vehicle for past and present transmission from one language and culture to another. She portrays the complexities and forgotten memories that shape the colonial past and neocolonial present of the Mediterranean and its varied cultures and peoples.
“I wanted to link my work here not only to the church and the Mediterranean but also to the Gulf and the history of pearl trading there,” she tells Arab News. “I was also interested in how the Arab world connected to Venice through the trade of pearls — that’s where Venetian women once got their pearls: from the Gulf.”
Fattal also stresses that the works demonstrate other materials and skills that originated in the Orient, including glass blowing and velvet. Her works, at once poignant and melancholic, aim to resurrect the crucial historical link between Venice and the Orient, the East and the West, and show how the result of such trade is still with us — through cultures, traditions, languages, and art.
As Fattal notes: “All that you see in Venice that is beautiful are symbols of exchange of beauty that took place via the Mediterranean Sea.”
Tom Cruise to attend Middle East premiere of ‘Mission Impossible’ in Abu Dhabi
Updated 06 June 2023
DUBAI: The UAE is set to host the Middle East premiere of the eagerly awaited “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” at a red-carpet event at Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace on June 26.
The film’s screening will be attended by Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie.
Some of the movie’s scenes were shot in the Liwa desert and the Midfield Terminal in the UAE capital’s airport.
McQuarrie, Cruise, and the cast and crew shot in the emirate for almost two weeks in 2021 with the support of the Abu Dhabi Film Commission and other local production partners, including twofour54 Abu Dhabi.
It marks the second time the Paramount Pictures’ franchise has filmed in Abu Dhabi following the HALO jump sequence for “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” in 2018.
Khalfan Al-Mazrouei, acting director general of Creative Media Authority, said: “Hosting the premiere of ‘Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One’ is an honor for Abu Dhabi and is also a reflection of the position the emirate holds as one of the Middle East and North Africa region’s top film and TV locations.
“We are proud to have worked with such a genre-defining franchise once again and it demonstrates how Abu Dhabi has everything filmmakers need to successfully complete such large, complex productions.”
An interesting fact that Al-Theeb revealed was that people from all walks of life living in the Arabian Peninsula had the freedom to engrave their thoughts, feelings, poetry, or curses on rocks
Updated 04 June 2023
MAKKAH: Many monuments in the Arabian Peninsula have been found bearing inscriptions in the Thamudic, Nabataean and Safaitic languages invoking evil upon those who try to tamper with or obliterate them.
One such Thamudic inscription, dating between the end of the first century AD to the fourth century AD, was found by a Saudi citizen named Khalid Al-Fraih in the Tabhar area northwest of Tabuk, which is dotted with many ancient inscriptions and monuments.
People from all walks of life living in the Arabian Peninsula had the freedom to engrave their thoughts, feelings, poetry, or curses, on rocks contrary to those who lived in Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt, where inscriptions were exclusively written by the leaders or those who with a high status.
Professor of ancient Arabic writings, Dr. Suleiman Al-Theeb, told Arab News that this Thamudic inscription is written on the facade of one of the mountains of Wadi Tabhar. “What is interesting is that they used curses so that evil befalls … those who distort and sabotage … it. This type of curse is well known in the Thamudic, Nabataean, Palmyrian and Safaitic inscriptions.”
People who inhabited the area centuries ago were pagans who indulged in idol worship.
“This curse was written, most likely, to intimidate and scare away those who want to destroy their god … and the purpose of intimidation by cursing is to maintain and keep what has been written,” he said.
In order to prevent others from attacking their rocks, they used to write on them words of threat, curse and intimidation of the wrath of the gods. The fear was real and people would then refrain from destroying the rocks.
Dr. Suleiman Al-Theeb, Professor of ancient Arabic writings
Al-Theeb also revealed that the writings and inscriptions on rocks were similar to published material that we see today. “If two people disagree or a problem occurred between them, they would usually attack the rock of others. In order to prevent others from attacking their rocks, they used to write on them words of threat, curse and intimidation of the wrath of the gods. The fear was real and people would then refrain from destroying the rocks.”
An interesting fact that Al-Theeb revealed was that people from all walks of life living in the Arabian Peninsula had the freedom to engrave their thoughts, feelings, poetry, or curses on rocks, contrary to those who lived in Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt, where inscriptions were exclusively written by leaders or those who with high status.
The professor stressed that these inscriptions are very important as they depict the history of previous civilizations, and should be monitored and documented by specialists to preserve them.
International artists explore Saudi landscape in new exhibition
Misk Art Institute’s latest Masaha Residency art showcase features 11 global and local artists and two writers whose
Updated 03 June 2023
RIYADH: The Misk Art Institute’s latest Masaha Residency art showcase features 11 global and local artists and two writers whose projects explore tradition in the context of social development.
The fifth cycle of the three-month cross-cultural program brought together an international cohort of artists to develop fresh, research-driven art projects. Through architecture, music, and culture, several artists discovered traces of their own homes in the Saudi landscape.
Fahdah Althonayan, director of the education department at Misk, told Arab News: “Each cycle has its own uniqueness. Within this one, we had the opportunity to experiment with dual artists … it is a new thing that we tried with (them) to work together on their artwork, which surprised us as well.
“The variety of Saudi, khaleeji, and foreigners from different continents was amazing. It is an enriching experience.”
Ilyas Hajji, a photographer, and Nastya Indrikova, a researcher, are a Russian duo who worked on reconstructing the Hajj pilgrimage route, which was often dangerous.
Although it was modernized, many still struggled to make the trip from Russia, including the Muslim population in Dagestan during and after the fall of the Soviet Union.
The pair used items brought back from Hajj to highlight the effect on millions who were free to travel after the union’s dissolution.
Palestinian artist Areej Kaoud, who lives and works in London, took to the marketplaces of Riyadh to find a sense of belonging in her piece “Still Hungry.”
“In all these spaces, they pick things. You think that the owner is just trying to sell you things but he’s also trying to heal his own uprootedness,” Kaoud told Arab News.
Kaoud’s studio is the backdrop for a video documenting the offerings of a market staffed by diaspora from other countries, who preserve and share the traditions of back home.
The studio wall is covered with phrases including “Can one heal uprootedness with food?,” “Is being home a state of ‘non-hunger’?” and “Insatiable in diaspora.”
Liao Lihong, a Chinese artist living in Paris, merged an abacus with the shapes of a qanun and an oud to create a unique musical instrument.
“When I studied in China in elementary school, we had a class using the abacus, but now we do not use it anymore because we have calculators,” she said. “But the sound (they make) was always in my mind. The idea is when people use the abacus to calculate numbers, it also plays music."
Aleena Khan bolsters Saudi Arabia’s historical first — a female astronaut and her colleague reaching the International Space Station last month.
Her artwork “A Calling from the Moon” toys with a popular myth in Pakistan that the Adhan, the call to prayer, was heard by Neil Armstrong on the moon.
Her work draws comparisons between the moon’s landscape and an Arabian desert.
She said: “I started to draw what the material on the moon looks like and then I sourced anything that looks similar to it and took it to the desert and shot it.
“What if these landscapes were one?”
In the fragments of Riyadh’s demolished architecture, artist Dia Mrad found hope for their new beginning in his studio. The Lebanese photographer spent months researching and photographing changes in the city’s neighborhoods to create the work “Traditions of Change.”
In line with his practice, which looks to extract narratives from a built environment, he screen-printed fallen pieces of debris with photos of homes that are scheduled for demolition in Riyadh.
“The Kingdom goes through cycles of change — every 30 or 40 years, a big change happens. The latest change that’s happening is Vision 2030, and it’s such a massive change that it’s affecting everything and it’s manifesting largely within the built environment. The history of a city is embedded within its materiality,” Mrad explained.
The exhibition, which spans various mediums including installation, textile, silkscreen and Arabic writing among others, can be viewed at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Arts Hall in Riyadh until June 10.