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Tea with Culture

A podcast about the cultural happenings in the United Arab Emirates presented by Hind Mezaina (The Culturist) and Wael Hattar.


Sheikha Salama Foundation Emerging Artist Fellowship - Cohort 3

Photo courtesy of the Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation 

Earlier this month, I completed my one year with Sheikha Salama Foundation Emerging Artist Fellowship. This one year programme brings together a small group of emerging artists based in the UAE and provides artistic and technical knowledge, and professional skills, in partnership with the Rhode Island School of Design

I was in the third batch of this fellowship with 15 other emerging artists. It was a very rewarding year for all of us, we learned a lot and exchanged lots of ideas and thoughts and explored new mediums. Personally, it was the space I needed (physically and mentally) to think about my work. I had a couple of old friends with me in this fellowship and made some new friends along the way. 

The summer month saw us all working on our final project, creating new work for the final crit session which took place in the last week of August. The work is currently at Warehouse 421 in Abu Dhabi, open to the public till Sunday, 2nd October 2016 (images of our work with a brief description are included below).

On Wednesday, 28th September there will be a panel talk and an 'open house' where visitors can see the work and meet the artists. It is free to attend, if you are in the neighbourhood, please do visit and come and say hello. 

More about the event:

Here's what we all worked on this summer. I do  hope you get a chance to go see the work for yourself between now and 2nd October 2016 at Warehouse 421 in Abu Dhabi.

Ahmed Hasan Mohamed created five "conceptual portraits", each piece reflecting a memory of his life. 

Amal Al Khaja's Self Disciplining Act, asks herself what her role is in the community. 

Asma Yousef Alahmed addresses the role of the mountains in the UAE, "treated as a resource rather than a place".

Fatima Albudoor
's work revolves around fiction and reality, relationships, the self and transient experiences in life.


Fatima Yousef Al Yousef's photo series deals with the death of her sister to cancer and it's impact on family and friends. 


Ghaleya AlMansoori's Chain Reaction is about the her dealing with coming from a conservative family and her place in the art world. 


Lina Younes' work looks at world as a pyramid scheme, hierarchies, single and multiple entities. 


Nasser Alzayani's Watering the Distant, Deserting the Near is about a dried up natural spring in Bahrain and the memories attached to it.

Rania Jishi's The Visit, is a video installation that looks at "Salon Marriages" and the rituals of these visits that are about finding potential brides, predominantly in the Levant region. 

Raudha Al Ghurair
's Vessels explores different modes and relationships of containment.  


Sawsan Al Bahar's Self Portrait is about the state of existence and notions of self.


Sham Enbashi's When I Met Myself, photo series is inspired by Jorge Luis Borges' Labyrinths and questions what if there are two of you and what happens if you cross path with your other self at different stages of life. 


Tala Worrell's Chameleons is about "non-humans we anthropomorphise in order to see our humanity with great clarity". 

Tima Ouzden's Paradise Lost, looks at the concepts of "jannah" (paradise) in both physical and spiritual realms, and the aesthetics of terrorism. 

Zahra Jewanjee
's work looks at marginalised societies, gender, geometry, chaos and order.



Here's what I did, a series of collage, transfers and a video, all linked to memory, changes and the representation of Dubai in the media. Some of it is still unresolved and is a first step of work I want to continue.


All photos © Hind Mezaina, unless stated otherwise.  


Film Screening: Art:Interrupted 

is a documentary by Hattie Bowering that was filmed before and during India's first contemporary art biennale, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2012. It's a behind the scenes look at how a new biennale is set up in a city that doesn't have the infrastructure for a biennale and the challenges faced by its founders and artists. 

The film was first screened in the UAE last November at the Sharjah Art Foundation and will be screened in Dubai on Thursday, 22nd September at A4 Space in Alserkal Avenue

Art:Interrupted gives you an insight into how the city handled its first biennale which was also the antithesis of biennales and art fairs around the world, the reaction of the people of Kochi and the challenges faced by everyone involved. Over a span of few months, many in Kochi who weren't familiar with what a biennale is had a sense of pride their city hosted India's first contemporary art biennale, welcoming visitors from India and abroad, but most importantly, enjoying and engaging with a contemporary art event that was made for them.

The film is endearing and funny, everyone in it believe in the biennale and the positive effect it can have on the city. (Disclosure, I was one of supporters of the crowdfunding campaign to raise money for this film). 

Here's the trailer, and if you are in Dubai, I strongly recommend you go watch this film. I do hope it gets to be screened in more cities.  

Shot in 2012, Art: Interrupted goes behind the scenes as India prepared to host its first contemporary art biennale in the historic port town of Fort Kochi, Kerala. From the frontline of art, the film followed Indian and international artists as they created new and ambitious works in beautiful but derelict colonial spaces. 

It is a very entertaining film set in a part of the world that is colourful, vibrant and loud and presents a picture of India and its cultural connections that everybody can respond to.

Overcoming limited resources, errant labour unions, equatorial heat and swarms of mosquitos, the artists, the organisers and the local community managed – against the odds – to pull off an event that drew over 400,000 visitors and found a new and appreciative audience for contemporary art.

Event details
Date and time: Thursday, 22nd September at 7.00pm (the film is 51 minutes long)
Venue: A4 Space, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai (location map)
Free entry  `


NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Center - Performances in September 2016

Zahed Sultan

A new season of performances at NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Center is back after a summer break. The season started with Nik Bärtsch's Mobile, a 27 hour performance that started on 1st September and ended at 10pm on 2nd September. I attended approximately 10 hours of the performance during the two days. It was amazing, felt like a rhythmic rituals slumber party. 

Below is the line up for the rest of the month (click on each title for more information) and I will share with you the list of all the performances every month for the rest of this season.

Going by the previous season, expect an eclectic line up of performances that engages with the community. All the events are free to attend, but you must book tickets online in advance. 


When: 7th September at 4.00pm (Family Matinee), 8th September at 8.00pm, 9th September at 5.00pm 
Where: Black Box, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi 


Badke is not a search for a long-lost authenticity, but rather a nuanced expression of both a sense of belonging and a desire to be part of the wider world. But behind the relentless energy and joy also lie darker moments, alluding to life under occupation and violence. This other reality seeps into the celebratory surface of Badke. The dancers push themselves to new extremes, driven by Nasser Al-Faris’ infectious score. But in the end, however, one thought prevails: We will dance until we collapse.


Zahed Sultan and DJ Dolores
When: 21st and 22nd September at 8.00pm
Where: Black Box, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi   


Resonance is an evolving audio-visual project by Kuwaiti multimedia artist Zahed Sultan. Requiring sensory participation from an audience, Resonance blurs the boundaries of what is real and what is perceived, in an immersive live performance integrating music, visuals, and light.


Breakbeats and dub meet the sounds of Brazil’s Northeast in the this special musical hybrid from producer, bandleader and musician DJ Dolores, which reunites his original band Orchestra Santa Massa in a blind date with his newest project, Frevotron.


Summer Series - Sunny, Salty Memories by Olympia Kappou

This is the last post in my Summer Series. It encapsulates what an ideal summer holiday would be for me. If you didn't go on a summer vacation like me, hope you were able to dream of a summer holiday through my posts, or made you think of planning a quick summer getaway soon before the weather changes.


Summer Series - Zanzibar from Above by Mathias Arvedsen

21 days on Zanzibar with unforgettable moments. Stone Town, Jambiani, Paje, Matemwe, Kizimkazi and Makunduchi is some of the places featured in this film. Beautiful nature, delicious fruit and smiling openminded people is three of many reasons to go there.

Did you know the shortest war ever recorded by man is the Anglo-Zanzibar War where the British bombarded the Beit al Hukum Palace and after 38 minutes, a ceasefire was called.


Summer Series - Reverie of Vietnam by Oliver Astrologo

Set off on a 1650Km north to south journey: capturing the best wonders of Vietnam: Hanoi ancient quarter, the breathtaking Halong Bay, the claustrophobic caves in Trang An, the glamorous fabric merchants in Hoi An, the secret temples inside the marble mountain in Da Nang, the historical old capital Hue, the wet and tropical mekong delta and the white sandy beaches at Phu Quoc.

Trip date 29 Mar - 15 Apr 2015.


Summer Series - Watchtowers of Turkey by Leonardo Dalessandri

This video went viral a couple of years ago, but it is always worth revisiting.

Over than 3500 km traveled in 20 days, capturing landscapes from the bluish tones of Pamukkale to the warm ones of Cappadocia, the all passing by a great variation of colors, lights and weathers through six other cities. 

I've crossed Cappadocia, Pamukkale, Ephesus, Istanbul, Konya; and tasted baklava, kunefe, doner, the turkish tea; and got the chance to meet the soul of Turkey, its people.. and got their smiles and their hospitality.

This is Turkey lived by me from north to south, and I hope you enjoy it. 


Summer Series - Sri Lanka

Everyone I know that have been to Sri Lanka say how beautiful it is and how friendly the people are. Considering how close it is to Dubai, I have not yet visited, but hope to do so in the near future.


Summer Series - Sicily 

If I ever go to Sicily, think I will just swim, eat, sleep. Repeat. 


Summer Series - Taiwan: You Can’t Go Home Again

“How far we all come. How far we all come away from ourselves. So far, so much between, you can never go home again. You can go home, it's good to go home, but you never really get all the way home again in your life. " -Thomas Wolfe