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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.


Minerva’s Lilies by Amirah Tajdin

Amirah Tajdin continues to make beautiful short films. I recently shared her Baqala video and here's her latest short film, Minerva’s Lilies which was posted on Casimir a week ago.

Minerva’s Lilies was inspired by Amirah Tajdin's "idea of sisterhood, magic, femininity and heartache". The film left me feeling both happy and sad. Happy because of all the girls and women out there who are following their dreams and being true to themselves, and sad because the line "they become broken versions of who they were never meant to be" made me think of all the girls and women out there who aren't living the lives they want.

Please watch this short film and share it with your sister, your daughter, your girl friends.


Shot against a pink Dubai sunset and set to a Swahili Taarab song, Minerva’s Lilies is an intimate portrait of girlhood and the bond between sisters, mothers and daughters.

The film is a personal journey for Tajdin and reflects the various places she calls home, “A testament to the women in my life, my two sisters and most importantly to my mother. Minerva’s Lilies is a meditation on femininity that I weaved up after watching my mother deal with her daughters leaving the house and her re-assessing her sense of womanhood outside of her primary identity of motherhood after 30 years.”

Minerva’s Lilies centres on two sisters, Leah and Nayomi, aged 9 and 10, as they go through the motions of ‘being girls’, playing dress up, riding bicycles and performing make believe rituals. The visual meditation forms the experience of not only the girls’ little world of magic but that of their mother watching over them perched carefully on the edge of their reverie.


Warehouse421 - Wednesdays at the Warehouse - February 2016

Last months saw the launch of Wednesdays at the Warehouse at Warehouse421 in Abu Dhabi, a curated program of creative activities and events taking place every other Wednesday. Here's the schedule of events for this month.



Wednesday, 3rd February 2016

Panel Talk: Artist Communities: Nature vs. Nurture
6.30pm - 8.00pm

Rooted in the vision to support emerging artists in the UAE, this panel discussion explores the theories, practices, and pedagogy around the importance of creating an environment that nurtures and develops artists in the UAE, while honoring an artist’s natural tendency to seek out community.

Pradeep Sharma, Rhode Island School of Design
Anais Missakian, Rhode Island School of Design
Jill Hoyle, Tashkeel
Maisa Al Qassimi, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority

Moderated by: Myrna Ayad, Journalist



Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Workshop: Family Photographs - An Introduction to Acrylic Transfer Techniques
5.30pm - 7.30pm


Using photocopies of photographs (printed on a laser printer), this workshop will introduce participants to acrylic transfer techniques. Using fluid acrylic mediums they will experiment with direct “wet” and “dry” image transfer techniques.
Participants are encourages to bring several black and white photocopies of their photographs, that have been printed on a laser printer and not on an inkjet printer. The transfer technique will not work on photocopies made on an inkjet printer.
Instructor: Anne Krinsky, Artist



Film screenings - 7.30pm - 9.30pm

And on a Different Note

Directed by Mohammad Shawky Hassan
Egypt | PG | Experimental | 24 minutes | 2015

Domestic scenes filmed in Cairo and New York unfold to a continuous stream of talk shows and onscreen text, at times transcribing the exchanges and at others bringing the viewer into the director’s interior world. The 24-hour news cycle and social media networks supersede national borders, revealing both an existential fatigue in light of world affairs and guarded playfulness at having—through the cinematic process—carved out time shielded from them. 



Coming Forth by Day

Directed by Hala Lotfy
Egypt | PG | Drama | 87 minutes | 2013

Those who have fully enjoyed their bodies cannot be submissive. And those who never have? Can they survive the slavery of solitude and impotent acceptance of what they can't change or embrace? This is the everyday story of two women taking care of their sick man.




Cinema at the Space - February 2016


Cinema at The Space will screen the following films this month. The screenings take place at The Space in Abu Dhabi (twofour54 Park Rotana Building), and free to attend, but you must RSVP in advance.

Here's the line up, you can click on the images below to read more/RSVP. Strongly recommend you watch 45 Years and The Assassin, both films are in my list of favourite films of 2015.


Monday, 1st February

Wednesday, 3rd February

Thursday, 4th February

Monday, 8th February

Wednesday, 10th February


Saturday, 13th February


Monday, 15th February


Wednesday, 17th February


Saturday, 20th February


Monday, 22nd February


Wednesday, 24th February


Saturday, 27th February


Monday, 29th February


Cinema Akil - Where We Dwell film screenings in February and March  2016

Cinema Akil's "Where We Dwell" film screenings will conclude on 4th March 2016. Here's the line up of the last few films screening till then. The screenings take place in A4 Space in Alserkal Avenue.


3rd, 4th, 5th February at 7pm

Kiki's Delivery Service
Hayao Miyazaki (1989) 
103’ | English | Japan | Animation, Adventure, Drama | G 

Veteran animator Hayao Miyazaki directs this buoyant adventure about Kiki (whose voice is played by Kirsten Dunst) a young witch striking out on her own. At her mother’s behest, 13-year-old Kiki sets out on a year-long apprenticeship with her black cat in tow.

All is well until she wakes up one day and realizes that she can’t make her broom levitate nor can she talk to her cat. What will Kiki do?

10th, 11th, 12th February at 7pm

A Resident of the City (short)
Adham El Sherif (2014) 
15’ | Arabic | Egypt | Short | PG 

Life in the streets. The boss, the watchman, the ‘big’ one. This film by Adham el Sherif, shows Cairo through the eyes of a street dog, painting an insightful metaphor of a city where social boundaries and street codes define the urban landscape.

Who rules the streets of Cairo? The strongest? The numerous? The most courageous? A tale of companionship and a poignant observation on freedom.

House with a Turret
Eva Neymann (2012) 
80’ | Russian | Ukraine| Drama | G 

An 8-year-old boy travels with his mother towards his grandfather, but their journey is stopped when the young woman dies of typhus in an unknown town. But the boy is determined to go on. Neymann’s film is a visual journey into a country covered in snow and left poor by war.

This is a place of beautiful, deserted landscapes and people overcome by both need and greed. The film is based on motifs drawn from the autobiographical story by Friedrich Gorenstein who penned the script for Tarkovsky’s Solaris.

17th, 18th, 19th February at 7pm

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975
Göran Hugo Olsson (2011)
100’ | Swedish, English | Sweden | Documentary | G

The 2011 documentary follows the evolution of the Black Power Movement from 1967 to 1975 made entirely from found footage shot by a group of Swedish journalists discovered 30 years later in the cellar of Swedish Television.

Featuring never-before-seen commentaries and interviews from the Movement’s leading artists, activists, musicians and scholars including Stokely Carmichael, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Seale, Huey P. Newton, Emile de Antonio, Angela Davis with commentaries by Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Harry Belafonte, Kathleen Cleaver, Robin Kelley and Abiodun Oyewole.

24th, 25th, 26th February at 7pm

The Secret of the Grain
Abdellatif Kechiche (2007)
151’ | French, Arabic, Russian | France | Drama | Unrated

Kechiche’s awarding winning film, The Secret of The Grain, follows Slimane Beiji a Tunisian immigrant who is dismissed after 35 years as a shipyard worker in the port of Sète. Ashamed that he can no longer provide for his family, he buys an old boat and opens up a restaurant that features his ex-wife’s couscous recipe as the signature dish.

Along the way he faces contemptuous bankers, disapproving government workers and relentless urgings from his sons to return to his home country. His only supporter is from Rym, his loving daughter played by award-winning Hafsia Herzi. The film plunges into the heart of a changing culture, the trials and tribulations of a man and his family, and the dreams worth fighting for.

2nd, 3rd, 4th March at 7pm

Carol Reed (1968)
153’ | English | UK | Musical, Drama | PG 

In this award-winning adaptation of the Broadway musical based on the Charles Dickens novel, 9-year-old orphan Oliver Twist (Mark Lester) falls in with a group of street-urchin pickpockets led by the Artful Dodger (Jack Wild) and masterminded by the criminal Fagin (Ron Moody).

When Oliver’s intended mark, Mr. Brownlow (Joseph O’Conor), takes pity on the lad and offers him a home, Fagin’s henchman Bill Sikes (Oliver Reed) plots to kidnap the boy to keep him from talking.

*Schedules are subject to change, please check our website for updates
*Screenings are free, open to the public and are on a first-come-first-seated basis 
*Please note the ratings before bringing children or underage adults to the screenings


NYUAD Art Gallery presents The Art History Time Machine: THE FACTORY

NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery announced its first Art History Time Machine party
where visitors get to "reimagine historical art communities around the world, and reflect on the future of our own developing art communities in Abu Dhabi".

The launch event on Tuesday, 2nd February will recreate Andy Warhol’s famous studio "The Factory", a one-night event which will embody the artistic spirit of 1970s New York.

Guests will travel through time at the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery into a reimagined version of the world where Warhol produced his iconic artworks.

Nights at The Factory hosted a vibrant community of artists, musicians, actors, and free thinkers whom Warhol called “Superstars” – including stars Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Madonna, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Truman Capote. 

Visitors will have the chance to imagine their own Abu Dhabi version of an art world scene, to create their own “Superstar” character and have their Warhol-inspired Screen Tests taken.


Imagining the Factory in the Gallery (photo: Alaa Edris)

I love the sound of this and can't wait to see it for myself. According to Maya Allison, founding Director of the Art Gallery at New York University Abu Dhabi, and Chief Curator at NYU Abu Dhabi, "The gallery’s public programme aims to bring the university into dialogue with local communities with engaging events that celebrate iconic moments of creativity and cultural development."


The Art History Time Machine: THE FACTORY will take place on Tuesday, 2nd February at NYUAD's Art Gallery. New York style hot dogs, pizza, popcorn, and bananas will be on offer, while Jonny Farrow, an artist and instructor at NYU Abu Dhabi, will provide a time-travelling soundtrack to the party.

RSVP here. Directions to get to NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery can be found here.



New season of exhibitions in Dubai 

Rula Halawani - Untitled 1, For My Father series, 2015, Archival print, 100 x 150 cm, Edition of 5

A number of new exhibitions opened recently across Dubai. I've not had a chance to visit many of them yet, but here are the ones that caught my attention based on the few I visited or what I read about them (some of the exhibitions listed below opened in December).

Will report back if I have any favourites. 



Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian - Infinite Geometry
The Third Line, until 30th January 2016

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian's Infinite Geometry reflects upon the different facets and materials of her geometric practice and will feature a range of drawings, carpets, and mirror works, showing the depth of her conceptual consideration throughout her career and medium. 

While many of the drawings and mirror works are new and only produced in the last few years, the presentation also includes drawings and carpets that were made in the early 1990s, all of which have never been shown before.

Sermin Kardestuncer
XVA, until 3rd February 2016

Sermin Kardestuncer - #09, 2015, Ink on rice paper & thread, 32x32" | #08, 2014, Thread on silk paper in fabric, 20x21"

Sermin Kardestuncer’s work is organic in nature and displays loyalty to proportion and control. She is sensitive to the material she uses, and can transform the most common into the most unique. The exhibition will include sculpture, work on rice and silk paper, and fabric. The intricate and repeated patterns throughout the body of work bring a sense of wholeness and an insight on the inner workings of Kardestuncer’s thought process. The hand-stitched works are methodical and sensitive. The slow process of making the works allows the viewer to identify with Kardestuncer’s faith in possibility and her respect for tradition.

Cy Twombly And The Line Calligraphic
Total Arts at the Courtyard, until 15th February 2016  

Installation view of "Cy Twombly and the Calligraphic Line."

When the late great American artist Cy Twombly first heard that the word for ‘calligraphy’ and ‘line’ in Farsi is one and the same, he was tickled pink, exclaiming ‘That’s what I do!” It is in this spirit that Iranian artist Fereydoun Ave – who worked and travelled with Twombly for three decades, remaining close friends until Twombly’s passing in 2011 – has curated Cy Twombly And The Line Calligraphic.

Twombly, a contemporary of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, became known for his use of calligraphy-like forms and a graffiti style of painting; the lines of his delicate and ab-stract gestures often intersecting with the dripping lines of the paint itself as it made its way down the canvas. Bringing together works from his private collection, Ave has carefully selected pieces by regional artists whose practices resonate with Twombly in this spirit.

Afra Bin Dhaher - Hymns to a Sleeper
Tashkeel, 21st January - 3rd March 2016 

Bin Dhaher presents a series of photographs which depict unexceptional household items in exceptional settings. From chairs, carpets, found objects, and even a parrot, Bin Dhaher takes the simplicity of domestic living and envelopes it in an enigma of intrigue and romance. 


First Solo: Saif Mhaisen
Tashkeel - House 10 in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, 25th January - 21st February 2016

The exhibition sheds light on Saif Mhaisen’s distinct and systematic thought process. While his oil paintings reflect a resilient personal presence and vivid tactile involvement, his photographs show regard for context, preluding his paintings. The paintings explore the relationship between the skilled presence of an artist, expressed in the strokes of the palette knife, and representational subject matter that stems from the photography-referenced process, bridging mark-making and realistic depiction.

Tammam Azzam - The Road
Ayyam Gallery (Alserkal Avenue), until 3rd March 2016

Untitled, Storeys series, 2015, Acrylic on canvas, 250 x 200 cm

Tammam Azzam's The Road centers around Azzam’s first series of paintings executed since leaving Damascus over four years ago. Working on a large scale, the artist’s dense, painterly canvases place the viewer at the beginning of a still and empty road, a road that has no set direction or destination, a road with endless trajectories and countless unseen obstacles along the way.

Made up of cropped compositions, the series Storeys depicts the physical wreckage of war for as far as the eye can see. The banality of everyday life is entirely absent from the deserted settings contributing to the heavy atmosphere of loneliness and retreat. The viewer can only speculate how or even if life goes on behind the ravaged walls of multi-storey buildings. Two ambitious, site-specific installations add an immersive, three-dimensional element to the series.

Rula Halawani - For My Father
Ayyam Gallery (Alserkal Avenue), until 3rd March 2016

Untitled 5, For My Father series, 2015, Archival print, 100 x 150 cm, Edition of 5

Rula Halawani’s latest body of work details the Israeli occupation of Palestine from the vantage point of fading recollection. Creating a photographic record in remembrance of her late father, Halawani revisits several sites throughout historic Palestine, specifically the scenery that shaped her childhood memories. In the ghostly images of the series, the rolling hills, seashore, and traditional neighbourhoods of the artist’s youth are distorted through the lens of her camera as she struggles to identify what was once familiar.

Invading industry now defines the horizon. Abandoned homes are shown in a gradual process of deterioration, overgrown with weeds that sprout from crumbling facades. Once popular beaches now host solitary figures whose silhouettes are fogged at the edges as though slowly disappearing with the diminishing sand and sea.


Larissa Sansour - In the Future They Ate From The Finest Porcelain
Lawrie Shabibi, until 3rd March 2016

In the Future They Ate From The Finest Porcelain Larissa Sansour's includes screenings of her most recent film - of the same name - together with an installation and three large-scale photographic works.

The film is the artist's longest to date, and the first in which she makes no appearance other than as the narrator's voice. It is presented in colloquial Arabic as a dialogue voice-over.  A female protagonist who describes herself as a "narrative terrorist" is questioned by her interlocutor, whose identity remains unknown and is open to speculation - is she a journalist, a psychiatrist or an interrogator?

The film is a combination of sci-fi and archival imagery set against a deeply mesmerizing musical score and ambiguous time and place. At times it projects itself into the past and at others propels itself into the future with a view to creating a manufactured history.


White Cube... Literally
Gallery IVDE, until 3rd March 2016

Annabel Daou - Unloaded 2015 - Plaster and ink on repair tape - 11 dices of 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm each

The exhibition takes the white cube form as a playful terrain to challenge the 'reduction of artworks to their formal aspects' when it comes to a display inside the white cube. This series of white cubes ranges from conceptual, post-conceptual, minimal and post-minimal works to contemporary practices, and includes newly-commissioned works and iconic contributions from the mid-20th century. A documentation space inside the gallery is dedicated to the discursive material around the notion of the white cube.


but even if I cannot see the sun
Grey Noise, until 5th March 2016

Charbel-joseph H. Boutros - No Light In White Light / Night - Cartography, spray and carbon on paper, 50 x 70 cm

Adapt the eyes to the darkness
A black color everywhere
Something close to the moon
Days collapse through the fog
Presence of little or no reflections
A very dark color in space
Now, complete absorption of light

An uncertain future appears
Owing to the absence of light
A doubt of invisibility persists
Black, the opposite of white
White as the black of the night
The present is a permanent nightfall
A feeling that never disappears

Read the rest here.



If you'd like to see more exhibitions, I suggest you visit which includes a comprehensive listing of exhibitions across the UAE.




The Other Side - live music gigs in Dubai

The Other Side is an independently run live music event that started in Dubai last summer. The aim is to host local and regional bands, musicians and DJs from the region. It's a great initiative since we only have a handful of venues that commit to promoting live acts from this region.

The first season of The Other Side started last July and went on till November 2015. I never had a chance to attend any of the gigs, but heard very good feedback from people I know that went.

The gigs take place at & Lounge (AND Lounge) in The Address Hotel Dubai Marina. The venue looks small and cosy and a much needed place for gigs like this, albeit being in a five star hotel. 

The Wanton Bishops at The Other Side on 31st July 2015

Bosaina at The Other Side on 11th September 2015


Here's what the first season of The Other Side looked like. It included The Wanton Bishops, Bosaina, Safar, Hana Malhas Music Page, Z the People, Hollie Cook, Zeid and the wings and Loopstache.

Season 1 Showreel (9 shows in 2:12)

Did you come to The Other Side? Our last season in 2:12. Relive the moments with us. WATCH now.

Posted by The Other Side on Friday, 1 January 2016



New season of The Other Side

The second season starts this month, on Friday, 29th January with Who Killed Bruce Lee?. The rest of the line up has not yet been announced, but watch this space. 

Tickets in advance, AED 100 available here. Tickets at the venue: AED120 (cash only). Doors open at 9pm.


Who Killed Bruce Lee's unique sound has evolved with the music scene in Beirut since 2009. What started out as spiced up cover tracks for bands like The Strokes and LCD Soundsystem quickly snowballed into a Who Killed Bruce Lee EP with originals that has Beirut’s indie music fans wanting more on stages set up in the city’s most coveted underground venues.

Beirut might not strike one as a city where a rising electro-rock band might be based. The diversity of the 7000-year-old city is just as picky with its musical tastes. But WKBL’s winning combination of lo-fi and electro-punk rock sounds makes the crowd that shows up at their gigs
as wide as it is hard to categorize.

Elvis (2015)


Gypsy King (2015)


Pool Party (2013)


If you're in Dubai, go support local and regional bands. We need more of this. I hope to go to some of the gigs this season.

My only gripe with The Other Side is when this description is included in the press release and Facebook event pages:

The Other Side is an indie live music concept in Dubai inspired by the live music scenes of Williamsburg Brooklyn, SXSW Austin, Shoreditch London, New Orleans, and others.

There's live indie music in all parts of the world and if these kind of comparisons is to 'explain' to music fans in Dubai on what to expect, then I find it both condescending and pretentious. Music promoters need to be more confident than saying we're bringing you an event just like they do in New York and London.

I'd rather the promoters shout out loud that local and regional bands have a dedicated venue where they can play live original music, and for music lovers in Dubai to hear new music. That would get me out of the door and pay for a ticket. Surely I'm not the only one that feels that way.




Happy Birthday Diane Lane


Happy 51st birthday to Diane Lane. Celebrate it by watching this double bill:

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains
Dir. Lou Adler, 1982

Streets of Fire
Dir. Ry Cooder, 1984

[image is from Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains]


Happy Birthday David Lynch 

David Lynch turns 70 this week. Happy, happiest birthday David Lynch.

Some of Lynch's words of wisdom via BFI:

On inspiration

“Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.”

On coffee

“Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.”

On diners

“There’s a safety in thinking in a diner. You can have your coffee or your milkshake, and you can go off into strange dark areas, and always come back to the safety of the diner.”

On curtains

“I don’t know where it came from, but I love curtains. There is something so incredibly cosmically magical about curtains.”

On watching films

“I’m not a real film buff. Unfortunately, I don’t have time. I just don’t go. And I become very nervous when I go to a film because I worry so much about the director and it is hard for me to digest my popcorn.”

On failing

“It’s so freeing, it’s beautiful in a way, to have a great failure. There’s nowhere to go but up.”


Read the complete post here


[image via Criterion]



Distrital Festival 2016 on Festival Scope - a selection of independent Mexican cinema


After writing about the 2016 edition of My French Film Festival, I found out Festival Scope is screening a selection of recent independent Mexican cinema, free to watch and available worldwide. I am loving the mini film festivals online.

There are seven films in total, all with English subtitles. Each film is available online for a week. The screenings started on 22nd January and on till 5th February.

Log on and sign up here,