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European Film Screenings in Abu Dhabi and Dubai

There is a mini European film festival coming up hosted by the Italian Embassy and the European Delegation to the UAE.

The first edition of the European Film Screenings will take place in Abu Dhabi from 18th-24th September in VOX Cinemas in Marina Mall and in Dubai from 19th-25th September in VOX Cinemas in Mercato Mall. 

There will be films from Italy, Germany, France, UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Czeck Republic, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Sweden and Austria. Each screening will be preceded with a short film from the United Arab Emirates. All screenings are free of charge and seats are allocated on a first come/first serve basis.

On Saturday, 20th September at 3pm at VOX Cinemas in Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi, there will a panel panel discussion on film co-productions with a panel featuring representatives of the European film industry and Emirati film directors. 

Below is the list of films and screening schedule in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. You can download the detailed schedule here

Go early, grab a seat and enjoy the movies. Make sure you don't miss The Great Beauty, my favourite film from last year.

The Great Beauty  

Abu Dhabi - Thursday, 18th September at 8pm
Dubai - Friday, 19th September at 8pm

The Ice Dragon 

Abu Dhabi - Friday, 19th September at 6pm
Dubai - Saturday, 20th September at 6pm 


Paris Je T'aime 

Abu Dhabi - Friday, 19th September at 8pm
Dubai - Saturday, 20th September at 8pm 



Abu Dhabi - Saturday, 20th September at 6pm
Dubai - Sunday, 21st September at 6pm  


Abu Dhabi - Friday, 19th September at 8pm
Dubai - Saturday, 20th September at 8pm  

A Morte de Carlos Gardel 

Abu Dhabi - Sunday, 21st September at 6pm
Dubai - Monday, 22nd September at 6pm  

Der Stille Berg 
Abu Dhabi - Sunday, 21st September at 8pm
Dubai - Monday, 22nd September at 8pm  


Abu Dhabi - Monday, 22nd September at 6pm
Dubai - Tuesday, 23rd September at 6pm   


Walesa: Man of Hope 

Abu Dhabi - Monday, 22nd September at 8pm
Dubai - Tuesday, 23rd September at 8pm   


London: The Modern Babylon 

Abu Dhabi - Tuesday, 23rd September at 6pm
Dubai - Wednesday, 24th September at 6pm   


Carmina or Blow Up 

Abu Dhabi - Tuesday, 23rd September at 8pm
Dubai - Wednesday, 24th September at 8pm  

Blind Spot 

Abu Dhabi - Wednesday, 24th September at 6pm
Dubai - Thursday, 25th September at 6pm   


Goodbye Lenin

Abu Dhabi - Wednesday, 24th September at 8pm
Dubai - Thursday, 25th September at 8pm    


Photo diary from Unseen Photo Fair 2013 and Amsterdam

Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam is a photography fair focused on undiscovered photography talent and unseen work by established photographers. I attended last year for the first time and planning to attend the thrid edition which will take place next week, 18th-21st September. 

Described as a "fair with a festival flair", it is quite an enjoyable and relaxed art fair compared to the ones I've attended. It's held in a park, and includes outdoor exhibitions, talks, book market and of

I did notice some work that has very much been seen over the past few years, like Richard Mosse's photos from Congo shot on infrared film. So I do hope the upcoming edition will stick to really showing 'unseen' work.

Here's a video showing highlights from last year and below it are photos I took from the fair that I never had a chance to share with you here. I've also added photos I took of Amsterdam, a beautiul city that I am looking forward to visiting again. 

Around Unseen

Outdoor exhibition of Foam Talent 2013 winners 

Galleries at Unseen

Unseen Book Market (my favourite part of the fair)


Unseen Living Room where informal talks and screenings were held here. We even had an impromptu talk with Martin Parr on the second day of the festival which was quite entertaining. A summary of that talk can be found here

JR's Inside Out project, you can read more about it here.


Self Publish Be Happy Totem and Taboo, a site-specific installation Totem made of materials found at the fair to create a makeshift sculpture turned into a temporary studio where visitors of the fair were photographed. 

Why I Love This Book, an independent website that features 1-minute book review videos. The recording too place inside this van. You can see some of the reviews here.

Around Amsterdam 

I went as soon as it opened so I could enjoy looking at Rembrandt's Night Watch without fighting my way through a crowd. I was so pleased when I walked the room had space to walk in and admire the painting up close (image below).


Stadsarchief (Amsterdam City Archives), I love this building. 

Around the city 


Around the canals of Amsterdam 



Never Forget: An illustrated guide to Dubai's best kept secrets by Khalid Mezaina


Never Forget is an illustrated guide to Dubai's best kept secrets by Khalid Mezaina. The book features four main areas in Dubai: Satwa, Karama, Bur Dubai and Deira and includes simple line drawings of iconic architecture in the featured areas. It is also filled with games for individuals to play, plus you can personalise the book by adding your own words.  

Never Forget is an activity book for the young and young at heart. This illustrated publication features the underappreciated areas of Dubai. Learn about the city’s best-kept secrets and colour or draw your way for an amusing read.
It pays homage to some of the city's best kept secrets, which are slowly forgotten for Dubai's more new, modern areas.

The book was published last year and availble in select stores, but will be officially be launched on Tuesday, 9th September 2014 at Creekside.

The launch will include a talk, so you can meet Khalid and ask him any questions, and hopefully buy the book. I strongly encourge you to buy the book. I will be there to support my brother, so please come and say hello. 

This is what the book looks like:

Here are some images from the book:  





Textile Souq 






Event details
Date: Tuesday, 9th September 2014 at 7pm 
Venue: Creekside, Bur Dubai (location map)
Event page on Facebook 



RIP Richard Attenborough

Gandhi was the first movie I watched in the cinema. It started my love affair with cinema, and that is how I will always remember Richard Attenborough. 

Below is an extract from an essay by Max Winter and a video by Nelson Carvajal from Press Play which looks back at Richard Attenborough's career as an actor and director. 


The actor and director whom most would know either for his turn in Jurassic Park or for directing vast films like Gandhi or Chaplin had other exploits up his sleeve as well: an early film role was Pinkie in Brighton Rock, a movie about violence and terror on the English seaside birthed from the fog-swept, crime-obsessed mind of Graham Greene.

What’s most evident, in watching Attenborough's films and considering his career, is a sense of embodiment, of polymathy. On the most basic level, this could mean he was able to act and direct with equal ability. To play Pinkie as a young man and then play Santa Claus (in Miracle on 34th Street) or a deranged scientist late in life suggests, at the very least, range, but it also indicates that he possessed the kind of intelligence invaluable to successful actors: the ability to imagine someone you have never met, and then someone else, and then someone else, and never let anyone see the workings of your imagination.

Read the full essay here.  





RIP Richard Attenborough, 1923-2014.



Thank you for coming to The Culturist's 4 ¾ years blog party

© Hind Mezaina - Yummy brownies from Oushé

Thanks to everyone that came to my blog party last night to celebrate 4 ¾ years of The Culturist. It was great to see so many old and new friends (and apologies if I didn't get a chance to talk to everyone). I had fun, and hope you had fun too.

Oddly enough, I didn't photograph much that night, in fact, I gave up on it early into the night. It was good to enjoy the moment without having to 'record it'. 

I enjoyed DJing (or at least tried to), but I also had help from my music comrades Melina and Wael who also deejayed at the party. The night wouldn't have been the same without them, so massive thanks and hugs to them.

Thanks to the ones that stayed on the dance floor for most of the night. Thanks to Oushé for the yummy brownies (pictured above) and thanks to Nawwara for the lovely venue, for hosting the party and the helpful and attentative team working there. 


This was the last song I played at the party, and the mood I've been ever since (albeit a little tired). "I feel jolly good today…"



Till next time. x



Galleries Night at Alserkal Avenue on 15th September 2014


Galleries Night at Alserkal Avenue is back this month on Monday, 15th September 2014 to mark the start of the new 2014-2015 arts season, after a break over the summer period.

There will be several new exhibitions opening that night, plus some events and entertainment. You can find the full line up here. Here are my top five picks for the night: 


Carbon 12 

Bernard Buhmann - Henriette (2014)

Carbon 12 will present Bernard Buhmann’s second solo show, The Pretenders, characters of his creation as they preform their lives for all to see.

The inhabitants of the paintings tell an abstract story as they cavort across the canvas. Who are they and what makes them what they are? Each painting has its own fiction, but when seen together they allude to a much larger issue. 

Surrealist in style, Buhmann’s technique is defined by color hues, subject illusion, and precarious perspectives. Using his background in sociology and painting from the University of Applied Arts and the University of Vienna, Buhmann explores issues of how to find ones self in social and individual life in times of uncertainty and rapids change. 


Green Art Gallery 

Seif Wanly, Untitled, c. 1953, Pastel on canson paper, 30.5 x 47 cm

Green Art Gallery’s opening exhibition is entitled Works On Paper: Hikayat consists of over 50 works on paper by Modern Arab artists including Khouzayma Alwani, Mahmoud Hammad and Adham Ismail, to name a few.

Taking storytelling as its main theme, the exhibition brings together works that offer a glimpse of drawing’s potential to make cultural, social, and political proposals or stories, through diverse formal processes.


Grey Noise

Mariam Suhail - Interruptions 1 (one part of a four piece installation) 

Grey Noise gallery will be showcasing Pakistani artist Mariam Suhail’s first solo show in Dubai. The exhibition will have a set of works that come together as Accidental Excavations of objects and ideas.

Comprising interventions into books, scanner malfunctions, discovery of old material and information about the birth of a new city, the show presents images, prints and texts that lie somewhere in the space between studies and proposals.


Gulf Photo Plus

Khalid Hasan

Gulf Photo Plus will welcome visitors from to meet and chat with Khaled Hasan and Neo Ntsoma, two of the six exhibiting photographers of Majority World, a unique photo agency that highlights and supports inspiring works by photographers from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

Focusing on these diverse continents, Majority World encourages stories to be told by photographers in their own context, sharing unique insight into local cultures, environments and development issues. 


Lawrie Shabibi

Ra di Martino - Waking up at Night in the Middle of the Day #2, 2010 | Archival pigment print on Baryta paper 70 x 100 cm / 27 1/2 x 39 3/8 in

Lawrie Shabibi will open Art & Application, a group exhibition that brings together six contemporary artists from around the world: Rä di Martino, Littlewhitehead, Arthur Prior, David Rickard, Darren Harvey-Regan and Setareh Shahbazi.

Curated by London based William Lunn, this exhibition offers a selection from the breadth of diverse outcomes that result from artists’ use of photography within a broader multi-media practice.



The complete line up of exhibitions and events can be found here.   
Event page on Facebook



Exhibition: Jeremy Deller – English Magic at DUCTAC

Jeremy Deller - Still from the film English Magic, 2013, Courtesy the Artist

The art season in Dubai is back in full gear this month. The exhibition I am most excited about is Jeremy Deller's English Magic at DUCTAC, opening on Wednesday, 10th September and will run till Sunday, 21st September 2014.

Jeremy Deller represented Great Britain at the 2013 Venice Biennale and the artwork on show at DUCTAC formed part of the exhibition in Venice. The Great Britain pavilion was my favourite at the Venice Biennale, so I am extremely happy some of the work from English Magic will come to Dubai. 

The exhibition reflects the roots of much of Deller's work, focusing on British society - its people, icons, myths, folklore and its cultural and political history. He weaves together high and low, popular and rarefied to create unique and thought provoking work. 

English Magic addresses events from the past, present and an imagined future. Deller frames these instances in a way that is contemporary but also true to the original subject, weaving a narrative that is almost psychedelic; hovering delicately between fact and fiction, real and imagined. (via


The exhibition will include the film English Magic that was central to the British Pavilion exhibition, plus a making-of documentary and a short film from Vinyl Factory about how Deller put together the music that runs as a thread through the English Magic project. 

The film English Magic features "visual and thematic elements that reflect Deller's interest in the diverse nature of British society and its broad cultural, socio-political and economic history." It includes steel drum versions of Vaughan Williams 'Symphony in D minor', David Bowie's 'The Man Who Sold The World' and A Guy Called Gerald's 'Voodoo Ray' performed by the Melodians Steel Orchestra.

The film is both contemptous and humourous, just like the rest of the exhibition. I had a grin from ear to ear just because of the music. Here, have a listen. 




The following are photos I took of English Magic last year at the Venice Biennale. I hope some of this work will be exhibited at DUCTAC. Dubai, don't miss this. 

Jeremy Deller - We Sit Starving Amidst our Gold, British Pavilion 2013

Jeremy Deller - A Good Day for Cyclists, British Pavilion 2013

Jeremy Deller - Ooh-oo-hoo ah-ha ha yeah, Installation view, British Pavilion 2013

Screening of the film English Magic




Event details
Date: Opening, Wednesday, 10th September at 7pm. Exhibition will run till Sunday, 21st September 2014. 9am-10pm (Fridays 2pm-10pm)
Venue: The Gallery of Light, DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai  
Free entry.




Blog Party - The Culturist celebrates 4 ¾ years


Earlier this week I announced I will be throwing a party to celebrate 4 ¾ years of the blog. And now, time for more details. 

Why 4 ¾?
I've been wanting to throw a blog party for the past couple of years and with the blog turning 5 this December, I told myself this has to be the year.

Whilst looking around for a good location, I was offered a space for free at the JW Mariott Marquis on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai and with a help of a couple of friends, we agreed to throw the party sooner rather than later. Hence the 4 ¾ birthday party. 


Party details 
The party will be on Thursday, 4th September from 7pm till late and will be held at Nawwara which consists of a restaurant and a lounge. We will be in the lounge area.

There will be free canapés but a pay bar serving drinks for alcohol and non-alcohol drinkers, even coffee will be available.

Most importantly, there will be a dance area and lots of music. My friends and I will put together a playlist and DJ throughout the night. So dancing is mandatory.

One important note about the dance area, it will strictly be non-smoking area. Many of us are sick and tired of smelling like ashtrays at the end of most nights out in Dubai. So if you agree, don't miss this party. 

How to get there
Nawarra, Mariott Marquis on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. Here's the location map

It is an open invite, but if you will attend, please RSVP so I can keep track of numbers. You can RSVP on Facebook, I created an event page for the party, or just RSVP here by leaving a comment. Or if you follow me on Twitter, just say something there.


The aim is to have a good time and dance. Here's a track to get you in the mood, The Other Tribe's We Should Be Dancing (Ryan Riot Remix).




(Thanks Wael for helping out with the party flyer.) 


Electro Shaabi version of We Will Rock You by NEOBYRD


Earlier today I stumbled upon this track on Twitter by NEOBYRD and it made me laugh and love it for several reasons:

- The electro shaabi version of Queen's We Will Rock You will feel like you've been injected with a high dose of energy, you won't know what hit you. Electro shaabi version of any well known song will probably do that. If you are not familiar with electro shaabi, The Quietus wrote a very good series about it last year

- The title احنا اسفين يا كوين ("ihna asfeen ya Queen" translation: we are sorry Queen) just cracked me up. If you read/speak Arabic you will appreciate the rhyme and the joke. 

- The choice of artwork for this track.

- The comments that appear as the song is streaming on Soundcloud (click below). Here are some examples. It's hard to translate, they're all in Egyptian slang and feel like perfect reactions to the track. 

الواقع اتفشخ

ايه اللي عاملينه ده :/ 

- It will make you feel like you're at a big fat Egyptian wedding. 



NEOBYRD is an Egyptian electronic musician and record producer (I featured him on this blog a few years ago). 

Wael Alaa is an electronic musician and record producer known by his stage name NEOBYRD, who first emerged from the underground electronic scene in Cairo with his 2011 album release, "Transbyrd".

His songs display a notable influence by many of the greats including Michael Jackson, Queen, and Depeche Mode. Performing with a trademark chicken-head mask, NEOBYRD has become a staple in the Cairo music scene. 


You can listen to his music here



[hat tip @reorientmag]


Photobook Bristol 2014 - The Future of Photobooks


If you are interested in photobooks, publishing photobooks and the future of photobooks, you will find this talk very informative and useful.

The talk addresses digital publications vs analogue prints of photobooks (guess what, people still prefer a physical book), the role of the small specialist bookshops, the challenges in financing and funding and distributing photobooks, and the longevity of a physical book.

Moderated by Martin Parr, the panel includes Michael Mack, Dewi Lewis, Thijs groot Wassink and Stephen Gill. The talk is 48 minutes long and worth watchng and listening to.


[hat tip @jmcolberg