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Tea with Culture

Podcast featuring discussions and interviews about the cultural happenings in the United Arab Emirates presented by Hind Mezaina (The Culturist) and Wael Hattar.


RIP Jonathan Demme


RIP Jonathan Demme, 22nd February 1944 - 26the April 2017.

Via The Jonathan Demme Close-Up by Jacob T. Swinney

Demme's approach to the close-up is effective on many emotional levels, and this is largely due to the eye/lens relationship. When Dr. Hannibal Lecter hisses at Agent Clarice Starling, we feel equally victimized. As Andrew Beckett succumbs to AIDS, we feel an overwhelming sensation of sympathy. These characters seem to be looking at us, and we therefore connect on a deeper level. Examining a Demme close-up out of context may seem like breaking the fourth wall, but within the film, Demme utilizes the shots so naturally and fluidly that we never leave the cinematic realm.  



Jonathan Demme has lots of good movies to his name, but I will leave you with this New Order video he directed mid 1980s. You can read about and see more music videos by him here.  





Exhibition: Suite Egyptienne by Fouad ElKhoury at The Third Line

Fouad Elkoury, Suite Egyptienne, 2017, Installation ViewFouad Elkoury, Suite Egyptienne, 2017, Installation View 

Fouad ElKhoury's Suite Egyptienne consists of more than 80 photos from the late 1980s. These photos, many of which are being exhibited for the first time can be seen at The Third Line. The photos are printed in different sizes, ranging from 12x18 cm to 21x14 cm and a few blown up wallpaper prints. The smaller photos feel the most intimate, I guess because they draw you in to take a closer look.

Walking by each wall and looking at each photo, the different sizes felt like they interrupted the visual flow and rhythm of the series. I wonder what would this exhibition look and feel like if all the smaller sized prints were printed much larger, to me they are the much stronger works. Regardless of size or frame, there's a beauty to the photos that cannot be denied. They are intimate, mysterious and cinematic. If you are in Dubai, do make time visit this exhibition and spend time with these photos. It is on until 16th May 2017. 


Suite Egyptienne, an account of the artist’s photographic travels through Egypt starting in the late 80’s. Using Gustave Flaubert and Maxime Du Camp as guides, Fouad followed their footsteps along the Nile valley nearly 150 years later.  

In 1849, Gustave Flaubert and his friend Maxime du Camp embarked on a journey through Egypt commissioned by the French Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce and the Académie des Instructions in Paris respectively. Emblem of the East to the French Bourgeoisie, both were asked to report on ‘the Orient’ which subsequently became central to Flaubert’s writings.

A symbol of Flaubert’s romance with the East was his encounter with Kuchuk Hanem, the famed courtesan from Esna which unexpectedly imposed poetry and romance on the writer’s study of Egypt.

Considered by Fouad Elkoury the subject of some of Flaubert’s most beautiful pages, she returns in his Suite Egyptienne. Whilst in pursuit of Flaubert and Du Camp’s voyage, accompanied by his then wife, Nada, a subconscious overlap of narratives was created. Kuchuk Hanem, 1990, picturing Nada on a sofa playfully hiding her face behind a fan, is Fouad’s reading of Flaubert’s encounter. Nada became the protagonist in Fouad’s depiction of Egypt, transforming the 150-year-old Orientalist narrative into a personal fiction.


These are some of my favourite photos from the exhibition. 


Suite Egyptienne is also a photo book featuring the same series and text by Fouad ElKhoury.   


Cassius ft. Cat Power Pharrell Williams - Go Up



This is a terrific music video collage by Alexandre Courtes for the song Go Up by Cassius featuring Cat Power Pharrell Williams.


DIFF365@VOX by Dubai International Film Festival


Dubai International Film Festival announced it will screen films from around the world all year long at a dedicated screen DIFF365@VOX in VOX Cinemas in Mall of the Emirates. 

Film fans can now look forward to a brand new initiative from VOX Cinemas, du and DIFF that will bring all year round screenings of the best independent cinema through the dedicated new screening theatre DIFF 365@VOX powered by du at VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates in Dubai. 

DIFF 365@VOX powered by du will champion films that entertain, challenge and expand film fans perspectives. Independent films that might not traditionally be released at cinemas across the UAE and celebrate talent outside of the big studio releases will be presented throughout the year.   


I am glad this is finally happening. It's about time there's an option all year to watch films that are 'not traditionally released' in UAE cinemas, at least in Dubai. I do hope this will be something that can also take place across the UAE, cinemas should work together on something like this.

Whilst the The Scene Club has been filling that gap so far with its bi-monthly screenings at VOX Cinemas in Mall of the Emirates, which is admirable efforts by them, it is still not enough. There are also several pop up film screenings (both indoors and outdoors) hosted by the film platform Cinema Akil, it is simply just not the same as watching films in cinemas. 

DIFF365@VOX will screen a new film every two weeks, each film will be on for two weeks and screening multiple times every day. This is the line up and schedule so far:

  • I, Danie Blake (20 April - 3 May 2017)
  • Hotel Salvation (4 - 17 May 2017)
  • A Man Called Ove (18 - 31 May 2017)
  • Django (1 - 14 June 2017)
  • Maudie (15 - 28 June 2017)



People in Dubai are no longer allowed to complain about the lack of film options at the cinema. Please support this and spread the word. Tickets can be purchased on the VOX website on the week of release


Dubai Garden Glow Park 

I recently visited Dubai Garden Glow. There are lit and glowing objects in all shapes and sizes. There's even a mini replica of Burj Khalifa. Everything is made of recyclyed materials and low electricity consumption bulbs.

The whole place looks very festive, almost Christmassy.  It felt surreal but I also had fun walking around. I encourage you to go. The park is open until 31st May and re-opens in November. There are several stalls serving food too. 

Here are photos I took from my walk around the park.


All photos © Hind Mezaina.

Park details:
- Entry tickets are only valid until 31st May 2017, - AED 60 per person
- Free entry for children below 3 years and handicapped guests
- Saturdays to Wednesdays: 04:00 PM - 12:00 AM, Thursdays, Fridays & Public Holidays: 04:00 PM - 01:00 AM (From 1st MAY 2017 : Saturdays to Wednesdays: 06:00 PM - 12:00 AM, Thursdays, Fridays & Public Holidays: 06:00 PM - 01:00 AM)  


Art and culture top picks for April-June 2017 on Tea with Culture Podcast

Listen to this episode Wael Hattar and I recorded for our Tea with Culture podcast sharing our art and culture top picks for this season. 




The episode includes:

1. Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark Cinema Concert at Dubai Opera 
2. Shakespeare Under the Stars - Macbeth in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman
3. Performances at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Center

Exhibitions in Dubai:
4. Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme - And Yet My Mask is Powerful I at Art Jameel Project Space 
5. Samia Halaby - Illuminated Space/Documentary Drawings of the Kafr Qasem Massacre at Ayyam Gallery
6. Joshua Watts - Emergent Momenta at FN Design 
7. Vikram Divecha - Minor Work at IVDE 
8. Lala Rukh - sagar at Grey Noise
9. Artist Run New York: The Seventies at Jean Paul Najjar
10. Fouad Elkhoury - Suite Egyptienne at The Thirdline
11. Image of Self at Total Arts in The Courtyard
12. Fari Bradley - STITCHES TO SAVE 9 WITH at The Mine
13. Abdolreza Aminlari - remnants, Aidan Salakhova’s - (In) Stability, Ammar Al Attar - The Medium is the Message at Cuadro
14. Adel El Siwi - The Face and Beyond at Artspace
15. Abbas Kiarostami - The Everlasting Roots at The Farjam Foundation

Exhibitions in Abu Dhabi:
17. But We Cannot See Them: Tracing the UAE Art Community 1988-2008 at NYUAD Art Gallery 
18. Bayn - The In-Between and Lest We Forget Emirati Adornment: Tangible & Intangible at Warehouse 421 
19. Art of Nature by ADMAF in Umm Al Emarat Park

Exhibitions in Sharjah:
20. Sadik Kwaish Alfraji - Once Upon A Time: Hadiqat Al Umma at Maraya
21. Design House 2017: Change, Coordinates + Someone Else at 1971 - Design Space 
22. Sharjah Biennial 13 - Tamawuj


Film and TV Viewing Log - March 2017

Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)

Paradise Trilogy by Ulrich Seidl

Paradise: Love (2012) ★★★★
Paradise: Faith (2012) ★★★
Paradise: Hope (2013) ★★★½ 

Demons by Lamberto Bava
Demons (1985) ★★★
Demons 2 (1986) ★★

Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016) - second viewing

Closely Watched Trains (Jiri Menzel, 1966)
Branded to Kill (Seijun Suzuki, 1967)
Step by Step (Ossama Mohammed, 1978) 
Modern Romance (Albert Brooks, 1981)
Tomboy (Celine Sciamma, 2011) 
Free Radicals: A History of Experimanetal Film (Pip Chodorov, 2012)
Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017) 
I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore (Macon Blair, 2017) 

The Trouble with Angels (Ida Lopino 1966)
The King of Escape (Alain Guiraudie, 2009)
Slovenian Girl (Damjan Kozole, 2009)
Laurence Anyways (Xavier Dolan, 2012) 
The Love Witch (Anna Biller, 2016)
Life (Daniel Espinosa, 2017) 
Logan (James Mangold, 2017) 
Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You (Ahmed Elghoneimy, 2017)   

Tiny Furniture (Lena Dunham, 2010) 
The Worthy (Ali F. Mostafa, 2016) 

Survivor: Game Changers - Season 34 - Episodes 1, 2, 3, 4 ★★★★


From Z to A and Zaha Again by Shumon Basar

Earlier this year, Shumon Basar recorded this reading dedicated to Zaha Hadid who passed away last year on 31st March 2016. It was for the Zaha Hadid: Early Paintings and Drawings exhibition at the Serpentine Slacker Gallery in London.  

Shumon Basar is a writer, thinker and cultural critic. Between 1996 and 1999 he worked at the then-named Office of Zaha Hadid. Here for a Facebook Live post, he reads his lexicon dedicated to Hadid 'From Z to A and Zaha Again' next to The Peak, at the private view of Zaha Hadid: Early Paintings and Drawings. 


Exhibition: sagar by Lala Rukh at Grey Noise  


I love these works by Lala Rukh from her series titled "sagar" which I saw at Grey Noise. They are quiet, poetic and contemplative. I was happy staring into them and mometarily escaping the present moment. 


Lala Rukh’s first solo exhibition in Dubai entitled sagar comprises of a collection of enigmatic photographs of the sea that make her meditations on the nature of time and transience palpable. As a parallel photographic practice, they locate Lala’s travels between years 1992-2005 and extend her better known drawing oeuvre such as ‘River in an Ocean’ series, 1992 also on display.

The titles in the photographic sets mark sites across Sri Lanka, India, Nepal and Burma where as though a seafarer traversing with a lens, the artist has stopped to take stock. Almost serendipitously, there is quietness as we sense the boatman’s oars gliding over the waters of Lake Inle or the River Irrawaddy. Lala captures the setting sun, registers the raising moon rays playing catch with the shifting tide. She condenses yet again life and time into the occasional vignette of a seagull diving for fish. Sets of photographs in Pegasus Reef, 1996 look like the lines that score our palms. In Beruwela 3, 1992 the viewer apprehends in the horizon two figures perched on rocks that one imagines are lovers. In Irrawaddy x, 2005 the silhouette of a lone man on his boat is possibly a fisherman.

Lala uses her lens as an undistracted viewer who sees both time and immutability joined in the invisible arch on which life is suspended. In their evocation of tidal movements these works touch up the philosophical question of being and nothingness creating a poetic portrayal of ebb and flow that is life.  


The photos I took of them don't do them justice, so make sure you go and see these works and the rest of the series for yourself. The exhibition is on until 13th May 2017.  


Art Dubai 2017 Review on Tea with Culture Podcast

Rafael Rozendaal - Into Time, 2016 at Upstream Gallery

In the latest episode of the Tew with Culture podcast, Wael Hattar and I discuss the 11th edition of Art Dubai. We highlight the changes we noticed with the new fair director, Myrna Ayad. We discuss works by this year's Abraaj Group Art Prize winner Rana Begum and the shortlisted artists, Doa Aly, Sarah Abu Abdallah and Raha Raissnia.

We discuss the various talks that took place across the fair, and the role and presence of Art Dubai's sponsors and partners. We also ask look at the changes to A.i.R Dubai and list some of our favourite works we saw at the different galleries. 


Please subscribe/follow our podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud if you are interested in more discussions about art and culture in Dubai and beyond.  


Here's a selection of photos from the fair I shared on Twitter: