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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.


La Fête du Cinéma at The Space, Abu Dhabi


The Institut Français in Abu Dhabi is hosting La Fête du Cinéma at The Space between 23rd and 30th June. There will be five French language films with English subtitles screened during that week, all free to attend.

Here's the schedule:

Thursday, 23rd June 2016 at 8.00pm

The 400 Blows
Director: Francois Truffaut
1959 | 99 mins | French | English Subtitles | G

13-year-old Antoine (Jean-Pierre Léaud) can't seem to do anything right. His dysfunctional parents yell at him, his spiteful schoolteacher picks on him and luck just never goes his way. Despite his efforts at patience, one day it all becomes too much and Antoine throws in the towel, choosing to take his chances on the Paris streets. At times joyous and at others bitterly hard, his new life brings a newfound freedom - one that Antoine will follow up to its painful, poignant and beautiful conclusion.

Francois Truffaut's first feature film and arguably the starting point of the Nouvelle Vague, 'The 400 Blows' is a true landmark in French cinema. Raw, honest and intensely emotional, it captures youth in startlingly vivid detail and holds a mesmerising, unflinching mirror up to life itself.


Saturday, 25th June 2016 at 3.00pm

Les parapluies de Cherbourg / The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Director: Jacques Demy
1964 | 92 mins | French | English Subtitles | G

An angelically beautiful Catherine Deneuve was launched to stardom by this dazzling musical heart-tugger from Jacques Demy. She plays an umbrella-shop owner’s delicate daughter, glowing with first love for a handsome garage mechanic, played by Nino Castelnuovo.

When the boy is shipped off to fight in Algeria, the two lovers must grow up quickly. Exquisitely designed in a kaleidoscope of colors, and told entirely through the lilting songs of the great composer Michel Legrand, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is one of the most revered and unorthodox movie musicals of all time.


Saturday, 25th June 2016 at 8.00pm 

Pierrot le Fou
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
1965 | France | 110 mins | French | English Subtitles | 15+

Dissatisfied in marriage and life, Ferdinand (Jean-Paul Belmondo) takes to the road with the babysitter, his ex-lover Marianne Renoir (Anna Karina), and leaves the bourgeoisie behind. Yet this is no normal road trip: genius auteur Jean-Luc Godard’s 10th feature in six years is a stylish mash-up of consumerist satire, politics, and comic-book aesthetics, as well as a violent, zigzag tale of, as Godard called them, “the last romantic couple.”

With blissful color imagery by cinematographer Raoul Coutard and Belmondo and Karina at their most animated, Pierrot le fou is one of the high points of the French New Wave, and was Godard’s last frolic before he moved ever further into radical cinema.



Monday, 27th June 2016 at 8.00pm

Le Havre
Director: Aki Kaurismäki
2011 | 93 mins | French | English Subtitles | G



In this warmhearted comic yarn from Aki Kaurismäki, fate throws the young African refugee Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) into the path of Marcel Marx (André Wilms), a kindly old bohemian who shines shoes for a living in the French harbor city Le Havre.

With inborn optimism and the support of his tight-knit community, Marcel stands up to the officials doggedly pursuing the boy for deportation. A political fairy tale that exists somewhere between the reality of contemporary France and the classic French cinema of the past, Le Havre is a charming, deadpan delight and one of the Finnish director’s finest films.



Thursday, 30th June 2016 at 8.00pm

La Cérémonie
Directed by Claude Chabrol
1996 | 112 mins | French | English Subtitles | 15+

Adapted from Ruth Rendell's classic best seller, Claude Chabrol earns his 'French Hitchcock' tag with one of his most shocking and unforgettable films. Sophie, an introverted and illiterate young woman, is hired as a maid by the burgeous Lelievre family - Catherine (Jacqueline Bisset), Georges and their children - to work on the manor they live in the contryside of France.

They are generous and kind to Sophie, but their genuine attempts to help her are taken as offensive by the young girl. In the meantime, Sophie befriends the postmistress Jeanne (Isabelle Huppert) who has a disturbed history and manipulates the maid against the Lelievre's.


Cinema Akil - A Hard Day's Night film screenings in June 

A Hard Day's Night is the theme for Cinema Akil's summer film screenings. The screenings will take place between 8th June and 2nd September 2016 in the Cinema Room in A4 Space at Alserkal Avenue

This selection of films is inspired by the overarching themes of art production, dissemination and discourse, which shape the global art world. The films in A Hard Day’s Night will interrogate notions of the workforce, manufacturing processes and industry.

After going through the complete list of films, I don't see how they inspire "overarching themes of art production, dissemination and discourse, which shape the global art world". Nevertheless, it's a good selection of films if you want to see something that doesn't fall under the genres of films normally shown at our cineplexes.

Here's the line up for this month and I will share the rest of the line up at the beginning of the following two months.


8th, 9th, 10th June 2016 at 9.00pm

The Digger
Directed by: Ali Cherri
2015 | 24 min | Arabic, Pashto | UAE, Lebanon, France | PG 

For 20 years, Sultan Zeib Khan has kept watch over a ruined Neolithic necropolis in the Sharjah desert in the United Arab Emirates. Although majestic, the wide-angle shots have no monumentalising intent: the beauty and extent of the site speak for themselves. What is playing out here is the possibility for one man to become part of a landscape that overwhelms him yet seems to need his help.

Seen under the silhouette of a rock about to devour him or as a dwarfed figure spade in hand walking from the back of the frame, Sultan curiously busies himself from day to day to prevent the ruins… from falling into ruin.

Factory Girl
Directed by: Mohamed Khan
2013 | 90 min | Arabic | Egypt | PG | Drama 

Hayam is a factory worker who is living in a low middle class area, along with other factory girls. She thought that her feelings for the new supervisor in the factory can grow bigger in spite of the class differences between them, and although he shared some feelings with her but the cruel reality calls when a pregnancy test is found in the factory and because she did not hide her feelings, everybody accused her of being a sinner even her close friends and family. The factory girl does not want to defend herself and that made her pay a big price dealing with a society that does not accept proud women.


15th, 16th, 17th June 2016 at 9.00pm

The Overnighters
Directed by: Jesse Moss (2014)
2014 | 102 min | English | USA | PG | Documentary 

Award-winning documentary The Overnighters is an intimate portrait of job-seekers desperately chasing the broken American Dream to the tiny oil boom town of Williston, North Dakota. With the town lacking the infrastructure to house the overflow of migrants, a local pastor starts the controversial “overnighters” program, allowing down-and-out workers a place to sleep at the church.

His well-meaning project immediately runs into resistance with his community, forcing the clergyman to make a decision which leads to profound consequences that he never imagined.


22nd, 23rd, 24th June 2016 at 9.00pm

Castle in the Sky
Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
1896 | 125 min | Japanese | Japan | PG | Animation, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

A young boy stumbles into a mysterious girl who floats down from the sky. The girl, Sheeta, was chased by pirates, army and secret agents. In saving her life, they begin a high flying adventure that goes through all sorts of flying machines, eventually searching for Sheeta’s identity in a floating castle of a lost civilization.


29th, 30th June and 1st July 2016 at 9.00pm 

Directed by: Fritz Lang
1927 | 153’ | German | Germany | PG | Sci-Fi, Drama

One of the biggest film events of the century, a “holy grail” among film finds. Metropolis is ruled by the powerful industrialist Joh Fredersen. He looks out from his office in the Tower of Babel at a modern, highly technicized world.

Together with the children of the workers, a young woman named Maria reaches the Eternal Gardens where the sons of the city’s elite amuse themselves and where she meets Freder, Joh Fredersen’s son. When the young man later goes on a search for the girl, he witnesses an explosion in a machine hall, where numerous workers lose their lives. He then realizes that the luxury of the upper class is based on the exploitation of the proletariat.

In the Catacombs under the Workers’ City Freder finally finds Maria, who gives the workers hope with her prophecies for a better future. His father also knows about Maria’s influence on the proletariat and fears for his power. In the house of the inventor Rotwang, Joh Fredersen learns about his experiments to create a cyborg based on the likeness of Hel, their mutual love and Freder’s mother. Fredersen orders Rotwang to give Maria’s face to the robot in order to send it to the underground city to deceive and stir up its inhabitants.


- 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.


New York City...You'll never have a bored day


For the past two weeks, I've been spending time between Providence, Rhode Island and New York. I am now back in New York for another week or so. 

Will share my sights and sounds soon.

For now, I'd like to share one of my favourite New York songs with you, New York City Boy by Pet Shop Boys.


 "New York City boy / You'll never have a bored day"



Tea with Culture on 6 Pillars


Last month, my Tea with Culture podcast partner Wael Hattar and I were invited to produce four weekly guest spots for 6 Pillars on Resonance FM, an arts radio project broadcasting out of London.

The aim was to give a somewhat holistic overview of the art scene in the UAE. For the four episodes we recorded, Wael and I invited guests to discuss the development of local artists, the role of institutions when it comes to programming and education, the role of curation at commercial galleries and lastly, art journalism and critique in the UAE.

We really enjoyed putting these four episodes together, and both Wael and I would like to thank Fari Bradley from 6 Pillars for asking us to do this. 

Below are all four episodes, hope you can make time to listen to some or all of them (and if you haven't already, please listen to the Tea with Culture podcast here).


Episode 1: Foundations and private organisations developing local artists featuring Dr Ali MacGilp, curator at Maraya Arts Center in Sharjah, UAE


Episode 2: How institutions housing galleries navigate public, private and education programming featuring Director and Curator Maya Allison and Assistant Curator Bana Kattan of New York University Abu Dhabi Art Gallery

Episode 3: The the role of curated shows at commercial galleries in Dubai and how audiences outside the market forces respond, featuring Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, Lawrie Shabibi, Ayyam Gallery and Grey Noise

Episode 4: Art communication and critique, is there any arts journalism in the UAE, featuring Kevin Jones, an independent arts critic and writer based in Dubai



Flying Ipis - live at The Music Room on 20th May 


Flying Ips, an all-girl, garage punk rock band from Manila, Philippines will perform live at The Music Room this weekend, on Friday, 20th May 2016.

More about them via Gulf News

The band’s notoriously cheeky name (“ipis” means cockroach in English) has given them and their music to rising cult status.

Originally formed in the corridors of an all-girl, Catholic high school, the band paid their dues in their hometown, releasing an EP in 2009 and their first full-length album, Give Ipis a Chance in 2013. They are busy gearing up for their second album, The Roach Motel, to be released later this year.


They recently performed at SXSW in Austin, so it's exciting to find out Dubai will get to see them live too.

Tickets for the event is AED 100, doors open at 8.00pm. The opening acts include the following Dubai based bands, so overall, should be a packed night of punk rock and roll.



Watch and listen to a couple of tracks by Flying Ipis tracks below, you can hear more on their Soundcloud account.





Event details
Date: Friday, 20th May 2016. Doors open 8.00pm
Venue: The Music Room, Majestic Hotel, Mankool Road, Bur Dubai (location map)
Ticket: AED 100
Event page on Facebook



A short trip to London


The Culturist Recommends - Exhibitions in May 2016

Kadhim Haidar - Fatigued Ten Horses Converse with Nothing (The Martyr’s Epic), Oil on canvas 91 x 127 cm, 1965

Here are some new exhibitions to visit in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah this monhth. The ones in Dubai are all in Alserkal Avenue, so you can make an evening out of it whilst the evening weather is still bearable.

Click on the title of each exhibition if you'd like to read more.



The Short Century
Museum: Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah
Dates: 23rd April - 24th December 2016

Seif Wanly - Oil on panel, 58.5 x 71 cm, 1953

Historical periods are not defined by calendar dates, but by significant events that mark the end of one era and the beginning of the next. The 20th Century is “The Short Century,” a term popularised by the historian Eric Hobsbawm for an era that saw many of the most dramatic and extreme shifts in human history.

This era was witness to the most violent wars, the largest human migrations, the rapid expansion of cities (now the largest centres of human life), the dominance of mechanised industry, and the rapid rise, conflict, and collapse of expansive ideologies that underpinned them.

The Short Century begins in the European context with the First World War in 1914, and ends in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union. In the Middle East, the Century bears parallel borders: the Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916) or the fall of the Ottoman Empire (1920) marks its beginning, and the Gulf War (1990-1991) marks its conclusion. Each end demarcates stark shifts in politics, society, and cultural production.

This exhibition explores a number of artistic narratives in the Arab world, from representations of landscape and portraiture, responses to social and political developments, and the rise of nationalisms. As counterpoint alongside these expressions are the developments of abstraction – tajreed – and hurufiyya (an indigenous lettrism).



Departure by Xavier Mascaro
Gallery: Warehouse 421, Abu Dhabi
Dates: 4th May - 4th September 2016

This exhibition invites visitors to experience passage, adjustability and mobility through the woks of Spanish artist Xavier Mascaro (b. 1965, Paris). Visitors can observe possibilities and meanings through the 18-meter iron ship shown at the entrance of Warehouse421, which is suitably located in Mina Zayed, inciting parallel dialogues between the artworks and the surrounding environment.

Inside the exhibition, the 26 unique boats and documentation, along with the poems of reminiscence, survey thoughts, processes and experimentations that investigate notions of departure.

Mascaro employes a thematic that can be universal and personal. He transports visitors from ancient mythology and rampant totalities, to an icon that speaks to the historical specifics of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) community with its versatility. These relations manifest in traditional poems and songs that were instruments to convey what traveling really meant for the community, from longing to reuniting, and the essential emotions that bonded people together, and with the sea.




Magnetic Bodies: Imaging the Urban by Huda Lutfi
Gallery: The Third Line, Dubai
Dates: 25th April - 4th June 2016

Huda Lutfi, Gazing, 2015, photographs, acrylic and oil paint on wood panel, 51 x 76 x 3 cm
Huda Lutfi, Cactus Crutches, 2015, printed canvas on wood, 3 pieces, 102 x 20 x 5 cm each, 20 resin foot sculptures, dimensions variable 

The exhibition, which includes photo-collage, sculpture, installation and video works, is part of an on-going exploration which cross-examines the urban sprawl of Cairo through the lens of Huda Lutfi as an artist and an historian. 

The layered visuals, marked with elements such as plastic mannequins juxtaposed against blue skies and archaeological cross-sections of the megalopolis, create surreal landscapes—suspending the idiosyncrasies and impossibilities of urbanity in unchartered space and time.

The use of the doll iconography began early in Huda's career with her Found in Cairo (2006) and Arayess series (2006), which explored the effects of globalization on the production of local cultural objects and traditions. Since then, she has employed the figure of the doll repeatedly to explore the objectification and imposed modes of identity construction of the body. In the newer works, Huda explores the rich mannequin culture of Cairo and ties it to the personal and public politics that colonize a constantly evolving cityscape.

Soil Oil by Sachin Bonde
Gallery: 1x1 Gallery, Dubai
Dates: 16 May - 15th June 2016

Sachin Bonde - The World 2016 Etching, serigraphy, gold leafing and enamel paint on tin sheet, and kerosene lamp burner and kerosene beakers 224 x 305 cm  

Sachin Bonde’s works over the last four years have been about the dynamics, maps and networks of movement of petrol and kerosene, and their relationship to realpolitik. In effect, he ends up mapping the world’s networks of pipelines that run underfoot, and that have been the cause of so many wars and invasions, since World War II, and especially foregrounded since 1991 to the present.

The war for fuel, is also driven by fuel needed to prop up war. Without fuel, no tankers can be mobilised or fighter planes fly. Innovations in chemical petroleum, its technology and its supply, changed the dynamic of geographic interests. To many, petroleum—the pumped black liquid from under the surface of the earth, is viewed as a resource curse, spiralling countries into war, corruption, and environmental devastation.


Along These Lines by Nada Sehnaoui
Gallery: IVDE
Dates: 16th May - 16th June 2016

Nada Sehnaoui - How Many, How Many More, 2016 Acrylics, pastels, crayons, maps, papers and newspapers on canvas 200 x 200 cm

Lebanese artist Nada Sehnaoui repeats that it all started when she stumbled across a mention of the Lebanese War Statistics published in several international newspapers in 1991 - list of numbers of people wounded, disappeared and dead during the 15-year-long Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990).

Since then, she employs painterly gestures as she repeats mundane objects and geometrical elements or materials in her installation works. Sehnaoui's labour-intensive artistic practice hinges predominantly on repetition, underlining the importance of time and process inherent to the act of remembering or forgetting. In doing so, she recalls and reiterates personal and collective acts of resilience that is symbolic of war, political instability and crisis.

Border-Lines by Jaber Al Azmeh
Gallery: Green Art Gallery, Dubai
Dates: 16th May - 2nd July 2016

Madness 4, 2015, Printed on cotton rag fine art archival paper, 26 x 40 cm, Ed of 5 + 2AP. Copyright of Jaber Al Azmeh

Nationalism 1, 2015, Printed on cotton rag fine art archival paper, 100 x 150 cm, Ed of 5 + 2AP. Copyright of Jaber Al Azmeh
Survival 1, 2015, Printed on cotton rag fine art archival paper, 40 x 60 cm, Ed of 5 + 2AP. Copyright of Jaber Al Azmeh

Border-lines takes on an aerial perspective, exploring both the roots of global crisis and its implications. There is a line that cuts through this latest body of work. Quickly, it becomes apparent that the line is a compositional aspect and curatorial instrument of the exhibition.

Upon closer inspection, however, that equatorial line burns at the very partition between dream and reality, conscious and unconscious. In spite of the appearance of calmness and minimalism, there is a screaming silence to these images.



Surface as Interface as Surface
Gallery, Carbon 12, Dubai
Dates: 16th May - 15th July

Left: Gregor Hildebrandt - Dirty, video tape on canvas, 30 x 30.5 x 2.5 cm (2014) Right: Gregor Hildebrandt - Dancing, video tape on canvas, 30 x 30.5 x 2.5 cm (2014)

The contemporary tendency toward abstraction fuels our need for the concrete: as our world becomes increasingly complex each day, our desire for a sensual experience grows. When we think of interfaces, we think of a way to access digital ephemera through screens and simulacra. But isn’t every surface an interface and every interface a surface? With Surface as Interface as Surface, Carbon 12 puts the materiality back on the map and chops the meta from the physics. New works from the gallery’s artists André Butzer, Bernhard Buhmann and Ralf Ziervogel are shown together for the first time in Dubai along with works by Gregor Hildebrandt, Peles Empire, Jessica Mein, Thomas Arnolds and Mohammed Kazem.

The range of material in the presented works breaks the frame of our classical understanding of two-dimensional practices: Hildebrandt glues video-tapes directly upon the surface in his works while Kazem scratches soundwaves directly on to paper. Both artists create synaesthetic investigations into the analogue, capturing echoes from the past and preserving their memories for a possible future.

Mein uses the physical aspects of surface and structure to make her abstract images. Meanwhile, Empire uses literary sources to map out urban territory—the similarity in their works lies in the quality of visualizing complex connections.

The mundanity of putting paint on canvas becomes a literal material matter in the works of Buhmann, Ziervogel, Butzer and Arnolds. The moment where the material begins to speak a voice on its own oscillates between the point of total abstraction and material reality.

Seen through this lens, every picture is an image and every image is intentional. Every material has a function and every function incorporates ideology: the surface becomes the interface; the interface becomes the surface. Surface as Interface as Surface marks a turn in the contemporary approach toward material.



New Works by Fahd Burki
Gallery: Grey Noise Gallery, Dubai
Dates: 16th May - 30th July 2016

Left: Dawn, 2015, acrylics and pencil on paper, 76 x 56 cm Right: Noon, 2015, acrylics and pencil on paper, 76 x 56 cm

Fahd Burki’s practice is concerned with a vocabulary of symbols, forms and compositions that have, over the years, moved between non-representational and figurative. His work has evolved through subtle variations and reductions; moving towards greater abstraction, the new series of works mark a distinct shift in his practice.

Without predefined ideas, Burki's creative process is intuitively marked with repetition, symmetry and intervals. The compositions are playfully crafted with lines, geometric forms, grids and blank spaces.

The new work brings together the Lahore-based artist’s explorations that evoke a sense of transience and permeability - the works tend to dwell between the personal and the mystical.



Observing the Ritual
Gallery: Gulf Photo Plus
Dates: 16th May - 27th August 2016

This exhibition unites three distinct series by three distinct photographers - Hidden Islam by Nicoló Degiorgis, Prayer Rooms by Ammar Al Attar and Iftar by Natalie Naccache, to explore the spaces in which the rituals fundamental to Muslim culture occur.

From communal prayer held in a secret mosque to the breaking of the fast in a family home during Ramadan, the exhibition’s contributing photographers shed light on the most intimate moments of life for practicing Muslims.   




Links to the previous months:
The Culturist Recommends - Exhibitions in January 2016
The Culturist Recommends - Exhibitions in February 2016
The Culturist Recommends - Exhibitions in March 2016
The Culturist Recommends - Exhibitions in April 2016


Slidefest #18 - 11th May 2016

Gulf Photo Plus' Slidefest is back for it's 18th edition
, at a new venue closer to it's headquarters, E46 in Alserkal Avenue. For this edition, which will take place on Wednesday, 11th May, the presenters will show work following the theme of "Community".

Dubai boasts a diversity and richness of communities that have been shaping its cultural and urban landscape in the past half century, giving their particular flavor to a multicultural environment we currently live in.

There will be some amazing presentations delving into the specific communities of Dubai, like the work by Xyza Bacani, documenting the local Philippine community, or by Ekta Saran, looking at the communities of old Bur Dubai.

There will be projects about communities from the other parts of the globe as well as some unexpected ways to look at the life of a community thought urban design and architecture.


Here's the line up of presenters that will show their work at Slidefest #18:


Here's some of the work you will see at Slidefest #18:

Hussain Al Moosawi

Xyza Bacani

Reem Falaknaz

Katarina Premfors


Ekta Saran



Event details
Date: Wednesday, 11th May 2016 at 7.00pm
Venue: E46, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai (location map)
Free entry.


Black Honey live at Bad House Party on 12th May 2016

Black Honey - photo by Charlotte Patmore

Bad House Party will host their third live gig this month, featuring with Black Honey, on Thursday, 12th May at Casa Latina.

After bringing us Hermigervill and Bernsden from Iceland and Astronautalis from Minneapolis last year, Black Honey from Brighton, UK will be performing in Dubai for the first time.

Described by The Guardian as "one of the indie bands to watch for 2016", their music is energetic and moody.


DIY Magazine described "All My Pride" from their recently released Headspin EP as "starry-eyed, cinematic pop". They go on to say,

Each song could be a separate scene in the movie of their dreams, where Johnny Depp and Uma Thurman go on an American road trip slash killing spree.

There’s drama and there’s fire lining the seams of every song. ‘Headspin’ finds hope in a dead-end motel. ‘On Your Time’, an arm-raising anthem in the making, flips Hollywood heartbreak on its head. And closer ‘Mocking Swing’ finds Izzy B. Phillips mastering a woozy, strung out ballad.

You can stream all the tracks from Headspin here or listen to some of their songs below.



Event details
Date: Thursday, 12th May 2016, doors open at 9pm, band on stage at 11pm
Venue: Casa Latina, Ibis Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Barsha Dubai
Ticket: 100 AED on the door
Event page on Facebook


[image via DIY Magazine]



Cinema at the Space - May 2016

Cinema at The Space continues to screen this month in the same venue, at The Space in Abu Dhabi (twofour54 Park Rotana Building) - contrary to what I wrote last month saying it will move to a new location. The screenings are free to attend, but you must RSVP in advance.

There's a good line up of films this month, a lot of must sees and personal favourites. Click on each image below for more details.



Monday, 2nd May


Wednesday, 4th May


Saturday, 7th May


Monday, 9th May


Wednesday, 11th May


Saturday, 14th May


Monday, 16th May


Wednesday, 18th May


Saturday, 21st May


Monday, 23rd May


Wednesday, 25th May


Saturday, 28th May


Monday, 30th May