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Exhibition - In the Shadow of the Pyramids by Laura El-Tantawy at Gulf Photo Plus


In the Shadow of the Pyramids by Laura El-Tantawy is the latest exhibition at Gulf Photo Plus, on till Saturday, 4th April 2015.  

Laura El-Tantawy began this series in 2005 when she was compelled to explore the essence of Egyptian identity in the hope of coming to terms with her own. Guided by childhood memories, her photographs are not meant to be objective observations of a nation, but rather personal reflections of Egypt through her own eyes.

In the Shadow of the Pyramids is a first person perspective exploring memory and identity. With images spanning 2005 to 2014, what began as a look in the mirror to understand the essence of Egyptian identity expanded into an exploration of the trials and tribulations of a turbulent nation. The result is dark, sentimental and passionate.


Here's a small selection of images from the exhibition.


The series was published in a book that was released earlier this year. The book can be purchased at Gulf Photo Plus or ordered online.

Juxtaposing the innocence of the past with the obscurity of the present, the book is an experience, edited to look like a one night’s encounter. A peaceful and tranquil day suddenly turns violent and chaotic, it’s claustrophobic, until a new dawn rises and there is hope again. 


Images via Gulf Photo Plus and Laura El-Tantawy. © Laura El-Tantawy


Exhibition details
Dates: 4th March - 4th April 2015
Venue: Gulf Photo Plus, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, Dubai (location map)  



Cinema at The Space - March 2015

Still from The Gospel According to St. Matthew


The theme this month for Cinema at The Space is "faith" and it's a good selection of films. Thrilled to see a film by Pier Paolo Pasolini is included and I hope I will have time to go to Abu Dhabi for that screening.  

The film screenings take place at The Space in Abu Dhabi (twofour54 Park Rotana Building), and are free, but you must RSVP in advance.  


Monday, 2nd March at 7.30pm
Wings of Desire, directed by Wim Wenders (1987) 

Wednesday, 4th March 2015 at 7.30pm 
Agora, directed by Alejandro Amenabar (2009) 

Monday, 9th March 2015 at 7.30pm 
The Patience Stone, directed by Atiq Rahimi (2013) 


Wednesday, 11th March 2015 at 7.30pm 
Breaking the Waves, directed by Lars von Trier (1996) 


Monday, 16th March 2015 at 7.30pm 
Au Hasard Balthazar, directed by Robert Bresson (2003) 

Tuesday, 17th March 2015 at 7.30pm 
Dead Man Walking, directed by Tim Robbins (1995) 

Monday, 23rd March 2015 at 7.30pm
The Last Temptation of Christ, directed by Martin Scorsese (1988) 

Wednesday, 25th March 2015 at 7.30pm 
Kreuzweg (Stations of the Cross), directed by Dietrich Brüggemann (2014)

Monday, 30th March 2015 at 7.30pm 
Malcolm X, directed by Spike Lee (1992)

Wednesday, 1st April 2015 at 7.30pm 
Il vangelo secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to Matthew), directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1964)




Save these dates - Dubai Art Season 2015

March is here and if you live in Dubai, it means art month or as many refer to it as March Madness. But since it's also a Sharjah Biennial year, I'd like to call this month "Art Month on Steriods".
Art Week is a new site which lists all the art events in Dubai this month, including exhibitions in Sharjah and also Abu Dhabi. Not sure why it's called Art Week. It really should be called Art Month.

Expect slightly more detailed updates/preview for some of the events happening this month. But for now, save these dates. If there's any time to experience the art scene in Dubai, this is the month.  

Here are my highlights, but make sure you visit to see the complete line up of exhibitions and events. 


5th March - 5th June 2015 - Sharjah Biennial 12: The past, the present, the possible 

14th - 24th March 2015 - SIKKA

16th March 2015 - Galleries Night at Alserkal Avenue

16th March 2015 - Art Night at Gate Village, DIFC

16th - 20th March 2015 - Design Days Dubai 

18th - 21st March 2015 - Art Dubai

18th - 20th March 2015 - Global Art Forum at Art Dubai 

21st March - 20th April 2015 - A View From Inside: Contemporary Arab Photography, Video & Mixed Media Art



Film and TV Viewing Log - February 2015

Here's the list of films and TV shows I watched this month. My first "Film and TV Viewing Log" post I shared last month was quite popular. Some friends suggested I should elaborate more instead of just sharing a list, i.e. review my favourites or add a few lines about each film.

Since I originally wanted this to be a quick and easy post to keep track of what I watched, I've added a star rating (up to five) for each film and TV show. This should highlight my favourites. 


Love Hotel (2014, Hikaru Toda and Philip Cox)  ★★★★★

Belleville Baby (Sweden, 2013, Mia Engberg)  ★★★

Gogol Bordello Non-Stop (2008, Margarita Jimeno)  ★

The Duke of Burgundy (2014, Peter Strickland)  ★★★★★
The Dog (2013, Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren) ★★★★
The Internet's Own Boy (2014,  Brian Knappenberger) ★★★★
Point and Shoot (2014, Marshall Curry) ★★★

Night Will Fall (2014, Andre Singer) ★★★★

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011, Sean Durkin) ★★★

Railroad of Hope (China, 2001, Ning Ying) ★★★★

Kingsman (2015, Matthew Vaughn) ★★★

L'Amour l'après-midi / Love in the Afternoon (France, 1972, Eric Rohmer) ★★★★★

Le Rayon Vert / 
The Green Ray (France, 1986, Eric Rohmer) ★★★★★

Felicia's Journey (1999, Atom Egoyan) ★★★

Valley Girl (1983,  Martha Coolidge) ★★★★
Elementarteilchen / Elementary Particles  (Germany, 2006, Oskar Roehler)  ★★
Selma (2014, Ava DuVernay)  ★★★★★

Efter brylluppet / 
After the Wedding (Denmark, 2007, Susanne Bier)  ★★

Better Call Saul, Season 1 Ep 1-4 (2015)  ★★★ 

Indian Summers, Season 1 Ep 1-2 (2015) ★★★ 

Nathan Barley, Episodes 1-4 (2005) ★★★ 

Sex and the Swastika (2015) ★★★  

Fortitude, Season 1 Episode 1 (2015) ★★★★

RIP Leonard Nimoy

Please read this beautiful post by Kelly Sedinger, about Leonard Nimoy

"I believe that whatever difficulties and challenges we eventually face, we will do it from a brightly-lit viewpoint where it's always clear how far we've already come. I believe that when we take to the stars, our ships will be beautiful and that they will explore with grace, and that we will confront our futures with logic and science as well as warmth and a twinkle in the eye that's always there.

Why do I believe those things? In large part, because of a teevee show and some movies that Leonard Nimoy starred in." 

RIP Leonard Nimoy (1913-2015)


Who wore it better? The Culturist vs The Culturist

A few days ago, a couple of friends shared this image with me. It's an article titled The Culturist in Forbes magazine about Abdelmonem bin Eisa Alserkal (founder and developer of Alserkal Avenue).  

Looks like Forbes isn't aware of this blog, short on titles or maybe I should just treat this as a case of imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

If you know anyone at Forbes, please feel free to put them in touch with yours truly, the founder and developer of this blog, The Culturist. 


Oscars 2015: Arabs Crash Hollywood - Film Posters by Michel Achkar for Cinemoz

Grand Budapest Hotel - The Biggest Shelter in Budapest


Cinemoz is an online video on demand platform that offers film from the Arab world.

Last year, Cinemoz commissioned Michel Achkar to create a series of posters in the style of classic Egyptian films, to support and celebrate the three Arab films that were nominated for an Oscar - Omar, The Square and Karama Has No Walls. You can see the posters here.

This year, Cinemoz carried on the tradition despite the lack of Arab films in the list of nominations for an Academy Awards and Michel Achkar created new posters for nine of the films nominated for an Academy Award, again following the stye of classic Egyptian film posters. (Mauritania is the only Arab country that is represented in this year's list with Abderrahmane Sissako's Timbuktu in the Best Foreign Film category - but sadly didn't get the Egyptian film poster treatment.)

The posters look good, I'd love to own a few of them. Besides the title of the films that are translated into Arabic, the posters also include the names of the director, producer(s) and actors and most of them have a funny tag line (I've included the ones that are easily translatable into English).

Here are the rest of the posters. Hope you will find one or two of your favourite films. 

Birdman - Ignorance is Bliss

Inherent Vice 



Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - The Last Battle for Peace

Guardians of the Galaxy - Hello!

How to Train Your Dragon 2 - Two Birds, One Stone 


The Oscars ceremony takes place tonight in the US (Monday, 23rd February at 5am Dubai time).  


All posters  © Cinemoz 2015 - Original artwork by Michel Achkar.  


[via Cinemoz on Facebook[


Film Screening: Wild Tales

The Scene Club
 will screen Damián Szifrón's Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes) on 23rd and 24th February. It's one of my favourite films from Dubai International Film Festival 2014 and in my top five films of 2014. The film is also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards (we will know if it wins or not on 23rd February).

Wild Tales is an anthology featuring characters that have been pushed to their limits. People getting screwed over (by bureaucracy, loved ones and life) and saying a big F.U. to all of it. It's an angry film told with very dark humour. 

If you're looking for films to watch that week, then please make it this. Tickets are complimentary, but you must register in advance and collect your ticket at the venue. 



Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes) is a collection of crazy, absurd and hilarious stories of people who are stressed out or depressed by the drive for success, competition and the inequality of the world we live in. With its underlying theme of deep emotions, this Argentinean comedy-drama boasts an eclectic ensemble cast.



Event details
Date: Monday, 23rd and Tuesday, 24th February 
Time: 7.00-7.45pm - Ticket Collection and Networking | 8.00pm – Film screening 
Venue: Knowledge Village Auditorium, Dubai (location map)
Film duration: 122 minutes (Spanish with English subtitles)
Register for your ticket online.    



Hermigervill and Berndsen live at Bad House Party on 5th March 2015


On Thursday, 5th March 2015, Dubai will get a taste of electro/synth/pop music from Iceland, a double bill no less, featuring Hermigervill and Brendsen, thanks to Bad House Party. If you are familiar with this blog or know my interests, you won’t be surprised to know I almost fainted when I heard the news. Anything Icelandic makes me happy, especially the music.

Bad House Party started in September 2013, a monthly night of indie/punk/electro music put together by a group mostly non-professional DJs and friends who invite their other friends to guest DJ. It’s a night that offers an alternative to the commercial music and DJ nights in the city. 

In the past we've had nights like this come and go (Twisted Melons, Freshly Laced and Loaded to name a few), all ending a few years after starting for various reasons (founders of these events leaving the countries or moving on to do other things).   

Over the past year Bad House Party's following has been increasing, mostly by people who are there for the music. I'm not a regular myself, mainly because I’m not a fan of the venue (Casa Latina at Ibis), the music can be bit of a hit or miss depending on who is DJing and the crowd is slightly on the immature side - or maybe I'm now just too old for nights like this. 

Having said all that, I am EXTREMELY EXCITED about the gig on 5th March which will be Bad House Party's 17th edition and the first live performance night. I like this new direction, and if this night will be a success, we can expect more exciting and edgy bands/DJs (which I hope will also include acts closer to home, including the UAE). 

Hermigervill and Brendsen have collaborated together, but also have their own music projects. A little bit about each one: 


© Hind Mezaina - Hermigervill (Reykjavik, November 2013)

I first watched Hermigervill during an online live stream of a performance that was part of Iceland Airwaves 2012 Off-Venue programme and was smitten. I then saw him live when I first visited Iceland in February 2013 for Sonar Reykjavik and several times in November 2013 at Iceland Airwaves and fell in love with him even more.  

Hermigervill is fun, energetic, dorky and will get you dancing with his theremin, synths and his wild red hair. 

The following is a small selection of his music to give you a taste; the first video will give you an idea of his live performance. Really looking forward to seeing how the Dubai crowd will react to him and his music. 




I have not seen Brendsen live, but I do like his music. A lot.

A man whose love of the 80s is at his very core, David Berndsen is a bearded iconic pop figure in Iceland, famous for his sound and various videos that recreate an era and a distinct moment in time when music (and the costumes and aesthetics) from groups such as Soft Cell, OMD, Yazoo, Visage, the Human League and Ultravox triumphed worldwide.  via

My kind of music. Here's what to expect. 





Music heads of Dubai, DON'T MISS THIS. It will be synthastic.


Event details
Date: Thursday, March 5th, 2015
Location: Casa Latina, Ibis Hotel in Barsha, Dubai (location map). 
Ticket: AED 100
Doors: 9:00 pm to 2:45 am (Resident Bad House Party DJs will be on till around midnight before Hermigervill and Brendsen).



Slidefest #15 - 18th February 2014

Gaar Adams

The 15th edition of Slidefest* organised by Gulf Photo Plus is back this month after a long summer break. The latest edition will take place on Wednesday, 18th February at 7pm in the Knowledge Village Auditorium

Here's the line up of presenters: 


Gaar Adams

Gaar Adams has spent over five years in the Arab world – including extensive time in Yemen – and is co-author of a forthcoming Yemen travel guide. 

Over the past three years, Adams has documented the dying sport of Mallakhamb in Maharasthra, India; the struggling national gymnastics program in Sana’a, Yemen; the thriving Pehlwani wrestling competitions of the South Asian diaspora in Dubai, UAE; and the enduring ritual-performances of Kathakali, Kalaripayattu, and Mohiniyattam, in Kerala, India. The intentions of this ongoing project have been primarily to investigate the nuance between sport and theatrics.


Franck Boutonnet

On Thursday, 5th of December 2013, Jacob Zuma, the South African president, announced Mandela has died, and that he would be given a state funeral. For 10 days, a whole nation paid its last respects to the Father of the Nation.

Franck Boutonnet documented this last journey, from Johannesburg, Pretoria and to Kunu, in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, the ancestral home of Nelson Mandela.


Sarah Dea 

Sarah Dea is a Canadian born, Chinese photographer working from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She is currently a staff photojournalist at an English language newspaper based out of Abu Dhabi.

"Mohammed" is a portrait series of different men from a variety of different backgrounds, bearing the same name.  It is one of the most common given names in the world, yet each Mohammed is unique and has a story to tell.


Saadia Mahmud and Bernard Menettrier de Jolli

Saadia Mahmud is a UAE based travel, street and portrait photographer. After 23 years of working in financial markets, she had a meltdown, quit her day job and now only makes pictures. 

It's a surprise to all who know Bernard Menettrier de Jolli that he is a photographer. Once you get to know him, you realize he’s shortsighted, astigmatic and color-blind. He’s been a corporate guy for the past 30 years and spends most of his weekends prowling the streets. Bernard enjoys portraits and street photography. 

Bernard and Saadia will be presenting a photographic project called Transformation which focuses on the demolition of Dubai's Defence Colony, a housing compound  established in early 1970s next to a large military camp in Dubai, primarily for the UAE’s military families.  


Anna Maria Nielsen 

Anna Marie Nielsen is a Danish photographer based in Dubai. She graduated from a degree in photojournalism in 2012 in the UK and has since divided her time between working on personal projects and commissions for news papers.  Her work focuses on social documentary and often focuses on female protagonists.  

Anna will be presenting a project titled Young British Converts, which follows the lives of three young British women who are all living a new life as Muslim converts in the UK.  Based in the South West of the UK the women are facing the reaction of their conversions from their relatives, friends, colleges and fellow students who all have had a hard time accepting the decision they have made. 


Sreeranj Sreedhar

Sreeranj Sreedhar is a travel, documentary and culture photographer from the state of Kerala in India currently working and residing in Dubai. His passion lies in creating images that communicate a strong sense of place and cultural awareness of the people and the country.

Sreeranj will be presenting a project about the Vedic School of Kerala, India, one of the oldest institutions in India that continues to teach Vedas (ancient Indian scripts).  Located in the heart of Thrissur, Kerala, the research centre is believed to be one of the four Madhas established by Adi Shankara's disciples and is estimated to have been established over 400 years ago.


Larry Towell

Larry Towell is an award winning Magnum photographer who has spent a considerable amount of time living with different communities in order to document a theme he describes as 'landlessness'. In 1996 Towell completed a project based on 10 years of reportage in El Salvador, followed the next year by a book on the Palestinians. His fascination with landlessness also led him to the Mennonite migrant workers of Mexico, an 11-year project completed in 2000. 

Originating in Europe in the 16th century, the Mennonites are a Protestant religious sect, related to the Amish. Rather than compromise their way of life, they have continually been forced to migrate around the world to maintain their freedom to live as they choose. The greatest numbers are now found in Mexico, and many live or regularly migrate to work in rural Canada.  The project Larry will be sharing remotely at Slidefest will be his series on Mennonites in Canada. 




* Slidefest is a free community event hosted by Gulf Photo Plus where photographers take the stage to share unique, personal photography projects that run the gamut of genres including landscape and portrait photography, travel and fine art photography and much more. The event also aims to bring photographers (amateurs and pros) and people from the photography community together where people can network, connect and share stories.