Tea with Culture

A podcast about the cultural happenings in the United Arab Emirates presented by Hind Mezaina (The Culturist) and Wael Hattar.


Vinyl Launch - Systems for a Score by Fari Bradley and Chris Weaver


On Thursday, 21st May, sound artists Fari Bradley and Chris Weaver will launch an album titled "Systems for a Score" released by The Vinyl Factory in London

The album was recorded during their exhibition by the same name at Tashkeel, which included a built-in recording studio called "A Model Studio". UAE-based musicians, artists and school children were invited to  collaborate with the artists, improvising and interpreting "Sadu" (traditional Emirati weave) as graphic scores.  

© Darwin Guevarra - A Model Studio


The recordings resulted in seven tracks released in this limited edition album. The artwork was created by my brother, Khalid Mezaina, (you can read more about it here)

Here's a sampler of the music on the album. It's eclectic and I personally like it a lot. If you like what you hear, then make sure you go to Tashkeel on Thursday, 21st May to buy the album. The evening will include introductions by the contributors, listening session and live performances. 



Event details
Date: Thursday, 21st May 2015, 7.00-9.00pm
Venue: Tashkeel, Nad Al Sheba, Dubai (location map)
Free entry.
Event page on Facebook 



Bjork's DJ set at Tri Angle Records 5th Anniversary Party


Bjork was the suprise guest and DJ at Tri Angle Records fifth birthday party in New York, it took place on Wall Street, in the basement of the former headquarters of J.P. Morgan.

The music set was uploaded on Bjork's Soundcloud account a few hours ago and since then its been making its round on Twitter. It's quite a diverse list of tracks and I enjoyed listening to it. 

In Bjork's own words: 

i would like to wish tri angle label an incredibly sublime birthday and thank for having been invited to dj at their party . couldnt possibly been more honoured than to play in that company !!!

the mix i played was my present to them : merging together some of my fav beats last year with some of my fav vocalists doing some of their best songs :


Here's the one hour set. You can see the complete track list here and you can see pictures and read about the party here.




[hat tip @disconaivete



Film Screening: What We Do In The Shadows

The Scene Club
 will screen What We Do In The Shadows on 26th and 27th May. It's a mockumentary about vampires (by the same creators of Flight of the Conchords). I saw this film at the Dubai International Film Festival in December and it is funny. 

There will also be a guest of honor on the night, Jonathan Brugh (Deacon) will be present for a Q&A. Tickets are complimentary, but you must register in advance and collect your ticket at the venue. 



Event details
Date: Tuesday, 26th and Wednesday 27th May
Time: 7.00-7.45pm - Ticket Collection and Networking | 8.00pm – Film screening 
Venue: Knowledge Village Auditorium, Dubai (location map)
Register for your ticket online.     



Slidefest #16 - 25th May 2015 

© Martin Beck

The 16th edition of Slidefest* organised by Gulf Photo Plus will take place on Monday, 25th May at 7pm in the Knowledge Village Auditorium.  

 Here's the line up of presenters: 



Martin Beck   

Martin Beck is a Scottish / South African photographer based in Dubai, with a passion for fashion and portrait photography.  

His series "We Can Be Heroes" is a collection of gritty portraits that follow the day to day grind of a group of not-so-super heroes.  The series is a humourous portrayal of characters like Batman and Super Woman going about daily routines, eating, sleeping or working a 9-5. 


Henry Hargreaves

Henry Hargreaves began his career in front of the camera lens working in the fashion industry for a number of years before pursuing his interest in becoming a photographer.  

Based currently out of New York, Henry's work often comes to fruition in the form of a collaborative project, working with fellow creatives to produce a unique perspective.  

In his TEDx Manhattan talk he shares three projects of his that all share a common language, using food to create representational portraits of people, offering a unique insight into the lives of others. One project particular titled "No Seconds" has received international attention, where Henry photographed the last meal requested by a variety of inmates on death row in Texas, USA. 

Natalie Naccache

Natalie Naccache is a Lebanese-British photojournalist based in Beirut and represented by Reportage by Getty Images.  

Having grown up in London to Lebanese parents, Natalie's work aims to challenge the preconceived ideas of the Middle East in modern day society.  

Natalie will be presenting a series titled "Our Limbo" which follows a group of young Syrian women who left Syria to study in Lebanon prior to the outbreak of the civil war, focusing on the psychological effects of losing your homeland, and the difficulty of adapting to a new country.

Celia Peterson

Dubai-based photographer and filmmaker Celia Peterson draws on her experience in visual story-telling to produce work for both editorial and advertising clients.  
Celia will be presenting her work titled  'Roof Knocking' which refers to the practice of warning inhabitants of a building before it is destroyed. This ‘warning’ is the firing of ‘a low yield device’ (a bomb) to the roof of a house whereby the occupants have up to five minutes before the house is completely destroyed.
The practice was used by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) in the August 2014 war, ‘Operation Protective Edge’. The ‘Roof Knocking’ series was born as a testament to the 17,200 homes destroyed in ‘Operation Protective Edge’. 

Katarina Premfors was born in Sweden and raised between Pakistan, Turkey and North America before launching her commercial photography career in the Middle East over twenty years ago.  

The series she will be presenting is a project that she shot in collaboration with Photographers for Hope and Greenpeace.  

Katarina photographed three communities in Indonesia where the clearing of rainforest and peatland for the production of palm oil, pulp and paper has resulted in serious environmental consequences including ranking Indonesia the third largest green house gas producer in the world.  

Donald Weber

Canadian-born photographer currently based in the UAE, Donald Weber originally trained as an architect and worked with urban theorist Rem Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in The Netherlands.

As an award winning photographer represented by VII Photo,  he has since devoted himself to the study of how power deploys an all-encompassing theater for its subjects, what he records is its secret collaboration with both masters and victims.  

He will be presenting his project titled War Sands about historic sacrifice, and the meaning of war in our modern world as examined through photographing the beaches of Normandy coast, the backdrop of D-day in the Invasion of Normandy. 




* 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. 



For the Love of Film - Sins of an Angel


This is my second For the Love of Film: The Film Preservation Blogathon 2015 entry which started on 13th May and ends today (my first entry can be read here). 

The aim of the blogathon is to raise funds for the National Film Preservation Foundation (an independent, nonprofit organization created to rescue endangered films) to support restoring a specific film each year. This year's film is Cupid in Quarantine. You can read more about it here.

If this is of interest to you, please donate as little or as much as you can by clicking on the "Donate Here" button at the end of this post. 

A look at the film
 خطيئة ملاك (Khatee'at Malak) / Sins of an Angel 
(dir. Yehya Al Elmy, Egypt, 1979) 


Earthlings are looked down upon in this sci-fi romance musical. It becomes less "sci" and more a moralistic ficional tale about good and evil as it progresses.   

The film starts with a sequence of scenes of war, destruction, lust and commerce, depicting Earth as a terrible place. Unlike the rest of his chiffon clad angelic clan, Tomar (Hussain Fahmy) thinks people on Earth need help from their destructive behavior and wants to go to Earth, to seek the truth and help fix things. 

Against the approval of his leader, he declares his intention to go and asks his girlfriend Elham (Nelly) to join him. She prays for him to stay, but he insists on going and she insists on not joining him, so he leaves her behind.

Tomar transports himself to Earth and finds himself literally thrown into the deep end where he lands in a swimming pool. He enjoys the sensation of swimming and water which is alien to him.  During his first moments on Earth, Tomar is exposed to bathing beauties, gets kicked out of the pool for swimming naked and even gets hit on by a man.  

But soon Tomar realizes the importance of money which he needs to buy food and clothes. He stumbles upon a magic show at the local fairground. The magician is played by Adel Adham (always the bad guy in films - so viewers already know something's up with his character) and by his side is a the young and beautiful assitant Yasmine (with Nelly taking on this role too). Thomar ends up  showing he's got some magic tricks up his own sleeves and joins as assisting magician to make a living. 


The Magician is interested in using Tomar's magic tricks to his own advantage. Soon, Tomar is exposed to the ugly side of humans - cheating, greed and sexual violence. But he also starts developing feelings for two different women - oddly enough he doesn't seem to know how to cope or act upon them on Earth and doesn't seem to think he is doing his fair share of cheating (on his girlfriend Elham). He learns of unrequited love and starts taking on the bad habits of humans, lying, judging and even drinking more than he should.   

During his time on Earth, Tomar's best friend Tharod appears regularly to check up on him (he is invisible to others) and to guide him on the ways of the earthlings. 

The musical numbers continue with songs about money. Crimes are comitted - money is stolen, attempted kidnapping and rape, and murder -  followed by a trail leading to a a death penalty. In all of this, Tomar is trying to do the right thing, to redeem himself and humans around him.

In the end, Tomar is miraculously saved from hanging and returns to his home and his chiffon heavy wardrobe, and rekindles his relationship with Elham.  



You can read all the participating posts in the host blogs listed below:
Ferdy on Film on 13-14 May 
This Island Rod on 15-16 May 
Wonders in the Dark  on 17 May  




For the Love of Film - In search of classic Arab science fiction films

رحلة إلى القمر / Rihla Ila Al Qamar / Journey to the Moon (Egypt, 1959) 
This post is part of For the Love of Film: The Film Preservation Blogathon 2015 which started on 13th May and will go on till 17th May 2015.

The aim of the blogathon is to raise funds for the National Film Preservation Foundation (an independent, nonprofit organization created to rescue endangered films) to support restoring a specific film each year.

This year's film is Cupid in Quarantine. You can read more about it here. If this is of interest to you, please donate as little or as much as you can by clicking on the "Donate Here" button at the end of this post. 

Here's my first post for the blogathon:

In search of classic Arab science fiction films 
When science fiction was announced as the theme for this year's Film Preservation Blogathon, it made me want to research sci-fi films from the Arab world, especially old films. I've seen lots of old Arabic language films, especially from Egypt, genres including dramas, comedies and musicals, but I don't recall seeing any sci-fi films. 

A quick search online in Arabic and in English lead me to a handful of titles, but I am still trying to find more. For now, I will share some of the titles and film posters I found. I will write about one of the films (or two, if time permits) in my next post. 

من أين لك هذا / Min Ayn Laka Haza / Where did you get this?
(Egypt, 1952)

صوت من الماضي / Sawt Min Al Madi / Voice from the Past
(Egypt, 1956) 

رحلة إلى القمر / Rihla Ila Al Qamar / Journey to the Moon

(Egypt, 1959) 

غوار لاعب الكرة / Ghawar La'ib Al Kura / Ghawar the Football Player
(Syria, 1972) 

خطيئة ملاك / Khatee'at Malak / Sins of an Angel
(Egypt, 1979) 

You can read all the participating posts in the host blogs listed below:
Ferdy on Film on 13-14 May 
This Island Rod on 15-16 May 
Wonders in the Dark  on 17 May  



Live Event: If Tate Modern was Musée de la danse? 

Boris Charmatz, Levée des conflits 2010, as part of BMW Tate Live: If Tate Modern was Musée de la danse? Photo © Hugo Glendenning 2015

A collaboration between Tate Modern in London and the Musée de la danse in Rennes will bring dance into the museum, to look at how the museum can be tranformed by dance and to ask how a "danced" or "choreographic" perspective can affect our understanding of the museum. 

Directed by dancer and choreographer Boris Charmatz, he suggests that "this transformation might, in part, be like wearing glasses with a corrective function that open people’s perception to the found choreography happening everywhere". 

Starting from the question: If Tate Modern was Musée de la danse? This project proposes a transformation of the art museum via the lens of dance.

For two days only, in collaboration with dancer and choreographer Boris Charmatz, around 90 dancers and choreographers will take over the gallery spaces and the iconic Turbine Hall.

See key works by Charmatz and his collaborators, get involved in a debate about what a dance museum could be and join in as contemporary dancers turn the Turbine Hall into a dance floor for everyone.

As Tate Modern becomes Musée de la danse temporarily, the project conjures a vision of how art might be presented and encountered differently in the future museum.

The all day event will take place over this Saturday and will be streamed live online here starting from 12.00hrs GMT on 16th May, so if you're not in London like me, you can still join in and experience this event. More details and complete  schedule and more details can be found here.  

Here's a video with Boris Charmatz talking about transforming Tate Modern into a Museum of Dance this weekend. 




Tune in online on Saturday, 16th May at 12.00hrs GMT and join the conversation online using this hastag: #DancingMuseum 


Podcast - Tea with Culture 

My friend Wael Hattar and I launched a new podcast Tea with Culture where you can hear us talk about cultural happenings in the United Arab Emirates.  Some episodes will be about specific themes, some will include interviews and there will be episodes where we will discuss exhibitions or events.

So far, we have two episodes up (after an introductory episode) where we talk about Dubai's art season in March. I have yet to write my blogposts about that month, but for now, have a listen if you're interested to hear our thoughts.

If you want to hear some frank discussions about the cultural scene in the UAE, then this podcast is the one to listen to.

We're still learning the podcast ropes, so if you have any feedback or suggestions, please let me know. If you like what you hear, please share the love and pass on the links. We're on Soundcloud and on Twitter. I've also included a widget on this blog linking directly to the podcast page. 

[image from the film Tea and Sympathy]

For the Love of Film - The Film Preservation Blogathon 13th-17th May 2015


For the Love of Film: The Film Preservation Blogathon is back this year, aiming to raise $10,000 to restore, score, and stream Cupid in Quarantine, a film from 1918. For the last blogathon, money was raised for The White Shadow


Cupid in Quarantine (1918), a one-reel Strand Comedy that tells the story of a young couple conspiring to stay together by staging a smallpox outbreak. 

Moving Picture Review said: “It is a good story, handled well by Miss Elinor Field… [whose] vivaciousness permeates the entire picture, filling it with life and action and a humor that is contagious.”

Cupid in Quarantine is being repatriated to the United States from the EYE Filmmuseum in the Netherlands by the National Film Preservation Foundation. Once restored and set to music, this film will be available online for anyone and everyone to view and enjoy absolutely free of charge.  

via Ferdy on Film


The theme for this year's blogathon is science fiction, in keeping with the science-based premise of the film Cupid in Quarantine. This year's host blogs include: 
Ferdy on Film will host on 13-14 May 
This Island Rod will host on 15-16 May 
Wonders in the Dark will host on 17 May

If you want to take part, let one of the hosts know by leaving a comment on their blogposts about For the Love of Film - The Film Preservation Blogathon by clicking on one of the following links; Ferdy on Film, The Island Rod, Wonders in the Dark 

Look out for my science fiction themed contributions later this week, so please come back to read them and I hope you can donate to the blogathon as well. This is the 4th edition of the Film Preservation blogathon, I've taken part in the last two, you can read my posts here.

For the Love of Film on Facebook



Orson Welles Centennial 


This week marks the marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great actor, writer, producer and director Orson Welles. 

If you've not watched his films, then please dedicate this month to him and get your hands on as many Orson Welles films as you can. I

Here's a video with film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum discussing Orson Welles and his films.



I just home the film distributors and cinemas in the UAE will have the wisdom to celebrate Orson Welles and screen some of his films.