Subscribe to The Culturist

Cinematography of 2014 by Jacob T. Swinney 


It's that time of the year again where best of lists and videos are being compiled and shared online.

Cinematography of 2014 is a compilation put together by Jacob T. Swinney featuring notable cinematography from films that had a theatrical release in the US. 

The complete list of films featured in this video can be found here. 



RIP Joe Cocker

RIP Joe Cocker, 1944 - 2014.





[image via]



RIP Jane Bown

Long time Observer photographer Jane Bown passed away on 21st December 2014. She joined the Observer in 1949 and worked there for more than 50 years. She has taken some of the most iconic portraits, my favourite is her portrait of Samuel Beckett


Here's an interview with her from 2009, I urge you to watch it, there are some great lines in it:



This is the documentary trailer about her, Looking for Light: Jane Bown. Looking forward to watching it. 


RIP Jane Bown, 1925 - 2014.  



[image via



Al Sourat Photo Festival 2014 - (In) Out 40 Years of French and Emirati Photography in the UAE

Institut Français
in the United Arab Emirates presents Al Sourat Photo Festival 2014 spread across three venues in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and on till 15th January 2015.

Al Sourat Photo Festival features French and Emirati photographers who captured the spirit of the UAE between 1974 and 2014. Their works investigate the thematic “In / Out” - public spaces and private realms of Emirati society, showcasing the complex ever changing cultural environment from the nation’s birth to the present day.

The core aim of Al Sourat Photo Festival 2014 is to create an artistic journey, a dialogue between the works of French and Emirati artists through photography, resulting in the creation of new bridges between the two cultures, enhancing their exchange, long-term relationship and cultural cooperation.


The festival includes  Jack BurlotThierry BouëtOlivier Escarguel and Anne-Marie Filaire from France. The Emirati photographers include an all female line up, Lamya GargashReem SaeedFatima Al Yousef and yours truly. 

Here's a small selection of the photos from the festival. Venue details can be found after the photos. 


Fatima Al Yousef 


Thierry Bouët


Jack Burlot


Anne-Marie Filaire



Lamya Gargash


Hind Mezaina




Exhibition locations and dates:


Alserkal Cultural Foundation in Al Fahidi Heritage District,  15th December - 8th of January 2015 

This exhibition will showcase 34 pictures which all unveil A Portrait of the UAE (Part I).


Abu Dhabi 
Corniche (East Plaza), 16th - 30th December 2014

An outdoor photography exhibition on the Corniche (East Plaza) will showcase 30 pictures realized in the 1970’s by the French photographer Jack Burlot including an unprecedented reportage on Late Sheikh Zayed and on the daily life in the UAE in 1974, from the 16th to the 30th of December 2014.

This exhibition Selected portraits of Late Sheikh Zayed and pictures of Abu Dhabi in the 1970’s presents unique and previously unseen pictures of H.H Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder and first President of the United Arab Emirates.



Abu Dhabi
Avenue at Etihad Towers, 17th December 2014 - 15th January 2015

A Portrait of the UAE (Part II) from the 17th of December until 15th of January will present 32 pictures realized by French and Emirati photographers in Avenue at Etihad Towers.  




Declaration by eL Seed at Tashkeel

eL Seed
 is known for his use of larger than life murals using traditional Arabic calligraphy. For his latest exhibition titled "Declaration" at Tashkeel, his work has taken on a sculptural form and the gallery is covered with giant pink calligraphy. The exhibition is on till Saturday, 27th December 2014.   


Here are photos from the exhibition:


Developed over the course of his residency at Tashkeel and presented in collaboration with the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, el Seed took his inspiration from a poem by Nizar Qabbani. 



The poet describes the beauty of his lover despite her age and eL Seed uses this poem as the basis of his work, publicly declaring his love for the ancient art of calligraphy.



Using large scale sculptures that weave through the walls and floors, spilling beyond the confines of the gallery, each stroke of a letter and word seeks to build an affinity with the spectator and invites them to be part of the conversation – a conversation between the poem, the language, the form and eL Seed.



By introducing these works into a new medium, eL Seed pays homage to his earlier pieces, artistically articulating his process of reinvention.


“These new works are an approach to have the viewer more involved with the piece, and move away from being a spectator.  Jean Cocteau said ‘There is no love. There are only proofs of love’ and bringing my art into 3D was a way to allow it to materialize. The work is still tied to my instinctive visual language, but by releasing the letter forms I've discovered new territories for expression that celebrate and elaborate my deep respect and love for this art,” says eL Seed.



Event details

Date: On till Saturday, 27th December 2014, Saturday - Thursdau, 8:00am - 10:00pm 
Venue: Tashkeel, Nad Al Sheba (location map)
Free entry.


The Beginnings of a Nation by Anita Van der Krol at The Empty Quarter


The Beginnings of a Nation is the latest exhibition at The Empty Quarter featuring photographs by Anita Van der Krol of Dubai in the late 1970s, a few years after the formation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971. "It was a period of transition from nomadic life to the first communities of this newly founded nation," states Van Der Krol.

In 1975, the wife of a Dutch dredging engineer, Anita Van der Krol was in a unique position to shoot intimate pictures of the first nomads to settle in this land. Living as an expat in Jumeirah, she became one of the first inhabitants of Jebel Ali Village. 

Rather naively, Van Der Krol ventured out to the villages, souks and sandy desert, with two small children in tow and managed to win the confidence and respect of the hundreds of people she met while photographing their way of life. “Some of them had never had a photo of themselves before. They were delighted and you can see that in the photographs,” states Van der Krol.

The Bedouin images from the desert must have been among the last taken, before this entire population gave up their nomadic existence and settled down to form towns and villages.

Van der Krol’s insightful photographs have rapidly become part of the heritage of this young country and a source of national pride.  


The exhibition is on till Wednesday, 31st December 2014. Here are some photos from the exhibition. 



Event details
Date: On till Wednesday, 31st December 2014. Sunday - Thursday 10.00 am - 8.00 pm. 
Venue: The Empty Quarter, Gate Village, Bldg 02, DIFC, Dubai
Free entry.  



Foam Talent 2014 at East Wing, Dubai

East Wing in Dubai is hosting Foam Talent 2014
, in partnership with Foam, the leading international photographic organization based in Amsterdam. The exhibition is on till Saturday, 10th January 2015.  

The exhibition showcases a collection of international cutting edge photographic talent to the Gulf Region, selected by Foam from their annual "Talent Call".   

Foam’s annual "Talent Call" is one of the international photographic industry’s most prestigious instruments for scouting and presenting young photographers. The "Talent Call" with its accompanying presentation in Foam Magazine and touring exhibition provides a unique career building platform, helping to launch aspiring talents to an important next step in their photographic career. 

The Foam Talent label gives these photographers international acclaim and recognition.  This year, out of the 1,473 submissions from 71 different countries that were submitted, 21 artists were selected.


The Foam talents for 2014 are:
Christto & Andrew (QA), Charles-Henry Bédué (FR), Andrey Bogush (RUS/FIN), Jonny Briggs (UK), Daniel Everett (US), Lucas Foglia (US), Julien Gremaud (CH), Eva O'Leary and Harry Griffin (US), Jing Huang (CHN), Otto Kaan (NL), Sasha Kurmaz (UA), Catharine Maloney (US), Yoshinori Mizutani (JP), Nerhol (JP), Alice Quaresma (BRA), Émilie Régnier (CAN), Jan Rosseel (BE), Jennifer Niederhauser Schlup (CH), Sarah Ancelle Schönfeld (DE), Lukas Wassmann (CH), Hannah Whitaker (US)

Foam Talent 2014 has already been exhibited in Amsterdam and Paris, so it's wonderful to see it come to Dubai, an opportunity for anyone interested in photography to see new work. It's also great to see this year's edition includes artists from the Gulf region, the Qatar based duo Christto & Andrew

The following is a small selection of work from Foam Talent 2014 (all text via which can also be found in the Foam Talent 2014 magazine issue which is worth purchasing). The exhibition is on till Saturday, 10th January, make sure you go visit to see the work in person. 


Christto & Andrew


'Underlying the pair's interest in colour, excess and fakery is a strong critique of their adopted home. Simplistically, it highlights the mute tonalities of contemporary Middle Eastern art, which chafes against the pair's own experience of colour in their birth countries. More fundamentally, the pop-propagandistic idiom of their work is both a reproduction of, and analysis of Qatar's optimistic but unequal modernisation drive.'

From Christto Sanz and Andrew Weir, an essay on Christto & Andrew by Sean O'Toole. 

Charles-Henry Bédué

'In his project L'Habit Fait Le Moine, or The Clothes Make The Man, the French photographer Charles-Henry Bédué supplies a unique and highly thought-provoking window into aspects of materialism in Chinese culture. Photographed between 2011 and 2013 in Beijing, Bédué's project ostensibly focuses on objects of consumption such as clothing, shoes, handbags, mobile phones, food and so forth. Perhaps aided by his culturally elevated position as photographer and artist, he is able to enter seemingly exclusive venues for the emerging class of elites where these objects are put on display for others to see.'

From Fashioning the Rise of a New Global Economic Order, an essay on Charles-Henry by Marco Bohr. 

Jonny Briggs

'An encounter with the work of Jonny Briggs is profoundly unsettling. To enter into his artistic world is to inhabit a parallel universe created by the lovechild of David Lynch and Ralph Eugene Meatyard. The spirit of enquiry that propels this work, coupled with its formal beauty, symmetry, and strict application of colour, seduce the viewer into a prolonged act of looking.'

From Meeting Myself Coming Back, an essay on Jonny by Max Houghton.

Andrey Bogush

'When Andrey Bogush began studying psychology, he also started making photographs. His first pictures, made for his friends and family, took natural subjects and were printed as straight images. 'I was making landscapes. Cheesy sunsets and blah blah blah,' he explained dismissively to me over a shoddy skype connection. I wanted to know why such fine pictures weren't good enough, why he feels the need to alter them. Bogush says quite casually of his current practice, 'I should like the original image. I should like it somehow. But the next stage is either destroying it or doing something with it.''

From A Loving Destruction, an essay on Andrey by Matthew Leifheit. 

Julien Gremaud

'Once blown up to large-scale photographic prints, these double images become haunting monuments to a paradoxical world where the very notion of an objective media comes into question. Gremaud purposefully presents double images that create a contradiction from within: an idyllic holiday scene mixed together with a destroyed cityscape, or an image of mourners overlooking a mass grave juxtaposed with a photograph of a hectic media scrum.'

From Representing the Death of Neoliberalism, an essay on Julien by Marco Bohr. 

Jing Huang

'The scenes and people in Jing Huang's photographs are quite familiar: a group of trees, an outstretched hand dropping a bottle, two boats at sea, and a cat lounging on a step. Nothing flashy or obviously exotic grabs the viewer's attention. Yet within these mundane vignettes is an undercurrent of mystery. Is it the open expanse of warm light that wraps the trees in fog, or the sense that the bottle being dropped will land on a boat seen in the distance? Hard to say, yet there is always something there - something that fuels a desire to explore beyond the image surface.'

From Visual Poetry, an essay on Jing by Russet Lederman. 

Sasha Kurmaz

'The recent anti-government protests in Ukraine that began in November 2013 as a response to the rejection of a trade agreement with the EU and the strengthening political influence of Putin's Russia brought protestors in their hundreds of thousands into Independence Square in Kiev. The protesters who occupied the square, the Maidan, became the targets of brutal violence; the surrounding pale stone buildings were blackened by fire. Ukrainian artist Sasha Kurmaz witnessed this profoundly shocking chapter in his country's tumultuous history. His necessary artistic response was spontaneous: art as resistance; art as freedom.'

From Space of Possibilities, an essay on Sasha by Max Houghton.

Yoshinori Mizutani

'The Tokyo Parrots are obvious in some ways. We would conceivably notice them ourselves were we to wander the particular streets of Tokyo they live near. But for sure we would not see them the way Yoshinori Mizutani makes us see and experience them. The photographer elevates what must be a strange spectacle in person, to bring us a different, equally strange, and compelling beautiful spectacle in the form of photographs.'

From Tokyo Parrots, an essay on Yoshinori by Jörg Colberg.


'Through a process of discovery that combines the layering of multiple images with the reductive act of carving, Nerhol enlivens the flat and motionless planes of a photograph to reveal the connected fleeting movements that are the spirit of a living organism. Simply put, Nerhol expands our collective understanding of time through works that address the once-alive, now-dead side effect that is a residue of photography's fundamental nature.'

From Time Rediscovered, an essay on Nerhol by Russet Lederman.

Émilie Régnier

'I am really driven by the idea of showing a West African society that is growing,' says Régnier. That means ignoring the easy and the rote: pictures of elites quaffing champagne, or images cataloguing the atrocities of war. Witnessing with a camera takes many forms. For Régnier, photographic truth is located in the bodily presence of young West Africans proudly negotiating their future, a diverse future of many possibilities.'

From Diverse Future, an essay on Émilie by Sean O'Toole.  

Sarah Ancelle Schönfeld

'For All you can feel, Schönfeld transformed her studio into an alchemist's laboratory in which she combined the chemical components of photography and drugs to create a new amalgam. On the monochrome surfaces of developed negatives, she dripped liquid drugs from a pipette. According to its chemical composition, each created the most fantastic shapes.'

From Altered States, an essay on Sarah by Kim Knoppers. 

Hannah Whitaker

'The structure of a photograph is often inaudible, muffled by the image it depicts. Hannah Whitaker amplifies this edifice, often working within strict, self-imposed structures derived from systems such as music and mathematics; the resulting work purposefully undermines its own logic by embracing chance and human error. Her light-based, in-camera work puts the material flatness of the photograph at odds with the dimensionality of her underlying, figurative photographic representations.'

From Open Systems, an essay on Hannah by Liz Sales. 



Event details

Date: On till Saturday, 10th January 2015 (Saturday - Thursday 10:00am – 3:00pm and 5:00- 8:00 pm)
Venue: East Wing, Limestone House, Dubai International Financial Centre (location map)
Free entry.



The Culturist turns 5

Washington, D.C., circa 1927. "Thayer Studio." No further information on these lithe and lissome lovelies. Harris & Ewing glass negative.

The Culturist is 5 years old. It turned another year older on 9th December, but just like last year, I missed it because I was busy at the Dubai International Film Festival.  

I threw an early birthday blog party, celebrating 4 ¾ years in September (which was a LOT of fun). Hopefully will get a chance next year to throw a party to celebrate 6 years.

As always, I am very thankful to all my readers, friends (old and new) who always encourage me to blog and to share my interests. 

Thanks for visiting, reading, coming back and spreading the word. 



[image via Shorpy]



Film Screening: Urbanized 

Sharjah Art Foundation will be screening Gary Hustwit's Urbanized
on Saturday, 20th December 2014. The free screening will take place in the outdoor Mirage City Cinema in the Sharjah Art Foundation Art Spaces

Urbanized is the third part of Gary Hustwit’s design film trilogy, Helvetica and Objectified

Urbanized is a feature-length documentary about the design of cities, which looks at the issues and strategies behind urban design and features some of the world’s foremost architects, planners, policymakers, builders, and thinkers. Over half the world’s population now lives in an urban area, and 75% will call a city home by 2050. But while some cities are experiencing explosive growth, others are shrinking. The challenges of balancing housing, mobility, public space, civic engagement, economic development, and environmental policy are fast becoming universal concerns. Yet much of the dialogue on these issues is disconnected from the public domain.

Who is allowed to shape our cities, and how do they do it? Unlike many other fields of design, cities aren’t created by any one specialist or expert. There are many contributors to urban change, including ordinary citizens who can have a great impact improving the cities in which they live. By exploring a diverse range of urban design projects around the world, Urbanized frames a global discussion on the future of cities.




Event details
Date: Saturday, 20th December 2014 at 8.30pm
Venue: Mirage City Cinema, SAF Art Spaces, Behind Al Zahra Mosque, Sharjah (location map) 



Tiga in Dubai on 18th December 2014



Fans of electronica music rejoice, renowned DJ, producer and record label owner Tiga will be in Dubai on Thursday, 18th December 2014 for the opening of O2 Night Club in Sofitel the Palm Jumeirah.


Tiga James Sontag (born 1974 in Montreal, Canada) is a Canadian musician, DJ and record producer of electronic dance music. Tiga has released two albums entitled Sexor and Ciao! Sexor won the 2007 Juno Award for Dance Recording of the Year. Tiga released a selection of compilations in the early 2000s, featuring mixes such as American Gigolo, DJ-Kicks: Tiga and, Mixed Emotions, which put him on the map as one of "the world's best mixers".

Tiga has remixed songs from the likes of The xx, LCD Soundsystem, The Kills, Cabaret Voltaire, Scissor Sisters, Peaches, Moby, Depeche Mode, Justice, Friendly Fires and Mylo.

As a solo artist, Tiga released "Sunglasses at Night" with Finnish producer Jori Hulkkonen (aka Zyntherius). The single reached number 25 in the UK Dance Chart. 


More info about the night can be found here. To get you in the mood, here are some of my favourite Tiga remixes. 







Event details
Date: Thursday, 18th December 2014. Doors open at 8pm.
Ticket: AED 100 via and AED 150 on the door. 
Event page on Facebook