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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.


RIP Roger Ebert


Last night I was out with friends, it was a night filled with great conversations and good laughs. But late into the night, I had a quick look at Twitter and there it was, a flood of tweets saying RIP Roger Ebert.

I was shocked, since it was only a day earlier Roger Ebert said he would slow down due to the return of cancer in his very moving blogpost, "A Leave of Presence". Needless to say, my mood changed and went home shortly after finding out the sad news. 

I always knew the day we lose Roger Ebert would be a very sad day for me. I normally don't dwell too much when it comes to celebrity deaths, but not when it comes to Roger Ebert. I am really saddened by the news of his death. I admired his writing a lot and was always in awe of him, especially over the past few years. He's battled cancer, became disfigured after losing his jaw, he lost his voice and ability to eat and drink - and despite all that, he carried on doing what he loves to do, write. Writing about movies, life and anything else that took his fancy, with passion, elegance and integrity.

One of my all time favourite writings by Roger Ebert isn't even about a movie, it's about his inability to eat and converse with people over a meal, Nil by Mouth

So that's what's sad about not eating. The loss of dining, not the loss of food. It may be personal, but for, unless I'm alone, it doesn't involve dinner if it doesn't involve talking. The food and drink I can do without easily. The jokes, gossip, laughs, arguments and shared memories I miss. Sentences beginning with the words, "Remember that time?" I ran in crowds where anyone was likely to break out in a poetry recitation at any time. Me too. But not me anymore. So yes, it's sad. Maybe that's why I enjoy this blog. You don't realize it, but we're at dinner right now.



We will no longer look forward to new words by Roger Ebert, but his memory will live on through everything he's written and published.  I leave you with the following quote, that I can't stop thinking about.  

‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs,” he wrote, at the end of his memoirs. “No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do.

To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out. (via



via The Futurist 



RIP Roger Ebert, 1942-2013. 


[image via The Criterion Collection]


Film Screening - Shūbun (Scandal) by Akira Kurosawa


Just found out an Akira Kurosawa film will be screened tomorrow night, Thursday, 28th March at 8pm, in an outdoor venue at The Archive in Safa Park in Dubai. This doesn't happen often. Don't miss this.


About Shūbun (Scandal): 

Ichiro Aoye, a young painter, encounters a famous singer, Miyako Saijo, while on holiday in the mountains. He gives her a ride and coincidentally stays at the same inn.

A tabloid magazine specializing in scandals blows this encounter up into a huge falsehood designed to humiliate Miyako, who has been uncooperative with the press.

Ichiro sues, but his lawyer, needing money for his sick daughter's treatment, accepts a bribe to throw the case. (via TCM)





Event details 
Date and time: Thursday, 28th March 8.00-10.00pm
Venue: The Archive, Safa Park (Gate 5), Dubai (location map)
Park entrance fee: AED 3 
Event on Facebook 



[Image via Wikipedia


Franco Film Festival 2013

Cinephiles rejoice, there's a film festival this week in Dubai with a focus on the Francophone region. It's on from 23rd to 29th March in VOX Cinemas in Mall of the Emirates. All the films are subtitled in English.


Here's the schedule and list of films:


Saturday, 23rd March at 6pm 

France Asterix & Obelix : God Save Britannia (France, 2012) 


Directed by Laurent Tirard with Gerard Depardieu, Catherine Deneuve and Edouard Baer. The year is 50 AD and Julius Caesar is hungry for new conquests. At the helm of his triumphant legions, he decides to invade a small island at the very edge of the known world, a mysterious land named Britain. Victory is swift and total... almost.

A small village manages to resist, but it can’t hold out for long, so the Briton Queen Cordelia sends her most faithful officer Anticlimax to seek aid in Gaul, in a small village known for its stubborn resistance to the Romans. In this Gaul village, Asterix and Obelix already have their hands full, since their chief has entrusted them with the task of making a man of his good-for-nothing nephew Justforkix, freshly arrived from Lutetia - a task that is proving all but easy.

When Anticlimax arrives to ask for help, Asterix and Obelix are tasked with escorting him back to Britain with a barrel of their famous magic potion, with Justforkix in tow as the journey seems an excellent opportunity to educate the boy. However, nothing quite turns out as planned.

Saturday, 23rd March at 9pm

The Wind Horse / Le Cheval De Vent (Morocco, 2002) 

Directed by Daoud Aoulad Syad, “The Wind Horse” is a story about the friendship that develops between a man in his sixties and a man in his thirties. It’s a road movie – seen from a sidecar – in which poetry and fantasy spring from a background of dull, everyday routine.

Tahar, once a blacksmith, leaves his son’s house in the little town of Salé, where he feels he becomes nothing but a burden and a nuisance. Driss, the younger man, leaves hospital without knowing whether he is cured or has little time left to live. He concentrates all his energy on a letter he has received, informing him that his mother wishes to see her children one last time after growing up with an older brother, convinced that his mother had died when he was three years old.

What brings Tahar and Driss together is the nature of their quest, each has set his sights on a fantasy horizon, and prefers to keep yearning for it than actually facing up to reality.



Sunday, 24th March at 9pm

The Giants / Les Géants (Belgium, 2011)

Directed by Bouli Lanners. It’s summer time; Zak and Seth find themselves dead broke and ditched by their absentee mother in the family’s cottage. Just like every holiday, they’ve resigned themselves to another shitty summer. But things change this year, when they meet Danny, a local teenager. Together, with life at their fingertips, they begin the great perilous journey of their lives. 



Monday, 25th March at 9pm

Mister Lazhar / Monsieur Lazhar (Canada, 2011)


Directed by Philippe Falardeau with Mohamed Fellag, Sophie Nélisse and Émilien Néron. At a Montréal public grade school, an Algerian immigrant is hired to replace a popular teacher who committed suicide in her classroom. While helping his students deal with their grief, his own recent loss is revealed.



Tuesday, 26th March at 9pm

The Lebanese Rocket Society (Lebanon, 2013) 

Directed by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige. When the two filmmakers inadvertently discovered that their native Lebanon launched the first rocket in the Middle East in the 1960s, and that the nation was immensely proud of its involvement in the international race to conquer the last frontier, they were surprised and intrigued. Why had such a significant episode in Lebanon’s history been altogether erased from the collective memory?

Interviewing scientists, professors and army authorities involved in the development of the rocket project, the directors uncover a dream of future glory that was halted and silenced by international pressure following the Arab-Israeli military conflict of 1967.

In bringing this exciting chapter of Lebanese history to light, Hadjithomas and Joreige’s film reflects the reawakening of the hopes and dreams of the peoples of the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring. 



Wednesday, 27th March at 9pm 

The Little Room/ La Petite Chambre (Switzerland, 2012) 


Directed by Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond. This is a story of the heart. Edmond’s is no longer strong. But it still beats with an independence which fights against the very idea of entering a retirement home, while at the same time refusing help from Rose, his home carer.

Nonetheless she stands up to him. She knows the tumult that a heart undergoes when it is forced to accept the unacceptable. Hers hasn’t yet healed. One day however, a bad fall forces Edmond to accept Rose’s support.




Thursday, 28th March at 9pm 

The Hunger / La Faim (Egypt, 1986)

Film still from The Hunger (via by Aly Barakhan with Souad Hosny, Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, Yousra. The movie, based upon the novel of the same name by Naguib Mahfouz, examines the social conditions of Cairenes during the first decade of the twentieth century.

In doing so, both the movie and novel deal extensively with the themes of poverty and death. In this adaptation of episodes from Mahfouz’s 1977 novel The Harafish, a weak-willed man accidentally kills one of the gangsters to whom local merchants pay protection money. The resulting adulation goes to his head, as he profits during a famine and takes a second wife from a higher class.



Friday, 29th March at 4pm

The Illusionist/ L’illusionniste (France, 2010)


Directed by Sylvain Chomet. The illusionist is a dying breed of stage performer. Ever since rock and pop stars have taken away slightly more than his bread and butter, his worsening economic situation has forced him to accept questionable engagements in dubious basement venues, at garden parties or in bars and cafés.

In one of these obscure establishments, he meets an innocent young girl named Alice. Alice is just as delighted by his magical tricks. The performance has been arranged in order to celebrate the advent of electricity on their remote island. But, unlike the others, Alice is completely captivated by our hero and is convinced that his tricks are truly the result of magic.

She follows the illusionist to Edinburgh and keeps house for him while he performs at a small local theatre. Unable to imagine anything worse than disappointing Alice, the illusionist can’t admit that he cannot really perform magic instead allowing himself to be bankrupted by the constant present-giving. (Based on a screenplay by Jacques Tati). 


[Film synopsis via]


The Culturist Blog Party at House 9


I'm hosting my first "Blog Party" this Sunday, 24th March in The Culturist at House 9 at the SIKKA Art Fair. It's the last day of the fair and everyone is invited to House 9 for one last farewell to the fair.

SIKKA has been on since 14th March and if you've not been, this is your last chance. Also check out the SIKKA blog, it has some very well written and insightful observations about SIKKA and about the different events happening there. 

On the last day of the fair, House 9 will host a small little shinding in the courtyard, which I must say is lovely little courtyard that I've grown very attached to. It won't be a full on party as the house is close to a mosque, but I've been told I can turn up the volume after the last call to prayer. 


In case you are still not familiar with SIKKA, it is an artist-led fair of commissioned work and for this year. I was invited to represent my blog during the fair, hence "The Culturist at House 9" which is an offline experiential transformation of the blog covering major themes from the blog such as films, music, travel, photography and the 1980s in three different rooms: Screen | Travel | Reminisce 

The Culturist at House 9 - Room 1 - Screen

The Culturist at House 9 - Room 2 - Travel

The Culturist at House 9 - Room 1 - Reminisce

If you've not been to SIKKA or The Culturist at House 9, this is your last chance. Three days left for the fair, so go over this weekend or visit on Sunday. 

Fair timings for the next 3 days:
Friday, 22nd March 16:00 – 00:00
Saturday, 23rd March 12:00 – 00:00
Sunday, 24th March 18:00 – 00:00 

My party will be from 20:00-22:00 on Sunday 24th March (or till the security kick us out). 
Directions to SIKKA



Art Dubai 2013

Otobong Nkanga, Why don’t you grow where we come from? (2012) Woven textile and Photography, inkjet print / Viscose, cashmere wool, mohair, bio cotton and laser cut forex plate. Image courtesy the artist and Lumen Travo Gallery.


The seventh edition of Art Dubai is back this week from 20th-23rd March at the Madinat Jumeirah. This year's edition will host 75 galleries from 30 countries, over half are from the Middle East and South Asia.  

But as I said before, I'm always more excited about the commissioned projects, talks and performances that take place during Art Dubai. You can see the complete programme here


Here are my top picks: 

Sculpture on the Beach 

Hassan Sharif, Weave 2, 2012 (Medium: aluminium, copper wire). Image courtesy of the artist and Alexander Gray Associates

Sculpture on the Beach is a new addition to Art Dubai, it's an exhibition of sculptural and large-scale works by 11 artists curated by Chus Martinez, Chief curator of El Museo del Barrio, formerly Documenta 13’s Head of Department. This exhibition will be located on the Mina A’Salam beach (a five-minute walk from the gallery halls and adjacent to the Art Dubai Beach Brasserie).



The Hatch

Ali Cherri, Slippage, Still from DV Video, 2007. Image courtesy of Ali Cherri. 

The Hatch returns this year with a programme curated by artist Maha Maamoun, founding board-member of the Contemporary Image Collective (CiC), Cairo.This year's programme will feature work by three artists: Ali Cherri, Hassan Khan, and Anri Sala.

From proposals sent by Art Dubai participating galleries, Maamoun selected the artists based on the strength and singularity of their work. This disparate grouping of films is tangentially linked by how they pick at nerves, words and chords: a musical score recalls a musical score, or drowns out every other sound, echoing a rising tension, and short-circuiting a conversation; a conversation cancels out all other audible sound and fleshes out the minutiae of daily interpersonal power games; and power will try to subvert a city, a body, an image, or a radio-transmission of Fairuz singing.



Commissioned Projects Joe Namy

Image via Delfina Foundation

There are several commissioned projects for Art Dubai this year, you can see the full list here, but I am really looking forward to the following projects: 

Joe Namy

Namy has spent part of his three-month residency in Dubai researching traditional song and dance, once used for ritual healing, and unique to the UAE.

Namy’s performance, entitled Transfiguration, draws upon the parallels between these ritual dances and their rhythmic connections to contemporary electronic music. 

Transfiguration will be presented as a multi-media installation including a live performance at Art Dubai on Wednesday 20 March at 7PM on the Water Terrace.


Ahmet Öğüt

Intern VIP lounge will be an exclusive space for all the unpaid interns working at the art fair. Only these volunteers, after registering at the Intern VIP Lounge's information desk, will be able to access the lounge – an exclusive space that not only provides a relaxed and entertaining ambience, but also operates as a knowledge exchange space, with a special programme of events, including meetings, presentations and film screenings.



Global Art Forum_7

Global Art Forum_6, 2012

Global Art Forum is back this year with a diverse line-up of participants, including artists, curators, musicians, strategists, thinkers and writers. This year's edition is entitled ‘It Means This’, directed by Istanbul based writer/editor HG Masters, and commissioned by writer/curator Shumon Basar.

‘It Means This’ will explore the concept of ‘definitionism’: investigating the words, terms, clichés and misunderstandings that proliferate in the art world and beyond. The Forum attempts to (re)define words, phrases and ideas we think we know, and those we need to know, to navigate the 21st century. 



Each session or element of the Forum will take on a keyword; some are terms we use every day – such as Heritage, Biography, Freezone, Score and Place (looking particularly at how the cities Lagos and Ramallah having been shaped by writers and artists).

Other terms may be less familiar – including Academese, Advert Adverts, Drone Fiction, MENA (Middle East Nervous Anxiety), or Neologism. The eclectic line-up of Forum contributors are set to pick apart these terms through talks, debates, performances, TV clips, new publications, films, music, and so much more.




This year's forum will feature over 40 contributors, including:

New participants:

Dubai-based political scientist Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla; poet and authorMourid Barghouti (I Saw Ramallah, among other books); artist and former REM lead singer Michael Stipe; writer-editors Charles Arsene-HenryBrian Kuan Wood (Editor, eflux journal) and Guy Mannes-Abbott (author, In Ramallah, Running); artists Tarek AtouiTristan BeraManal Al DowayanDominique Gonzalez-FoersterShuruq HarbHassan KhanEmeka OgbohSlavs and TatarsAla Younis; writers Elif Batuman (contributor, New Yorker), Maryam Monalisa Gharavi (Editor-at-Large, The New Inquiry), Oscar Guardiola-Rivera (author ofWhat if Latin America Ruled the World?); Lagos-based writer-editor Tolu Ogunlesi; writer/urbanist Keller Easterling (Professor, Yale University); curator-translator, and Dar Al-Ma’mun co-director, Omar Berrada; curators Reem Fadda (Associate Curator, Middle Eastern Art, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project, and curator, National Pavilion for the UAE at the Venice Biennial), Koyo Kouoh (director, Raw Material Company, Dakar), Bisi Silva (director, CCA Lagos) and Tirdad Zolghadr (writer, based at Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College NY); New York-based anthropologist Uzma Z. Rizvi; composer and musician Andre Vida; and Doha-based analyst and commentator Tarik Yousef.

Returning participants:

Writer and artist Douglas Coupland; curator Lara Khaldi (Director, Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre, Ramallah); geostrategist and Director of Hybrid Reality Institute Parag Khanna; Turi Munthe, the founder of ‘citizen journalist’ newswire Demotix; Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects of the Serpentine Gallery, London, Hans-Ulrich Obrist; and the founder of Barjeel Art Foundation Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi. 



Here are highlights from Art Dubai 2012. Don't miss this year's edition. I plan to be there everyday, so if you are around, come and say hello.


Art Night in Dubai on 18th March 2013

Galleries Night at Alserkal Avenue

Art Nights at DIFC Gate Village

Dubai will have a double edition of Art Night happening on Monday, 18th January, where two different venues, DIFC Gate Village and Alserkal Avenue, will host gallery openings on the night.  

It's a great opportunity to go gallery hopping to enjoy some good art (or make fun of some bad art like I do with my friends).  I won't be able to go to both venues, so I'm planning to spend time at Alserkal Avenue and looking forward to a fun art night there.
I've listed some of the must see exhibitions in both venues, but you can find the full line up of exhibitions via the following links: 
Art Nights at DIFC Gate Village
Galleries Night at Alserkal Avenue

Alserkal Avenue Gallery Nights from 6pm-9pm:
Lawrie Shabibi: Adel Abidin - Symphony (18th March-18th April 2013)  

Green Art Gallery: Shadi Habib Allah - Evacutaed Containers (14th March-5th May 2013) 
Shadi Habib Allah, Imprint, 2009-Ongoing, Digital print

Shelter: Richard Allenby-Pratt - Abandoned (18th March-1st May 2013)
Richard Allenby-Pratt, Abandoned series, Giraffe

STORiES Pop Up: Ethical.Design.Collective (18th-23rd March 2013)

STORiEs Pop Up: STORiEs by Ethical.Design.Collective (18th-23th March 2013)

Grey Noise: Hossein Valamanesh - Selected Works 1992-2013 (18th March-30th April 2013)
Hossein Valamanesh, Face to Face 2002, prayer caps, straw mat, mirrors, clay, 90x198x18 cm

DIFC Gate Village Art Nights from 7pm-10pm:

Ayyam Gallery: Afshin Pirhashemi  - The Wrong Women (18th March-25th April 2013)
Afshin Pirhashemi, The First-timer, 2012 - Oil on Canvas 100 X 150 cm.

Cuadro Gallery - Various Artists 

Nadine Kanso, From The Khaled Series, 2013


The Empty Quarter: Open Wounds (18th March-25th April 2013)

Rhea Karam: Series: Breathing Walls, Rockheads, 2008





Event details:
Date: 18th March 2013
Timings: Alserkal Avenue, 6pm-9pm (location map)
         DIFC Gate Village, 7pm-10pm (location map


Design Days Dubai 2013

Always/Never by United Visual Artists, 2012


The second edition of Design Days is back this week from 18th-21st March and will be held in the same venue as last year, next to Burj Khalifa in The Venue - Downtown Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard  (formerly known as Emaar Boulevard).

Design Days Dubai is dedicated to collectible and limited edition furniture and design objects. Our goal is to present, both regional and internationally, the best of design to collectors and a wide audience of design enthusiasts.

Through strong cooperation with local partners and a diverse educational programme, we aim to strengthen greater appreciation and understanding for design as a form of applied arts. 


The second edition of the fair will feature design galleries from Mexico to Melbourne, representing all six continents, plus a  series of talks, workshops, performances and film screenings. The complete line up and schedule can be found here

I quite enjoyed last year's fair and looking forwrad to seeing some beautiful objects, even if I can't really afford to buy them. 

Here are some of the objects you will see at this year's Design Days Dubai.


A million times (Time Dubai) by Humans Since 1982


Designed by Humans Since 1982 made of 288 clocks, dimension: 344cm x 180cm x 5cm 


Weighing Up The Competition by Rolf Sachs, represented by Gallery Libby Sellers, 2012


Dream Lantern by Chen Lu, 2011


Watson table (Limited edition of 8) by Paul Loebach


Sansa Armchair by Cheick Diallo 2012




Event details
Dates and timings: 18th-21st March, 4pm - 10pm (Preview - 17th March, by invitation only)
Venue: The Venue - Downtown Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, next to Burj Khalifa
Tickets: AED 50 can be purchased at the fair (by purchasing a ticket, you donate AED 25 to the World Food Programme). Children & students (<18 years) and university or college groups can enter for free. 


SIKKA 2013 - The Culturist at House 9 


Following up on my post about SIKKA, here's a separate post with more information about my involvement in this year's fair. I am happy and proud to say that The Culturist is taking part in SIKKA this year.

Yours truly was commissioned to put together a project related to this blog and during the fair, from 14th-24th March, I will have a house (House no. 9) that will be an extension of the blog, a physical presence of the blog.


House 9  will cover major themes from the blog such as films, music, travel, photography and the 1980s in three different rooms:
Screen | Travel | Reminisce 

Here's the write up by SIKKA:

The  is an independent blog run by Hind Mezaina that offers a unique voice in the cultural sphere of Dubai and the region. It contains visually stimulating images, videos and sounds. It also aims to showcase creative talent and inspire its readers.

The Culturist is creating an offline experiential transformation of the blog in House 9 that will allow visitors to interact with the space and each other. House 9 will cover major themes from the blog such as films, music, travel, photography and the 1980s.


During the 10 days of the fair, you can expect the following: 

Room 1 - Screen
A selection of short films and featurettes, (that have been shared on this blog or clips I recently found online or through friends) will be screened in a dark room, where you can sit comfortably and switch off from everything else around you. I hope the clips you will see will bring you joy and inspiration as they did to me. 


Room 2 - Travel
This room will feature ephemera that I've collected from my travels over the past few years. 

Room 3 - Reminisce
This room will feature more ephemera, but this time, from Dubai. See a selection of posters, flyers, ticket stubs from events dating back to 2004. It's to showcase the cultural scene has been active for a while - even if it has been a slow moving scene at some times. Digging these items that have been stored all over the place in my room was a joy, because it brought back lots of good memories. I really do hope you will like what you see. 

The room will also have some old music clips (Khaleeji, Egyptian, Lebanese, European and Bollywood), screening on a wall. It's some of the music I remember listening to and watched on TV in the late 1970s/early 1980s. It was great fun finding these clips online. Here's one example. You've got to come to the house to see more.

Dalida - Salma Ya Salama




I've been busy trying to set up the house for the past few days, and testing equipment like projectors and DVD players. Here's what the house looks like from the open courtyard. I will share more photos when everything is set up.

I am quite excited (and nervous) about this project. If you are in the neighbourhood, please drop by and say hello. 






SIKKA will be on from 14th - 24th March. There are several options on how to get there, metro, bus, taxi - location map and details can be found here

Fair timings: 
Thursday 14 March 18:00 – 00:00
Friday   15 March 16:00 – 00:00
Saturday 16 March 12:00 – 00:00
Sunday   17 March 14:00 – 22:00
Monday   18 March 14:00 – 22:00
Tuesday  19 March 14:00 – 22:00
Wednesday20 March 14:00 – 22:00
Thursday 21 March 14:00 – 00:00
Friday   22 March 16:00 – 00:00
Saturday 23 March 12:00 – 00:00
Sunday   24 March 18:00 – 00:00


SIKKA Art Fair 2013


SIKKA* Art Fair is an artist-led fair of commissioned work located in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood (formally known as Bastakiya). 

SIKKA was founded by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority and has been running since 2011. Its aim is to support home-grown creativity and showcase artistic talent based in the United Arab Emirates.

This year’s edition is on from 14th-24th March and will include over 70 UAE-based artists and 14 multidisciplinary initiatives and collectives, plus an array of special projects, workshops, panel discussions, artist led walks, live music, performances and film screenings.  

The fair has been growing year on year, and I'm happy to say that I am taking part this year (a separate post about my project is coming up right after this post).  

The complete line up of artists and projects, plus the SIKKA 2013 Programme and workshops can be found on SIKKA's website. I strongly urge you have a look and block some time in your calendar for this fair. 


The opening night is on Thursday, 14th March from 6.00pm till midnight. It will be a fun night to meander through Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood to check out all the work in the lovely houses. There will be food and drinks, musical performances and an overall good vibe. 

If you've never been to SIKKA or Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, here's a clip from last year's SIKKA to give you an a feel of what to expect.



Fair timings:

Thursday 14 March 18:00 – 00:00
Friday   15 March 16:00 – 00:00
Saturday 16 March 12:00 – 00:00
Sunday   17 March 14:00 – 22:00
Monday   18 March 14:00 – 22:00
Tuesday  19 March 14:00 – 22:00
Wednesday20 March 14:00 – 22:00
Thursday 21 March 14:00 – 00:00
Friday   22 March 16:00 – 00:00
Saturday 23 March 12:00 – 00:00
Sunday   24 March 18:00 – 00:00


* SIKKA draws its name from the alleyways between the historic houses of Dubai, and serves as a metaphor that befits the young and upcoming artists who seek to establish their creative and professional paths through their participation in the fair. 


Sharjah Biennial 11 - 13th March-13 May 2013



If you've never been to Sharjah, you must know that it is the most cultured Emirate in the UAE, it's less about the style and more about the substance. Admittedly, I don't go here as much as I should, but hoping to spend time there during Sharjah Biennial 11 which starts on 13th March and go on till 13th May 2013.


The title of this year's Sharjah Biennial is "Re:emerge, Towards a New Cultural Cartography", where its curator Yuko Hasegawa proposes a Biennial "that reassess the Westerncentrism of knowledge in modern times and reconsiders the relationship between the Arab world, Asia, the Far East, through North Africa and Latin America."



Hasegawa was inspired by the courtyard in Islamic architecture, in particular the historical courtyards of Sharjah, where elements of both public and private life intertwine, and where the objective political world and the introspective subjective space intersect and cross over.

The courtyard is also seen as a plane of experience and experimentation—an arena for learning and critical thinking of a discursive and embodied kind. It marks a generative space for the production of new awareness and knowledge. Within the network of intensifying international and globalising links, the courtyard as an experiential and experimental space comes to mirror something of Sharjah as a vital zone of creativity, transmission, and transformation.  (via


Sharjah Biennial 11 will inlclude more than 100 artists, architects, filmmakers, musicians and performers whose artworks and practices will "resonate with strands of the curatorial theme: the complexity and diversity of cultures and societies; spatial and political relations; notions of new forms of contact, dialogue, and exchange; and production through art and architectural practices of new ways of knowing, thinking, and feeling".
You can see the full line up of artists, musicians and filmmakers here.


The Opening Week Progamme will run from 13th-17th March and will include performances, films, lectures and the annual March Meeting (a symposium featuring thematic sessions and moderated panel discussions that will reflect on and contexualise the concept of this year's biennial). 

I am quite excited about the film and music programme during this week. Here's why:


Film Programme

Janie Geiser, The Fourth Watch, 2000, Courtesy of the Artist

The film programme is curated by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the 2010 Palme d'Or for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

It will feature programming by leading figures in the film industry, including one of favourite actresses, Tilda SwintonSteve Anker, Dean of the School of Film/Video at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Mehelli Modi, Founder of Second Run DVD; Alcino Leite Neto, editor; Khavn De La Cruz, poet, pianist, filmmaker; Jean-Pierre Rehm, theorist, Festival Director, FIDMarseille; Ali Jaafar, Executive Director, Independent Film Division, Quinta Communications, London. 

The programme will include panel discussions and evening screenings that will take place in the Mirage City Cinema, a cinema-architecture space by Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Ole Scheeren, commissioned by the Sharjah Art Foundation.


Cao Guimarães, Soul of the Bone (A Alma do Osso), 2004, still, Courtesy of the Artist


Thursday, 14th March - Mirage City Cinema, Maurouth Square
8.30pm-9.30pm Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Ole Scheerin lead a discussion featuring the film programmers
9.30pm-10.30pm Screening programmed by Tilda Swinton
11.00pm-1.00am Screening programmed by Jean- Pierre Rehm   

Friday, 15th March - Mirage City Cinema, Maurouth Square  
8.30pm-9.30pm Ali Jaafar leads a discussion on Sharjah Biennial 11 commissioned films from the Middle East
9.30pm-11.30pm Screening programmed by Ali Jaafar
11.30pm-1.00am Screening programmed by Steve Anker 
1.00am-2.15am Screening programmed by Alcino Leite Neto   

Saturday, 16th March - Mirage City Cinema, Maurouth Square  
8.30pm-9.30pm Khavn de la Cruz leads a discussion on Sharjah Biennial 11 commissioned films from the Philippines 
9.30om-11.30pm Screenings programmed by Khavn De La Cruz  

Sunday, 17th March - Mirage City Cinema, Maurouth Square  
9.30pm-11.30pm Screenings programmed by Mehelli Modi 
11.30pm-1.15am Screenings programmed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul 



Music and Performance Programme 

Tarek Atoui

The music programme will include international and regional artists including sound artist Tarek Atoui who will orchestrate a series of new commissions by more than ten international musicians, including percussionists, and a commissioned solo performance by artist Hassan Khan

But I am particularly looking forward to seeing alva noto's Univrs (uniscope version), an audio-visual performance with a special appearance by Ryuichi Sakamoto


In his work, alva noto seeks to overcome the separation of art forms and genres to create an integrated artistic approach. His 2011 album univrs addresses the conceptual differentiation of a universal language (“universum/universal” as unity, entirety).

The visualisation of univrs (uniscope version) – an expanded screen projection setup – combines a variety of modules on a digital level that demonstrate different methods of audio analysis. The resulting signal processing is shown as a relay structure and is performed in real time. Each module can be zoomed in on, enabling greater visual detail.  (via


You can expect to hear and see something like this:



I saw alva noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto last month at Sonar Reykjavik during my visit to Iceland, and can't believe I will get a chance to see them again. It will be a very special performance and strongly recommend you don't miss this. 

Here's a clip featuring alva noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto from Sonar 2012 to give you a taster of what to expect.






The complete Sharjah Biennial 11 calendar or evensts can be found here. Sharjah Biennial 11 opening hours during Opening Week 13th-17th March:

Sunday to Thursday 9:00am – 9:00pm
Friday 10:00am – 12:00pm and 3:00pm – 10:00pm 

Contact details and location map can be found here.