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Tea with Culture

Podcast featuring discussions and interviews about the cultural happenings in the United Arab Emirates presented by Hind Mezaina (The Culturist) and Wael Hattar.


Deira Polaroids

© Hind Mezaina - Deira Clock Tower Roundabout

Deira Polaroids is a new photo series I started recently, it's an ongoing series of images I've taken during my frequent walks and visits to Deira (my favourite part of Dubai). It’s an ode to Deira, to visually showcase the thriving part of “old” Dubai. 

The first part of this series is exhibited at this year's SIKKA Art Fair in House 16. The exhibition is accompanied with an essay titled  “Deira Modern, Notes from Dubai” by Todd Reisz, which I featured here three years ago. The series includes some of my favourite buildings and spots, some have been around from the mid 1970s. 

Here are 10 photos from the 60 exhibited at SIKKA and extracts from Todd Reisz's essay. I really enjoyed my walks and taking these photos and plan to go back to take more. I am hoping to develop this into something bigger, so watch this space.    

© Hind Mezaina - Radisson Blu Deira 
© Hind Mezaina - Sheraton


Deira was Dubai’s most modern quarter. It still is, though it’s often referred to as “Old Dubai,” a generalization that only describes a stop on the Dubai visitor’s course. To see a gold souk, a fish market. To take an abra for no reason other than to take an abra.

The charm of the antiquated is an applied layer. Deira survives this nostalgia by ignoring it.


© Hind Mezaina - Bike 1 
© Hind Mezaina - Trees by the creek
In contrast to the towers of Sheikh Zayed Road, Deira might seem static and quaint, poor and outdated. This couldn’t be further from the truth. How could Deira be irrelevant when everyone complains that Deira is too crowded? It’s crowded because Deira is true urbanism; it’s more city than elsewhere in Dubai.  

© Hind Mezaina - Dubai Municipality 1
© Hind Mezaina - Dubai Municipality 2 
Today’s Deira operates not much differently than that of the 1970s when reclaimed land began to make Dubai a real estate success. The new shore separated the merchants from the ships. They were reconnected with dollies and Japanese pick-up trucks outfitted with wrought iron fencing that could weave through auto and foot traffic to deliver goods. 

It’s still done the same way today. Tourists snap pictures of a world that seems so much of yesterday: Pakistani men in ‘traditional’ dress wielding worn carts stacked with supplies. These men running carts from creek to shop are more essential to Dubai’s longevity than the latest office tower in Media City.   
© Hind Mezaina - Fish Roundabout 
 © Hind Mezaina - Claridge Hotel


If one wanted to locate a local approach to modernism in the Gulf region, one should start in the parts of cities like Deira. Shading built into building facades provides interaction with the street but also privacy from the street. These buildings should be inspiration for what could work in Dubai and in other cities, but tastes and preferences preclude that. These parts are written off as old, dirty, rat-infested. They are often all of these things. Most people living in the buildings would move out if they could . 
But the struggle, the need to stay vs the desire to leave, once defined cities. Cities were never places of comfort; they were where we once encountered the human soul.


© Hind Mezaina - Hyatt Regency

Deira Polaroids will be exhibited in House 16 SIKKA Art Fair till 25th March 2014 between 2.00-10.00pm. Location map.   

Art Dubai 2014 

FLAG II Artist byTimo Nasseri (2006) | Epoxy resin, enamel | Courtesy: the artist and SCHLEICHER/LANGE, Berlin | Dimension: 98 x 185 x 20 cm
The eighth edition of Art Dubai is on from 19th-22nd March in Madinat Jumeriah Arena and Mina Salaam Hotel which is right next to the arena. This year's edition includes a packed schedule of events, talks and new programming. 

I attended the press conference this morning and here's what you can expect. 



Cinema Opera (Cairo Billboards) by Lucien Samaha (1984) - Archival pigment print | Courtesy : Courtesy of the artist and Lombard Freid Gallery, New York | Dimension : 76.2 x 111.8 cm

Art Dubai’s Contemporary halls feature a diverse selection of over 70 galleries—from the world’s most established to dynamic young artspaces across 30 countries.

An international fair with its roots in the Gulf, Art Dubai features painting, sculpture, installation, photography and video by more than 500 artists. 


One Summer Afternoon by Rasheed Araeen (1968) | Painted wood | Courtesy of Grosvenor Gallery | Dimension : 74x50.5x51cm (max); 33.5x24x24.5cm (min)

New in 2014, Art Dubai Modern is devoted to Middle Eastern and South Asian art from the 20th century; the programme includes 11 galleries presenting solo and two-person shows of influential modern masters, plus research projects, talks and tours.

Art Dubai Modern is advised by a curatorial committee of eminent curators and historians: Savita Apte, Catherine David, Kristine Khouri and Nada Shabout.  


Baikonur 2 (Байконур 2) by Sergey Maslov (1990) | Installation, computer collage, sound projection and text | Courtesy of Asia Art+

Marker is Art Dubai’s curated, thematic programme of emerging artspaces. Following last year’s spotlight on West Africa, Marker 2014 looks to Central Asia and the Caucasus and is curated by the artists Slavs and Tatars.

Through the scope of portraiture, the works celebrate the complexities of faith, identity and language in these regions and their immediate relevance not only to the Muslim world, but to a global audience.

The programme is accompanied by a set of new artists’ books published by onestar press and daily talks and tours. 

Global Art Forum_8

Featuring commissioned projects and research, as well as live talks, the Global Art Forum brings together a diverse line-up of participants, including artists, curators, musicians, strategists, thinkers and writers.

Titled "Meanwhile...History", the Global Art Forum 2014 creates a timeline of turning points in history – significant decades, years, days, minutes or seconds that shifted an understanding of the world.

Commissioned by Shumon Basar with co- directors Omar Berrada and Ala Younis, the Forum is a journey through known and unknown histories, of critical change and secretly seismic moments.

The Global Art Forum runs over 5 days at Katara Art Center, Doha, March 15-16 and at Art Dubai, Mina A’ Salam, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, March 19-21, 2014. 

I've said this before and will say it again, the Global Art Forum is my favourite part of Art Dubai and although I didn't really like last year's edition, I am looking forward to this year's theme. Also happy to say I'm one of the contributors this year (I have a video that will be presented during the last talk on Friday, 21st March titled "Meanwhile … Meanwhile: Lapses in Time and Narrative"). You can see the full schedule here

At the press conference, Shumon Basar, Global Art Forum commissioner, said this which made me laugh and explains why I love the Global Art Forum, “It’s not a conference, it’s not TED 'x,' ‘y’ or ‘z’. It’s not a wedding speech, you won’t see any wedding furniture, although people have been known to fall in love during the Global Art Forum.”

And he also said the following in a recent interview on which sums up why I think the Global Art Forum is unique and special and what makes Art Dubai not your typical art fair. 

In 2012 we effectively 'rebooted' the franchise, to borrow a favourite Hollywood term, which is to say: we decided that the Forum ought to have a greater autonomy than it had up till then. So, we emancipated the content. It no longer deals exclusively with art and indeed is almost libidinally liberated from disquisitions on the art market (which may seem strange, given our fraternal link to Art Dubai, an art fair).

Secondly, we reinvented the form of the forum: it became more like a media production than a conference. We commission artists to make video blips between the sessions; Fatima Al Qadiri composed a soundtrack to inaugurate each forum day last year; there is a publishing initiative called Globe Books; and there have been more musical performances – such an Andre Vida in Doha or Hassan Khan in Dubai in 2013. The forum elects a theme each year – such as media, definitions and now elided history – and builds a sort of temporary university/TV station around it. The stage feels like a chat show rather than an academic conference or awkward Greek wedding. That's very different to what still happens at most art fair programmes (not in any way to demean them. We have yet to attract Kanye West, for example).


Film still from Shezad Dawood's Towards the Possible Film

Art Dubai, Dubai International Film Festival and Sharjah Art Foundation have collaborated to launch Moving Images, a new partnership committed to exploring the shared space between art and cinema. The programme takes contemporary art and film in the Arab world as its focus, and explores mutual territory through discussion programmes and screenings.

Having launched last December at the Dubai International Film Festival, Moving Images continues in March at the Sharjah Art Foundation and Art Dubai, and throughout the year across the UAE.  

Line up of films that will be screened during Art Dubai

Shezad Dawood
Towards the Possible Film
2014, 20’
(Screening all day on 18th, 20th, 22nd March in Madinat Jumeriah Arena) 

Taus Makhacheva
A Space of Celebration
2009, 16’10”
(Screening all day on 18th, 19th, 21st March in Madinat Jumeirah Arena) 

John Akomfrah
The Stuart Hall Project
2013, 103’
(Screening on 22nd March at 8.30pm in Mirage City Cinema, Sharjah)

The Abraaj Group Art Prize 2014

Background by Hrair Sarkissian, one of the Abraaj Group Art Prize 2013 winners

 Founded in 2009, The Abraaj Group Art Prize is the only prize in the Middle East and South Asia that awards artists on the basis of submitted project proposals. The five selected artists work with a guest curator; their completed works are revealed in a special exhibition at Art Dubai.

Winners of The Abraaj Group Art Prize 2014 are Abbas Akhavan, Kamrooz Aram, Bouchra Khalili, Basim Magdy and Anup Mathew Thomas. The 2014 Guest Curator is Nada Raza. 



Around and beyond Art Dubai

A.i.R Dubai

Art Dubai, Delfina Foundation, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and Tashkeel, Artists-in-Residence (A.i.R) Dubai is a residency programme that annually offers five artists and a curator the opportunity to be based in Dubai, in the lead-up to and during March. The three- month residencies culminate in an Open Studios exhibition at Sikka as well as commissioned projects at Art Dubai.

This year’s A.i.R artists are Nadia Ayari, Sunoj D, Sara Al Haddad, Maitha bin Demithan and Maryam Al Qassimi; the curator’s residency was awarded to İpek Ulusoy Akgül.  


Art Dubai’s week-long dedicated radio station features interviews with local and international artists and curators, plus sound projects, disseminated via a live radio web-stream. London-based radio producer and presenter Fari Bradley, of radio station Six Pillars, returns to host the show at the fair.  

The Sheikha Manal Little Artists Program

A set of artist-conceived projects for children aged 3-14, this children’s programme includes workshops, Discovery Tours of the gallery halls, as well as activity and sketch books created and designed by UAE-based artists.

The programme is held under the patronage and guidance of Her Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Women’s Establishment, Wife of HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs UAE. 

Art Dubai Projects

Art Dubai Projects is a not-for-profit programme of new commissions by established and upcoming artists that explores the fabric of the art fair and of its home in the UAE.

Curated in 2014 by Fawz Kabra, the programme invites artists to intervene in all areas of the fair–from its print material to the terraces onsite–and features installation, drawing, painting, performance and sculpture.

Artists selected for Art Dubai Projects 2014 include Nadia Ayari, Youmna Chlala, Clark House Initiative, Sunoj D, Maitha Demithan, Sara Al Haddad, Shuruq Harb, Najat Makki, Amina Menia, Maryam Al Qassimi, Mounira Al Solh and Hajra Waheed. 



Design Days Dubai 2014 

Landscape series 2 by India Mahdavi (2013) | Material: Glazed ceramic with or without pure gold interior coating 

The third  edition of Design Days is back this week from 17th-21st March and will be held in the same venue as the past two years, in The Venue - Downtown Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard (formerly known as Emaar Boulevard, next to Burj Khalifa).  

Design Days Dubai is the leading fair in the Middle East and South Asia dedicated to collectible and limited edition furniture and design objects.

The fair presents design from leading international designers and galleries alongside up and coming design from across the world. The fair also presents a strong non-commercial programme consisting of education, workshops, installations and live performances.



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


Castor & Pollux by Giles Miller Studio in the Capsule Arts Booth


 The first lighting installation by London-based designer Giles Miller Studio - thousands of pixels are arranged in series and 'programmed' in a binary-style orientation to show 3-dimensional shapes within shapes. Hypnotic effect generated using only the simplest of component composition.    



FN Designs/WTD Booth 

Assa by Reyan Hanafi and Bahar Al Bahar



Fabrick Lab

Respired wooden skin from the Climatology series by Elaine NG Yanling | Material: Hardwood, textiles, thermoplastic & pigments


NextLevel Galerie 

Svetko by Philippe Malouin | Material: Brass tubes & connector 


If you are interested in unique designs for your home, then this fair is for you. I leave you with this video showing highlights from last year's edition of Design Days Dubai. 





Event details
Dates and timings: 17th-20th March, 4pm - 10pm | 21st March, 1pm-7pm | Preview - 16th 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


SIKKA Art Fair 2014 


SIKKA Art Fair is back this year from 15th-25th March. This year's edition includes over 50 artists, musicians, performers and artist collectives. Besides the various exhibitions, the 10 days will include film screenings, live entertainment and talks. This year's edition is co-curated by Sheikha Wafa Hasher Al Maktoum, founder and director of FN Designs, and Japanese architect and programme director, Kayoko Iemura who are joined by Yusaka Imamura, the Art Adviser to the fair.

SIKKA continues to support and showcase UAE based artists, but I do wish initiatives like this happen more than once a year as I do think the platform to promote artists based here needs to expand beyond art week every March. 

If you've not been to SIKKA, it is held in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood (formerly known a Bastakiya) and the place is truly livened up during the 10 days of the fair. So if you've never been, I strongly suggest you don't miss this.


And now for a bit of self promotion here. I have work showing in two houses this year:

Deira Polaroids

House 16 - my new Deira Polaroids series, an ongoing series of images taken during my frequent walks and visits to Deira. It’s an ode to Deira, to visually showcase the thriving part of “old” Dubai. The exhibition will be accompanied with an essay titled “Deira Modern, Notes from Dubai” by Todd Reisz, which I featured here three years ago.  



Cassette Tape Project

House 10 - Tashkeel House, my Cassette Tape Project which was first set up last September when it was commissioned by Red Bull Music Academy Base Camp.)



At the time of writing this post, I didn't have information about all the participants, so unfortunately, I cannot share a list of must sees. But the best advice I can give you is to just go, get lost in the area and discover new work along the way. 

Here's a video of highlights from SIKKA 2013 to give you a sense of the fair and its location.  




Fair timings and how to get to SIKKA.





Luma - Art in Film at DUCTAC 


DUCTAC is hosting a new exhibition that I'm very excited about. Luma - Art in Film is a curated selection of art films and films by artists from the 1900s to the present day featuring: Man Ray, Fritz Lang, Hans Richter, Georges MŽlis, Luis Buñuel, Jan Svankmajer, Rouzbeh Rashidi and more.


The films will be playing continuously in the gallery throughout the exhibition’s run, and the programme features groundbreaking work from the likes of Man Ray, Fritz Lang and Hans Richter alongside feature-length films including Iranian film-maker Rouzbeh Rashidi’s 2013 piece 'HSP: There Is No Escape From The Terrors Of The Mind'.

The exhibition will run from 14th-25th March and again from 9th-15th April to complement the Gulf Film Festival which will also take place at DUCTAC.

Here's the full line up of films from this exhibition: 

  • Le Voyage Dans la Lun by Georges Méliès (1902)
    Duration: 11 mins 48 secs

  • Das Kabinett des Doktor Kaligari by Robert Wiene (1919)
    Duration: 1 hr 11 mins 
  • Rhythmus 21 by Hans Richter (1921)
    Duration: 2 mins 10 secs 
  • La Symphonie Diagonale by Hans Richter & Viking Eggeling (1921)
    Duration: 7 mins
  • Le Retour à la Raison by Man Ray (1923)
    Duration: 2 mins 10 secs
  • Entr’acte by René Clair & Francis Picabia (1924)
    Duration: 20 mins
  • Le Ballet Mecanique by Fernand Léger & Dudley Murphy (1924)
    Duration: 14 mins


  • Emak Bakia by Man Ray (1926)
    Duration: 17 mins
  • Filmstudie by Hans Richter (1926)
    Duration: 3 mins 30 secs
  • Vormittagsspuk by Hans Richter (1928)
    Duration: 6 mins 23 secs
  • Un Chien Andalou by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali (1929)
    Duration: 16 mins 25 secs  

  • M by Fritz Lang (1931)
    Duration: 1 hour 50 secs
  • Rembrandt by Alexander Korda (1936)
    Duration: 1 hr 24 mins
  • At Land by Maya Deren (1944)
    Duration: 14 mins 44 secs 
  • Traité de Bave et d'Eternité by Isidore Isou (1951)
    Duration: 1 hr 52 mins 
  • Labirynt by Jan Lenica (1962)
    Duration: 14 mins 14 secs 
  • Daikaiju Gamera by Noriaki Yuasa (1965)
    Duration: 1 hr 18 mins 
  • The Colour of Pomegranates by Sergei Paradjanov (1968)
    Duration: 1 hr 12 mins 

  • 400m IFF by Lutz Mommartz (1969)
    Duration: 13 mins 35 secs 
  • Requiem For Humanity by Marios Lefteriotis (1970)
    Duration: 11 mins 50 secs 
  • Death Of Stalinism In Bohemia by Jan Svankmajer (1990)
    Duration: 2 mins 9 secs 
  • HSP: There Is No Escape From The Terrors Of The Mind by Rouzbeh Rashidi (2013)
    Duration: 2 hrs 



Event details
Date and time:  14th-25th March and 9th-15th April 2014
Time: 10.00am – 10.00pm daily (Fridays 2.00pm– 10.00pm)
Location: The Gallery of Light, DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates Dubai 
Event on Facebook



Exhibition: Turning Point at Tashkeel 


Turning Point is a new exhibition in Tashkeel opening on 12th March 2014. The exhibition will showcase a series of work by artists that is in progress, "shedding light on the practices and processes that may otherwise be confined to the studio, through a selection of works that are at once experimental, perhaps unplanned and accidental, but which reveal a conceptual rigor". 

It is an exhibition that is running alongside The Middle East Emergent Artist Prize, sposnored by Van Cleef & Arpels and Tashkeel in partnership with Design Days Dubai. The winner will be annnnounced on 16th March at the opening of Design Days Dubai.


I am taking part in the exhibition and looking forward to seeing the rest of the work by the other artists. Here's a display of my work, a series of photos I took recently in Al Khazzan Park, which is no longer a park, but an abandoned spot which still has the old water tower, which is one of my favourite landmarks in Dubai. 


I will share a detailed write up about this series and highlights from the exhibition in a separate post. In the meantime, if you are in the neighbourhood, please drop by. 


Exhibition details
Dates: 13 March – 30 April 2014 (Private view 12th March at 7pm) 
Venue: Tashkeel, Nad Al Sheba, Dubai (location map)





Oscars 2014 Highlights 

I enjoyed watching the Oscars awards ceremony the other night, actually, I should say early morning. 

Ellen's role as the host was entertaining, tame, non offensive and a crowd pleaser. Throughout the night, there were some funny moments, some not so funny and some that were just plain cringe (John Travola calling Idina Menzel "Adele Dazeem")*.  I won't even discuss the selfie that broke records. It's been discussed enough.

The actual awards were predictable, the major awards went to Gravity and 12 Years a Slave and I'm glad American Hustle didn't win anything (I enjoyed watching it, but I just thought it was overhyped). You can see the full list of winners here.

But mostly, I was very happy Lupita Nyong'o won Best Supporting Actress for her role in 12 Years a Slave and for saying "No matter where you're from, your dreams are valid." in her acceptance speech. I'm looking forward to what she does next. 


Here's a one minute timelapse video of the Oscars.



And here's a summary under two minutes if you didn't have time to sit through three and a half hours. 





* Make sure you "Travoltify" your name, the best thing that happened post Oscars 2014. 



[image via]



RIP Alain Resnais


Kids reenact Oscars 2014 Best Picture nominees


The Oscars are on tonight or early morning depending on where you are based. I will be watching like I do every year and hoping my favourite films win, and looking out for the best dressed and worst dressed actors.

Whilst I'm waiting, I found this video of kids reenacting scenes from the Best Picture nominess. It's cute and funny. 


The Craig Perry Band at The Fridge


The Craig Perry Band recently won the The Gap Recording Room competition, the prize includes an all expense paid trip including a week of recording at Grouse Lodge residential studios, in Ireland. It's quite an opportunity for a new band, so looking forward to the outcome from the recording session. 

In the meantime, if you are in Dubai, you can see The Craig Perry Band at The Fridge on Monday, 3rd March 2014

Dubai's newest rising star, Craig Perry, performed his first solo gig as part of The Fridge Singer/Songwriter Showcase in June 2013 and has been an unstoppable force ever since.

Chosen as runner-up in the 2013 Rolling Stone ME Street To Stage competition, and having recently released his debut solo EP "Small Steps, Big Shoes", Craig will close The Fridge Concert Series 15th Season backed by a talented group of hand-picked musicians giving a spectacular new scope and depth to his now trademarked brand of heartfelt music.

We invite you to join us as Craig and his band take us through the journey of the evolution of his sound culminating in what is destined to be one of the most memorable closing performances of The Fridge Concert Series yet.



Here are some videos featuring Craig Perry and his band.  




Event details
Date and time: Monday, 3rd March 2014 (doors open at 7.30pm, show starts at 8.00pm) 
Venue: The Fridge, Al Quoz, Dubai (location map)
Phone: +9714 3477793 
Tickets: Dhs 50