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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.


Larissa Sansour - Science Faction at Lawrie Shabibi


Science Faction by Larissa Sansour is a new exhibition that will open on Monday, 9th September at Lawrie Shabibi.

When I first read about her Nation Estate project where Sansour proposed a Palestinian state "in the form of a skyscraper, with each floor accommodating a Palestinian city", I fell in love with the idea and I only got to see some of the photos. Looking forward to seeing the whole series.

I'm not a fan of overtly photoshopped photographs, but I do love the idea behind each photo.


Originally developed for the Lacoste Elysée Prize 2011, Nation Estate became the subject of a censorship controversy when the project was deemed too “pro-Palestinian” and Sansour’s nomination for the prize was revoked – generating media storm culminating in the cancellation of the prize. Despite the setback, Sansour was soon able to galvanise support and eventually complete the project.


Lawrie Shabibi is proud to be showing the full series, which features a high-production 9-minute sci-fi short film and set of seven photographic works. Alongside Nation Estate, Science Faction will also feature works from A Space Exodus, an earlier series by Sansour leading the way for the Nation Estate project.


In both Nation Estate and A Space Exodus Sansour appropriates pop cultural forms – science fiction and futurism – to approximate the reality and complexity of life in Palestine and explore a playfully dystopian solution for a Palestinian state.



In Nation Estate, Sansour proposes a Palestinian state in the form of a skyscraper, with each floor accommodating a Palestinian city.  The female lead, played by Sansour herself, travels upwards in an elevator from one city to the other passing by iconic symbols and landmarks that recreate a sense of history and belonging.



In A Space Exodus (an adaptation of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1986)) Sansour offers a naively hopeful and optimistic vision for a Palestinian future in outer space. Projecting herself onto the moon as a Palestinian astronaut, we see Sansour heroically planting the Palestinian flag on the lunar surface.



Depicting fantastical scenarios inspired by facts on the ground, Sansour hints at the current political stalemate and sense of futility that surrounds the Palestinian predicament. Borrowing heavily from the language of film and pop culture, Sansour’s use of new media masks her cynicism in a humorous manner, offering different interpretations of the current socio-political situation. The result is an unconventional Palestinian narrative that succeeds in being both humorous and tragic.




Event details
Date: Opening reception on Monday, 9 September, 2013 from 7.00-9.00pm. The exhibition will go on till 12th November 2013.
Venue: Lawrie Shabibi, Unit 21, Al-Serkal Avenue, Al Quoz, Dubai (location map)
Phone: +9714 346 9906 





Cassette Store Day 2013

The 7th of September has been declared Cassette Store Day. Doubt any stores in Dubai will participate, but if you live in a city that's taking part, go check it out.

Music sounds great on cassette I have a big collection of original albums on cassette from artists like Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Byrds, MC5 & Suicide. I also have great compilation tapes I made to play on Primal Scream tours. Cassette is a cool medium to listen to music on. Warm and fat. Good bottom end. Yeah! X"
Bobby Gillespie 2013


List of stores taking part in the UK, Europe, North and South America.
List of events.


For more cassette love, check out this short film, The Magnetist I posted last month.


Bad House Party

Bad House Party
is a new monthly indie and punk night that will launch on Friday, 13th September at Casa Latina (Ibis Hotel, Barsha, Dubai). The night is run and promoted by Zaina Shreidi, Jane Aldersley, Mike Priest, and Adam Carr and supported by quint magazine and Deep Crates Cartel.

Here's a list of bands/singers you can expect to hear on the night, taken from their Facebook event page:

Expect to Hear:
Pixies / Goat / The Clash / Brendan Kelly & The Wandering Birds / Unknown Mortal Orchestra / CHVRCHES / Grimes / Fugazi / Girls / The Black Angels / The Horrors / Astronautalis / Bouncing Souls / Foals / The Smiths / Frank Turner / Yuck / Wolfmother / The XX / Fol Chen / Pantha Du Prince & The Bell Laboratory / Caribou / The Lawrence Arms / The Shins / Jimmy Eat World / Weird Dreams / The Vaccines / Strike Anywhere / Biffy Clyro / No Use For a Name / Two Door Cinema Club / Temples / Tame Impala / The Cure / Sonic Youth / The Preatures / Takeshi Terauchi & The Blue Jeans / Radio Moscow / The Black Keys / The Growlers / Grizzly Bear / Mikhael Paskalev / The Smith Street Band / Saves The Day / the 1975 / Wolf Alice / John Talabot / Arcade Fire / Broken Social Scene / Crocodiles / of Montreal / Neils Children / Pennywise / Crazy Arm / Cage The Elephant / Bow Wow Wow / Daughn Gibson / The Breeders / The Go! Team / Modest Mouse / Against Me! / Apologies I Have None / Weezer / Moon Duo / Melody's Echo Chamber / Los Mirlos / Violent Femmes / Band of Horses / Mikal Cronin / Good Riddance / Idlewild / The Get Up Kids / Radiohead / Cut Off Your Hands / Eagles of Death Metal / Civil Civic / The Knife / The Ramones / Future Of The Left / The Gaslight Anthem / Hot Water Music / Lazy Bones / La Femme / Hanni El Khatib / Alkaline Trio / The King Blues / Wavves / Splashh / Cat's Eyes / Jimi Hendrix / Rancid / Great Cynics / The Postal Service / Glocca Morra / Teenage Bottlerocket / Funeral Suits / Clinic / Best Coast / Savages / Friendly Fires / Screaming Females / Black Rebel Motorcycle Club / Dum Dum Girls / Minus The Bear / NOFX / Front Bottoms / Bloc Party / Yeah Yeah Yeahs


Glad to see this new addition to the night scene in Dubai and hope it will be a punkin' raving success.

I asked Zaina Shreidi to send me a list of songs that represent Bad House Party, and here are the top three.


SPLASHH - Vacation

Temples - Prisms 

Wavves - Demon To Lean On




Event details
Date: Friday, 13th September from 10.00pm till 3.00am
Venue: Casa Latina, Ibis Hotel in Barsha, Dubai (location map).
Free entry.
Event on Facebook.

(Other dates for Bad House Party over the next few months, 18th October and 22nd November.)


Rawiya | She Who Tells a Story at Gulf Photo Plus 

© Tanya Habjouqa

Rawiya is a female photography collective from the Middle East founded by Myriam Abdelaziz, Tamara Abdul Hadi, Laura Boushnak and Tanya Habjouqa. Their latest exhibition, "She Who Tells a Story" (the English translation for Rawiya) will showcase their recent work at Gulf Photo Plus. The exhibition will open on Monday, 9th September till Wednesday, 16th October.

While clearly shaped by and within the context of larger social and political realties, these are not photographs documenting catastrophe or violence, but instead simple, universally human moments.  In presenting these works together in conversation, the exhibition expands the monolithic narrative of the region by collapsing it down to the minute and mutable possibilities of the everyday.

In addition to the exhibition, there there will be a talk led by Rawiya members Laura Boushnak and Tamara Abdul Hadi on Tuesday, 10th September at 7pm. They will offer further insight to the photographs within the exhibition as well as additional projects by the Rawiya members. The talk is free to attend, but registration is required.  


Below are some photos from the exhibition with background information about each series. If you are in Dubai, don't miss this.

Tanya Habjouqa -  Occupied Pleasures

The scenes captured in Tanya Habjouqa’s 'Occupied Pleasures' – families on picnics, children swimming, young girls preparing for a party, women practicing yoga or attending a wedding – are both hauntingly fleeting and decidedly commonplace.  The juxtaposition is a common one for Palestinians, whose daily existence often includes the intersection of the bizarre and the banal. The series reveals quirky and lighthearted moments of respite for Palestinians coping with limited freedom of movement within a society most often seen through the lens of hard news.

© Tanya Habjouqa

Laura Boushnak - I Read I Write: Yemen - Access to Education

Laura Boushnak presents a selection from the series 'I Read I Write: Yemen - Access to Education', the continuation of an ongoing project documenting women and education across the Arab world. Her subjects are all women – the first members in their families to pursue higher education – depicted both facing the camera with a warm, direct gaze and taking part in a tableau of daily scenes. The images are inscribed with the women’s handwritten text that reflects Boushnak’s conversations with the students about their achievements and aspirations, as well as the challenges they face in an ultraconservative society, where the prevailing role for women is limited to marriage and the home.

© Laura Boushnak

© Laura Boushnak



Tamara Abdul Hadi - Ramallah, 2011

Moving beyond questions of how those living in marginalized communities are seen by others, 'Ramallah, 2011' by Tamara Abdul Hadi is itself an interactive exercise, in which the individuals being photographed have the ability to control their own image and decide how to represent themselves.  Handing control to her subjects – children, women, older men, and teenagers – Abdul Hadi invites those living in Ramallah to take their own portraits. The resulting images challenge static notions of documentation, and leave viewers face to face with individuals, unobstructed by another’s perspective.

© Tamara Abdul Hadi

© Tamara Abdul Hadi


Myriam Abdelaziz - Cairo Dances 

Reflecting divergent, yet in the end parallel stories of women pursuing their dreams within the constraints of a social context, Myriam Abdelaziz’s series 'Cairo Dances' offers an intimate portrait of Egyptian belly dancers.  Striking enticing poses in ornate, if slightly faded, costumes against a simple studio background, the women have a monumental, almost memorialized quality to them.  The series is an effort, Abdelaziz explains, to document an endangered species, as a combination of economic and socio-religious factors lead fewer Egyptian women to continue the tradition so historically strongly associated with the country.

© Myriam Abdelaziz© Myriam Abdelaziz




















Event details
Opening on Monday 9th September, 7.00-10.00pm. Exhibition will run till 16th October 2013.
Artist Talk on Tuesday 10th September at 7.00pm. Register here.
Venue: Gulf Photo Plus, Alserkal Avenue, Unit D36, Street 8, Al Quoz 1, Dubai (location map)
Free entry.



Film Screening - Tomboy


Alliance Francaise in Dubai will be hosting a screening of Tomboy on Monday, 2nd September at 8pm. The move is in French with English subtitles.


From writer-director Celine Sciamma (Water Lilies), Tomboy tells the story of 10-year-old Laure (played by the amazing Zoe Heran) who moves to the suburbs and decides to pass as a boy amongst the pack of neighborhood kids. As “Mikael” she catches the attention of leader of the pack Lisa, who becomes smitten with her. At home with her parents and younger sister Jeanne, she is Laure; while hanging out with her new pals and girlfriend, she is Mikael. Finding resourceful ways to hide her true self, Laure takes advantage of her new identity, as if the end of the summer would never reveal her unsettling secret.

Writer-director Céline Sciamma brings a light and charming touch to this contemporary coming-of-age story which deftly explores relationships between children and their peers; between children and their parents; and the even more complicated relationship between one’s heart and one’s body.




Event details
Date: Monday, 2nd September at 8.00pm
Venue: Alliance Française, Oud Metha, Dubai (location map)
Free entry.


Review - Art Dubai 2013


Here's my overdue review of Art Dubai which took place on 20th-23rd March 2013. It was a packed event, from parties, talks, screenings, celebrity spotting, finding the good, the bad, the ugly in the art scene, and playing Art Bingo with my friends (expect a seperate post about Art Bingo in the near future).

Here's a selection of photos and Vine clips I took during the fair.

Window 2011-2013 by Mohammed Kazem
This is the first piece of work I saw when I entered Art Dubai. There were over 100 drawings on the wall. This Vine clip is a very small snapshot of what I saw.    


Window 2011 - 2013 includes over one hundred ethereal drawings, created over the past few years and up until Art Dubai itself; each drawing hones in on a particular detail of the city and its development. Fascinated by the archiving of seemingly unimportant objects, Kazem uses various tools such as GPS as a tool for drawing, mapping, and recording. These strategies evoke multiple narratives and dimensions of meaning.



Between the motion/ And the act/ Falls the Shadow by Farideh Lashai
I was mesmerised by this video installation. I kept revisiting it during the fair.

Between the motion/ And the act/ Falls the Shadow is a video installation comprising a series of epigrammatic film shots describing popular vernacular culture of cafes. These images symbolize a nightlife ubiquitous in the Iran of the 1950-1970s and create an environment wherein the viewer assimilates with the cafe audience in the manner of a virtual cabaret. Images are culled from ‘Film Farsi’ commercial cinema of the period.





Head Series (No. 6) by Taiye Idahor


Lagos Market by Ndidi Dike



Yto Barrada


Ziad Antar




Last Meal on Death Row Gary Gilmore, 2012 by Matt Collishaw


The Hatch


Henry Sagna


Camille Zakharia


 Didn't get the name of the artist, but love the discoball image.


Witness by Hajra Waheed


Karo Akpokiere


Didn't get the name of the artist, but quite like these drawings.


Hayv Kahraman


Auto-erotic Asphyxiation by Mehreen Murtaza


Dicko Harandane

Directions (Triangle) by
Mohammed Kazem


Fred Eerdekens
I think there is a comma missing after "Sorry".


Akraam Zaatari - Scratched Woman, Studio Shehrazade, Saida, Lebanon, 1957, Hashem el Madani, 2012

"These were negatives that were scratched because of a jealous husband, who never let his wife out by herself. He was upset to know that she came to be photographed in my studio without telling him. He came asking for the negatives. I refused to give them to him, because they were on 35mm roll. In the end we agreed that I would scratch the negatives of his wife with a pin, and I did it in front of him. I took a pin and started scratching the negative until I realised that I had scratched the wrong portrait."
Hashem el Madani


Kehinde Wiley


Yi Hwan Kwon
These 3 dimensional pieces were amazing to see in person.




Some oddities
Here are some odd artwork from this year's fair. There was a pair of shoes on the wall.


Then we had this hideous looking thing. I wonder if anyone bought it.

Plus, there was an animal theme, just like I saw at Design Days Dubai.



Global Art Forum_7

My favourite event at last year's Art Dubai was the Global Art Forum
, so I was looking forward to this year's edition. In last year's post I said the Global Art Forum was referred to
"as the brain of the art fair...I'd add that it's also the heart."

Sadly, I didn't enjoy this year's Global Art Forum as much as I did last year. I was intrigued with this year's theme, "It Means This" which was directed by Istanbul based writer/editor HG Masters, and commissioned by writer/curator Shumon Basar.

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

But after attending most of the talks, it left me cold and didn't capture me as much as I would've like it to. I think there was a small level of smugness amongst some of the presenters and speakers which didn't make the talks as engaging as last year. The only talk that stood out for me which I really liked was:

Place (Ramallah) featuring Shumon basar (host), Mourid Barghouti, Shuruq Harb, Guy Mannes-Abbott.

Dream, memory, or reality? What unique perspectives can the visitor, the exile/expatriate and the local resident each offer on what means to encounter, belong, or lament somewhere? What is the best way to traverse it? By running? By leaving? Can you capture it in words and images? What is the 'Ramallah Syndrome'? What sound does it make? What do you remember?


I also found the discussion titled Middle East Nervous Anxiety (MENA) featuring Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Slavs & Tatars, Uzma Z. Rizvi and Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi interesting.

The most hyped discussion with former REM lead singer and now artist Michael Stipe about "Careering" that included artist and novelist Douglas Coupland, co-director of the Serpentine GalleryHans-Ulrich and Shumon Basar was amusing, but wasn't the enlightening experience we were expecting. You can watch the full talk here.



Transfiguration by Joe Namy
Joe Namy works with sampled sounds, documentary/music videos and photography, to investigate aspects of identity, memory, power and currents encoded in music. As one of the Artists in Residence, he spent part of his three-month residency in Dubai researching traditional song and dance, once used for ritual healing, and unique to the UAE.

When I read the following in the programme, I was quite excited to see the performance.

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.

Here are some clips from the night. A mix of modern street dancing and traditional folklore dancing from the region. Wish we could see performances like this more often.



Art Dubai Parties
There were parties by the beach every night during Art Dubai and I was invited to DJ on the second last night. It was the first time I ever "deejayed" - added in quotation marks because I just turned up with my laptop and played music from a playlist I prepared for the night.

I need to learn some basic DJ skills, but I really enjoyed the feeling of being in charge of music and want to do it again. Anyone out there want to hire me to DJ any cool events?


I leave you with one of the songs I played called "Feed Me Diamonds". Big thanks to Natasha Carella from Art Dubai for offering me my first ever DJ gig (and Natasha, if you are reading this, I have not forgotten to make you a copy of the playlist from the night.)





So there you have it, my highlights and thoughts from this year's Art Dubai. There's a lot more I wish I could share, but I'd end up with a much, much longer post. If you are still here, thanks for reading all the way till the end.


Review - Design Days Dubai 2013

Always/Never by United Visual Artists, 2012

Here's the third of my long overdue reviews of the art events that happened in March. This one is about Design Days Dubai which took place on 18th-21st March 2013.

There were some beautiful and not so beautiful objects. Here's a collection of my photos and Vine clips from the opening night.

Continual Slow Drip by Antony Hall


The Analogia Project by Andrea Mancuso and Emilia Serra
This was my favourite piece at Design Days Dubai, a delicate and beautiful display that looks like a large sketch hanging midair.

Analogia explores the materialisation of the imaginary, in its transient state of flux. A drawing in the air that traces the fine line between abstract thought and concrete reality.



Khalid Shafar and Tai Ping Carpets collaboration
Inspired by the traditional Emirati craft Talli, designer Khalid Shafar's collection for Tai Ping made its debut at Design Days Dubai. The design of the carpets are based on the embroidery found on the cuffs and collars of traditional women's clothing in the UAE. I liked seeing the new approach to Talli, but thought it wasn't necessary to have what I call 'faux heritage' element to the display by hiring an 'old woman' to sit and weave like it's a performance.



Shredded by Jens Praet
I wasn't sure what was happening in this space, but there was a lot of shredded material.

Clock Clock - Victor Hunt

The Clock clock re-contextualizes time in a mix of old and new, analogue and digital. The clock is made of 24 two-handed analogue clocks. Six clocks make up a number, each of them displaying either one of its corners or one of its sides. All 24 clocks create one giant display similar to that of a digital watch. This work is notable for its digital/analogue format and the choreography that takes place between the minutes.

You Fade to Light - Random International
This was a fun piece at Design Days Dubai. You Fade to Light is an interactive light installation. My friend Austyn and I goofed around with this piece and had a good laugh. Check out my Vine clip below.

Initially appearing to take the form of a looking-glass grid, ‘You Fade To Light’ mirrors the viewer incongruously in light. The installation encourages the onlooker to engage in a kinetic dialogue, physically communicating with both the work itself and their own abstracted image.


Other interesting objects




I noticed an animal theme at the fair.





I leave you with one more funny Vine of You Fade to Light featuring my friend Austyn.


Review - The Culturist at House 9 


Here's the second of several long overdue reviews of the art events that happened in March. This one is a follow up to the SIKKA 2013 review, focusing on my project that was part of SIKKA this year.

To recap, I was commissioned to put together a project related to this blog for SIKKA. I had a house that became an extension of the blog - a physical presence of the blog for one week.

I was allocated House 9, so I called it The Culturist at House 9. It covered major themes from the blog such as films, music, travel, photography and the 1980s in three different rooms: Screen | Travel | Reminisce

It was one of the most rewarding experiences I ever had. Although I first had some misgivings about the house I was allocated because of its location (wasn't central enough and close to a mosque, so I was worried the music playing in the house would disturb the mosque), I grew to love it. The house attracted enough people and I didn't face any issues with sounds coming out of the house. My eyes filled with tears on the last day when I said goodbye to the house.

Whilst setting up, I was faced with my fair share of stress level and without the help of my friends and support from the SIKKA team, I wouldn't have been able to pull it off. A special shout out and thank you goes to my friend Eliot who spent many hours helping me with the technical set up, and assuring me everything will work out whenever doubt set in. I owe him so much for this.

I met some lovely people that visited the house and so many had very kind words about the blog. I was thrilled to meet some of my readers and new people that weren't aware of the blog but enjoyed the space.

On the last day, I threw my first "Blog Party", it was the last chance to spend time in the house before I sadly packed away and said goodbye to it.


Here are some photos from that week. A big thank to everyone that visited and revisited the house and hope we can all do it again soon.


The view of the windtower from inside the courtyard


Room 1 - Screening
For this room, I put together three hours worth of short clips, of which some have been featured on this blog. I broke down the video clips into several themes, all relecting topics featured here. Below is the list of themes and videos that were screened, with links to each clip.

My heart was filled with joy whenever I saw people in the room watching these clips and I was ecstatic when I saw repeat visitors.  


School Portrait (3:14)
Underwater Project (4:15)
How to shoot film D-I-Why Not (3:50)
Jeff Harris: 4748 Self-Portraits and counting (5:26)
Kai Müller: Combining The Spirit of Photography With Music (4:24)
Silver and Light (9:19)

Youth Divers (2:24)
Pong (3:20)
Aquadettes (9:59)
Danny & Annie (5:52)
Eyes on the Stars (3:17)
This is my home (6:49)
Upside Down, Left To Right: A Letterpress Film (7:41)
Epilogue: The Future of Print (24:11)

Room 2 - Travel

This room consisted of ephemera from my travels, like exhibition flyers, ticket stubs, posters and postcards. It brought back some good memories and some visitors recognised some of the objects on the wall and said it reminded them of their trips to the same places.


Room 3 - Reminisce
This room had more ephemera, but this time, from Dubai. It contained a selection of posters, flyers, ticket stubs from events dating back to 2004. My aim was to show the cultural scene in Dubai has been active for a while and not over the past 3-5 years as many people seem to think.

The room also included old music clips (Khaleeji, Egyptian, Lebanese, European and Bollywood), screening on a wall. The selection was based on music I remember listening to and watched on TV in the late 1970s/early 1980s.

The reaction to this room was great, to both old timers in Dubai and newbies. A lot of reminiscing happened in this room.



I added these fairy lights in the house, to add a special atmosphere at night and think it worked quite well. I always enjoyed spending time in the house in the evenings, it was so peaceful.




Blog Party
View from the rooftop overlooking the centre open courtyard of the house on the last night when I threw the Blog Party.




Guest book
Here are some of the comments left in the guest book. I was so moved with all the kind words left in the book.



Last view
This was taken during my last few minutes in the house. There was a full moon in the sky, a gentle breeze and I was overcome with sadness because my week at SIKKA was coming to an end. This blurry photo reflects my blurry view because of my tear filled eyes. 


I leave you with this review of The Culturist at House 9 written by Kevin Jones for the SIKKA Blog. Thank you Kevin for this.

Although she blogs as The Culturist, Hind Mezaina is so well traveled in the world of the archive that she could pass as the Archivist. At Art Dubai in 2012, she presented highlights from the astounding VHS/Betamax collection of Aqeel Al Showab, who had amassed over 10,000 hours of Emirati TV from the 70s to the 90s. Al Showab’s private stash clearly outstripped feeble national efforts to document this early media production. The OCD freak in me reeled in horror as Hind described Al Showab’s dusty, helter-skelter archiving system, but this didn’t prevent me from grooving to a vintage clip of Boney M playing to a funkily-clad UAE studio audience back in the group’s hey-day.

Hind’s blog is a compendium of images, sounds and words that matter. She has the knowledge and aesthetic insight (oh, did I mention sense of humor?) to make her blog a magnet for smart people who don’t like leaving new cultural stones unturned.

Hind claims that House 9 is her blog turned into an offline, real-world experience. Personally, I sense something slightly deeper. She is opening her archive to us, much the way Mohammed Kazem let in the Brusselsprout. The walls are covered in vintage catalogues, movie and music paraphernalia, the printed trophies of off-the-beaten-track trips to far-flung cultural corners. These artifacts are tinged with emotion, while the space itself is warmly involving: it feels more like walking into her room than logging onto her site. Her craftily curated film programming bears the hallmarks of a sleepless old-school film junkie who sees everything, yet has the finesse to whittle it all down to the “best bits” (like Souad Hosni as Zuzu, a mutual favorite).


Review - SIKKA 2013

Here's one of several long overdue reviews of the art events that happened in March. With the new art season in Dubai around the corner, I thought I better share these posts soon.

First up is a review of SIKKA, it's actually more of a photo review of what I saw and caught my attention. This year's edition of SIKKA included 70 UAE-based artists, 14 multidisciplinary initiatives and collectives, unfortunately I didn't have enough time to see everything.

Additionally, I strongly recommend you read the SIKKA 2013 blog written by my friend Kevin Jones with some very interesting, thoughtful and sometimes funny observations.



SIKKA 2013

The entrance of Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood (formally known as Bastakiya). One of my favourite parts of Dubai. And during SIKKA, it was bustling all week and was quite special. It's such a shame this area isn't active throughout the year.



Kiosk by Nadine Nour El Din Ezzat, one of the site specific installations at SIKKA.



Degenerative Disarrangement by Vikram Divecha, another site specific installation at SIKKA.



Sketching Space in Gold by Karee S Dahl



From a photo series titled When You Wake Up by Farah Al Qasimi.



Illustration book by Gilda Jabbari



The Present Absent by Reem Abdulwahid, an installation that recreates the personal setting of her departed father.



I am not a Trichster by Arwa Al Jundi, an installation about Trichotillomania (the compulsion from removing hair from different body parts). The artwork comprises of four lenticular images of faces alternating from with to without make up. After a long struggle with the disorder, the artist hopes to inform people about it and reveal its darker side.
















 Lightweight by Saba Qizilbash



Point Counter Point by Siddharth Siva and Jamal Iqbal. I love the open court inside this house.



Drawdeck's house at SIKKA. Drawdeck is an online platform which enables creative drawings to be shared, critiqued and discovered.



Light installation inside XVA



 Painting by Fatma Lootah



Artists in Residence (AiR) 2013
Ammar al Attar
's photographs and videos of water coolers that give an insight into a rather unknown practice in the UAE that subtly references a distinctive form of wealth distribution.


Artists in Residence (AiR) 2013
Reem Falaknaz
 took advantage of her residency to develop the first stage of an ongoing project dealing with social issues and the notion of value, while questioning how personal narratives exist within the ever-changing urban environment of Dubai.



The Archive of Mohammed Kazem by Brusselssprout + Rania Jishi
I was amazed by the amount of articles found and collected for this display. An important statement about the history of the art scene in Dubai and the UAE. Read more about this project here, on Art Dubai's blog.




tasmena is one of my favourite organisations in Dubai. It aims to develop place-specific design solutions for sustainable urban living challenging the understanding of public space and the current state of urbanism, and create an impact on contemporary design, research, education and policy making.

tasmena organise city walks and promote critical, cross-cultural dialogues and collaborative engagements of local and global community. For SIKKA tasmena guided visitors on an educational walk around Al Khor (the creek) and collectied memorable objects that were exhibited in the tasmena collection of House 16.



Design House by Mobius Design Studio
House 53 was overtaken by the design collective Mobius where they ran workshops, talks, exhibited work and threw a fabulous feast on the rooftop on the closing night. Read this interview with Hadeyeh Badri, one of the Mobius founders in Artvehicle to learn more about this project.



Emirati bakery Klayya set up shop at SIKKA for the week and served the most delicious variety of breads and tea. I was there everytime I was at SIKKA, sometimes visting them multiple times in the evening.



Night time at SIKKA was very special. It was so lovely walking around, following the sound of spoken word or music. It was magical.



The Animation Chamber was one of the most popular houses at SIKKA. Not only did they host a variety of fun workshops, they always had a mini jam session outside their house at night. It was fun.



SIKKA Photo Booth Project
I never had a chance to talk to the people behind this project, and didn't go inside to try out the booth (mainly because deep down I was disappointed it wasn't an analogue photo booth - sorry SIKKA Photo Booth Project). But a video about it was released after SIKKA ended and looks like it was fun. Hopefully they return next year.



I was commissioned to build a Photo Booth in the heritage area of Dubai and to create a video about it. Visitors were free to engage with the booth and choose their photo style and their poses. This is a video of their contribution to this art installation. Being a collaborative project, this video is free to download and share by all.

The Sikka Photo Booth Project 2013 is commissioned and produced by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, for the third edition of Sikka Art Fair (SIKKA 2013).

Photo Booth software is the INCREDIBOOTH App by HIPSTAMATIC

Original bass and saxophone by Charles Mingus
Music, Sound Design and Composition by Swerte
Concept and Edit by Camille


Making the leap and new beginnings


After spending a significant part of my life working in the corporate world, I decided it was time for me to make the leap and leave that world behind, to focus full time on my creative side.

Today was my last day at work and I am now looking forward to spending time doing things I want to do (and things I've never had time to do).

I plan to spend time developing this blog, work on interesting projects and focus on my photography which took a back seat the past couple of years.

Hope you will join me on my new journey.
Here's to new beginnings.

My theme song today, Breakout by Swing Out Sister:





[image via]