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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.


Entries in Hind Mezaina (7)


A.i.R Dubai 2015 (Artists in Residence) - Artist talk on Sunday, 29th March 2015


Art Dubai ended on Saturday, 21st March and since then I've been decompressing from a very hectic but also lots of fun five days at the art fair. 

Six artists in residence (including yours truly) have been working since January to create work to show at the fair. If you didn't make it to Art Dubai or didn't get a chance to see our work, there's an artist talk with fellow artist in residence Rheim Alkadhi and myself on Sunday, 29th March at A4 Space in Alserkal Avenue, 7pm -8.30pm.

We will talk about our work, our residency and the work we did for Art Dubai. If you didn't get to see my work at the fair, you will get a chance to see it at the talk, an audio/video essay titled "It may have been where the tales of Sinbad and Aladdin came from". 


Objects at an Art Fair - one of the four programs of interventions performed by Rheim Alkadhi at Art Dubai. The images below is from "Supplication Activity". Rheim asked passers by to write their deepest desires on the back of a receipt which was then folded and inserted into a metal locket and sealed with scented candle wax from Dubai Mall. The amulets were "accumulated together as a mounting cluster of energy, residues of an art fair". 

Rheim Alkadhi - Objects at an Art Fair (image courtesy of Art Dubai)


It may have been where the tales of Sinbad and Aladdin came from is the name of my audio/video essay about Deira which consists of photos I took during the residency mixed with images of old postcards of Deira. The audio part is a script taken from various resources from the past, the present, a mix of fact, fiction and even press releases. The video is 10 minutes long and was projected on a wooden board. Next to the board was an old TV screen playing found footage/old documentaries of Deira filmed in the 1960s and 1970s. 

© Delphine Garde-Mroueh 



I will report back on my experience of the residency, my work and Art Dubai in general soon. In the meantime, hope you can make it to the talk on Sunday. More about it here:   




A.i.R Dubai 2015 (Artists in Residence)


AiR Dubai is an annual artist residency programme which gives UAE based and international artists/curators the opportunity to be based in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood (formerly known as Al Bastakiya) in Dubai. The programme is run by Art DubaiDubai Culture and Arts Authority, Tashkeel and Delfina Foundation

This year's edition is the fourth one and I'm happy to announce I am one of the arists participating in this residency. It's the first time I join an artist residency, so I'm excited, nervous and happy. 

AiR Dubai 2015 is curated by Lara Khaldi, with Munira Al Sayegh as co-curator. The other artists in the residency include: 

Khorfakkan-based artist Mohammed Ahmed IbrahimSharmeen Syed, whose practice references architectural research; and multi-media artist Jessica Mein. The artists joining them in the residency from abroad are the Amsterdam-based, former Rijksakademie resident Mehraneh Atashi, who works in photography, video and installation and has been recently pre-occupied with the concept of entropy, as well as Beirut-based artist Rheim Alkadhi, who weaves poetic collages from objects, texts, and images. (via Art Dubai)

The residency officially started on 11th January and will end on 8th April. The work produced during the residency will be exhibited at Art Dubai, 18th-21st March 2015. We will also be scheduling some public talks and events, so watch this space. 

Here are some photos from the residency area.  

Around Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood and the residency house (House no. 33)


AiR 2015 Lunch at Arabian Tea House


By the creek 

Unfortunately, most of the Bur Dubai side of the creek is blocked off, but luckily we can still see the water right outside Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood and to the left side of the creek. 



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

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

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

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


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

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


Fatima Al Yousef 


Thierry Bouët


Jack Burlot


Anne-Marie Filaire



Lamya Gargash


Hind Mezaina




Exhibition locations and dates:


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

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


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

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

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



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

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




Slidefest XIII - 14th May 2014

© Richard Allenby-Pratt

The 13th edition of Slidefest organised by Gulf Photo Plus is on this Wednesday, 14th May at 7pm in the Knowledge Village Auditorium

If you've not been to Slidefest before, it's an event organised by Gulf Photo Plus where photographers present their personal projects, from documentary projects to fine art, still-life and landscape images. The event also aims to bring photographers (amateurs and pros) and people from the photography community together where people can network, connect and share stories.

I am happy to say I am one of the presenters this month, I will be sharing some of my Deira Polaroids series. Here's the full line up of photographers:


Richard Allenby-Pratt

© Richard Allenby-Pratt

Richard Allenby-Pratt is a photographer based in Dubai. After gaining attention for his 'Abandoned' project, which was exhibited last year, Richard continues to expand his personal work.

Exploring the developed and undeveloped landscapes of the UAE, Richard will be presenting a series of documentary landscape photographs entitled 'Consumption' and considering how are decisions as consumers impact upon the environment. 



Amani Al Shaali

© Amani Al Shaali

Born in the UAE, Amani Al Shaali studied Interior Design at the American University in Dubai and is now designing yacht interiors for a living.  She developed a passion for photography at the age of 13, and through photography she discovered her love for editing.  

After graduating, Amani began to take photography more seriously, pursuing personal projects and developing her passion for fine art photography. Creating something out of nothing brings an exhilarating feeling that keeps her creating new work.  Recently exhibiting during the DIFC ArtBeat event, Amani will be sharing a series of compositions dipicting characters set in moody landscapes and dramatic circumstances.



Lewis de Mesa 

© Lewis de Mesa

Lewis de Mesa is a co-founder and former member of Brownmonkeys, a design collective based in Dubai. Currently he works freelance at Twofour54 as an art director, animator and a time-lapse photographer. His work has appeared on CNN as well as in Gulf News, The National, and 7 Days.

When he first started pursuing timelapse photography, his aim was to do something different and unique, so he was one of the few who introduced motion time-lapse with the use of a motorized slider. His passion for time-lapse photography continues to motivate him, as not even the hot summer sun in the UAE stops him from shooting outdoors. Lewis will be presenting his time-lapse photography shot here in the UAE.



Esam Hassanyeh 

© Esam Hassanyeh

Esam Hassanyeh is a photographer in Dubai specializing in corporate, sports and portrait photography.  Esam was raised in the UK and has also lived in Paris and Jakarta. Before becoming a professional photographer, Esam worked in the financial markets in London, he then started his own financial training company in Dubai.

In 2008, he bought his first DSLR and found that whilst he enjoyed what he did before, when he has a camera in his hands, he simply enjoys being himself. Esam will be presenting portraits he has shot in Ethiopia. 



Hind Mezaina 

© Hind Mezaina

Hind Mezaina is a photographer and culture writer from Dubai. Her award winning blog covers cultural news, events, reviews in the UAE and beyond. Hind’s photography has been exhibited in several local and international group exhibitions.

Deira Polaroids is a new photo series that Hind has initiated recently. It's an ongoing series of images taken during her frequent walks and visits to Deira, her 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 was exhibited at this year's SIKKA Art Fair in House 16. Hind will be sharing a selection of the Deira Polaroids at Slidefest. 



Guido Sperzaga

© Guido Sperzaga

Guido Sperzaga is a Dubai based professional photographer and also co-founder of The Onlooker, a locally based photography team. Guido's photography aims to dipict the everyday life and culture of people from around the world, discovering hidden stories and capturing the beauty of the multi-ethnic world we live in.

Guido will be presenting a moving series of images from an orphanotrophy in Nepal, where orphaned children recieve medical care and support.



Event details:
Date: Wednesday, 14th May at 7pm. 
Location: Knowledge Village Auditorium, Dubai (location map)
Free entry. 


Exhibition - Encounter: Listening to the City

Encounter: Listening to the City (image courtesy of Maraya Art Centre)

Encounter: Listening to the City
 is a sound and video exhibition running in conjunction with Customs Made: Quotidian Practices and Everyday Rituals. It's in the Maraya Art Park in Sharjah (walking distance from Maraya Art Centre), featuring work by seven artists (including yours truly) curated by Alexandra MacGilp.

It opened last month, on the same day as Customs Made: Quotidian Practices and Everyday Rituals and is on till 12th May 2014. 

The sound and video installations are in shipping containers and various points across the park. It's very refreshing to have an outdoor exhibition in a public space as it allows a wider audience to engage with the artist's work.  

Encounter: Listening to the City looks at how "sound, music and the spoken voice can create spaces of nostalgia, belonging and reflection".

Sounds, like rituals, can become a space where private meets public. The public can weave their individual beliefs into the fabric of the city they inhabit. Present and past meet aurally; a snatch of tune or a once familiar sound can trigger a memory. Using our auditory sense can make us more aware of ourselves, it can feel, intimate, almost covert or solipsistic.

The artists in this exhibition conduct research into belief systems, vernacular and popular culture, observing culture’s propensity towards transmutation. They are interested in elements that can be arranged or eroded by the individual within state-controlled parametres to create moments of joy, community, nostalgia, homesickness, contemplation or peace.


Below is the list of participating artists, and I've included extracts from the exhibition catalogue, which describes each work. The catalogue is co-joined with Customs Made: Quotidian Practices and Everyday Rituals catalogue, so two in one and worth getting. 

This exhibition has to be experienced in person, so block some time in your calendar and go to Sharjah for this. 


Maitha Demithan 

Maitha Demithan - To the Moon (2009) | Scanography 180 x 122 cm | Photo projected on water, image courtesy of Maraya Art Centre

Maitha Demithan - Ajyal (2012 ) | Scanography 90 x 76 cm | Photo projected on water, image courtesy of Maraya Art Centre
Maitha Demithan
has two installations; one has her scanography works (Still Waters, Ajyal and To the Moon) projected onto the fountain on the lagoon in the park everyday at 8pm till 12th May 2014. 

Her second installation is a video.

Maitha Demithan's video Windows documents her family's summer travels in France and Switzerland. Looking out at scenery of greenery and cows the family elect to listen to Bedouin music, such as you would listen to driving to the desert. The longer they are abroad, the louder and more patriotic the music becomes. The Bedouin culture of nomadism now extends overseas but the lush landscape cannot dampen a yearning for home. 


Ala Ebtekar 


Ala Ebtekar's project began life at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco on the occasion of its borrowing  of the Cyrus Cylinder from the British Museum. This 2500-year-old clay cylinder contains the decree of Cyrus the Great, Kind of Persia and it has been interpreted as the first declaration of human rights. 

In an initial series of workshops, young people were asked "If you were king or queen of the universe, what message would you inscribe on a cylinder like Cyrus' that would become your legacy for centuries to come?". The children's answers are poignant. Free of the pragmatism adults develop, they tell us we should treat others as we would like to be treated, feed the hungry and protect the environment. Their responses were worked into a sound composition by Ata Ebtekar (Sote). Its seven movements were recorded onto wax cylinders to be played on an Edison phonograph cylinder, one of the earliest technologies to record sound. 

The culmination of the project is a performance through a multi-channel sound and video installation using the phonograph cylinders within an extended electronic acoustic work. 


Kapwani Kiwanga 

Kapwani Kiwanga - Tongue (2007) | Sound installation, 25 minutes loop

Kapwangi Kiwanga explores how culture mutates through its transmission. In Kiwanga's sound work Tongue, the artist repeats proverbs in Swahili, a language she does not speak, after her Swahili-speaking brother. She stumbles and hesitates over the pronunciation of the unfamiliar words and the proverbs are deformed as they pass from one person to the next.

Unless we speak Swahili, we cannot understand the words the artist attempts to get her tongue around. This inability to gauge the meaning of the words allows us to concentrate on the artist's attempts to emulate her brother. 

Kiwanga invites us to meditate on the transmission of culture through oral traditions as well as the importance of language to culture, and the pitfalls inherent in translation. 

You can listen to a few seconds of this sound piece here.



Hind Mezaina 

Hind Mezaina - An Encounter with the Past (2014) | A visitor enjoying one of the seven video installations, image courtesy of Alexandra MacGilp


For her installation An Encounter with the Past, Hind Mezaina draws on memories of the music she listened to and watched on television during her childhood in the UAE. At that time, watching television was a shared family activity with only a handful of channels to choose from. Mezaina has selected Arab music videos from the 1970s and 1980s, as that was the avenue through which she enjoyed music from the region. Meanwhile, she developed her love of Western music from listening to the radio and buying bootleg cassettes. 

The videos will provoke smiles of recognition and pleasure for those over a certain age, as they offer a moment of intimacy and nostalgia. 

Mezaina's personal selection embraces traditional Khaleeji singers in shiny thobes and majlis settings performing folk songs and pop groups in flares fusing Eastern and Western influences. It offers a cultural snapshot from the beginning of an era of rapid change in the region that has never really slowed down. Television would take on the role of transmitter and preserver of culture as a more settled and sedentary lifestyle evolved. 


Here's one of the seven music videos featured in the exhibition, Al Bariha (Yesterday) by Saqr Al Saleh. 


Joe Namy 

Joe Namy - Beneath Our Feet (2013/2014) | Installation: Container, wallpaper, 1m x 1m touch/sound sensitive dance floor + sound mix (56 mins) | Image courtesy of Maraya Art Centre

Joe Namy - Half Step (2013) | Image from the opening night courtesy of Maraya Art Centre.

Joe Namy - Half Step (2013) | A visitor trying to follow the dance steps | Image courtesy of Alexandra MacGilp

Joe Namy has two installations in this exhibition, Beneath Our Feet and Half Step. Half Step is one of my favourite installations, so I was glad I got to see it again at this exhibition. 

Beneath Our Feet is inspired by a mixtape phenomenon mkataa (مقاطع) that is distinctive to the UAE. Preview tracks on bootleg CDs with photocopied covers are a mash-up sampler of all the songs on the disc, sped up and mixed with sound effects such as cars revving and snippets from popular TV and radio shows. The songs themselves span genres and time periods, from Khaleeji (Gulf) songs to the latest Bollywood hits, via Persian and Egyptian classics. Namy's sound collage is constructed from excerpts of such music purchased. These mixes reveal the cultural fabric of the UAE, with its jumble of cultures and histories and Namy's remixing of these remixes adds a new voice to the conversation. 

The installation consists of a one-person interactive dance floor, covered with an image of clouds. The viewer is invited to step onto the floor and activate the light sequence, or simply observe it from afar as it responds to the music... Although today music is often used as an escape that detaches us from our environment, it is a shared isolation. The mixtape DJ, although separated by distance and time from his listeners, still influences them in a one-on-one relationship. 


In his performance and installation Half Step, Joe Namy brings together two seemingly opposed dance forms; traditional Emirati folk dance and breakdance. Namy juxtaposes the static nature of folk dance, which preserves the memory of what has happened over hundreds of years with breakdance, which is concerned with innovation and improvisation. 

On the opening night last month, there were two groups, the folk dancers and the breakdancers and they simultaneously performed to the live soundtrack of musicians playing a traditional rhythm called Al Harbeya. The floor installation, which framed the live event "consists of vinyl graphic signalling a basic step pattern, known as a two step shuffle, that is found in both dance forms. The performance activates the floor installation where "dance is a time-based medium and the footprints left by the dancers form the memory of the performance". 


Hans Rosenstrom

Hans Rosenstrom - In Dependent Structures (2012/2014) | Text based sound installation for a single viewer | Duration 4’30’’ min | Container, headphones, sensor, lights, light dimmer, DMX controller, Arduino | Image courtesy of Maraya Art Centre

Auditory perception makes us aware of our bodily presence in space and time. Listening to something is an ambiguous event, interpreted according to our individual memories, experience and imagination. In his poetic installations, Hans Rosenstrom constructs narratives within spatial experiences in public and private domains. He creates intimate encounters that can change perception of the moment and the individual occupation of it, questioning the relations between a subjective presence and the surrounding circumstances. 

In Dependent Structures is about presence, a situation where your senses are heightened and eventually through the illusion of another person you become aware of yourself and your body in the moment. 


Deniz Uster 

Deniz Uster narrates myths of an unknown future. For her film Beyond is Before, Uster was inspired by the nomadic history of the UAE and its Bedouin oral culture that she sees as an intangible logbook with many voids left for her to fill imaginatively. 

Beyond Before is set in a post-apocalyptic future in a freezing cold Dubai, with neither water nor oil. The protagonist is a lone Pakistani survivor travellng with his pet kitten. Fortunately, the liquid of a spongy pink plant that grows beneath the desert provides both liquid sustenance fuel and a fish-plant can also be excavated to eat. 

The film will be screened on Thursday, 8th May 2014. 





Here's map of where you can find each installation in the park (click on the map to see the see enlarged version or you can see the larger version here). 



You can walk to the park from Maraya Art Centre (around 15 minutes), or you can ask for a complimentary ride on one of the gallery's buggy. It's a fun and scenic ride. 




Exhibition details
Date: On till 12th May 2014 
Venue: Maraya Art Park, Al Majaz Waterfront, Sharjah  (location map)
Free entry.    






Women on the Verge at The Empty Quarter


I have some good news to share with you. I've been so busy the past few days, so I've not had a chance to post this earlier. Yours truly is going to be in a group show at The Empty Quarter called Women on the Verge which opens tomorrow, Monday, 19th March and you are all invited.

The Empty Quarter is one of my favourite photography galleries and my favourite gallery in Dubai, and the show is curated by one of my favourite people in the world of photograpy, Hester Keijser, aka the acclaimed Mrs Deane. The exhibition includes a group of well respected photographers and artists, so I feel very honored and proud to be part of this show which includes:


Fourteen sharp, courageous, talented, passionate and inspirational women photographers from the Middle East take center stage in Women on the Verge, an expansive group show held concurrent with Art Dubai and Art Week.


Here's a small selection of photos from the exhibition which includes an interesting mix of topics. If you are in the neighbourhood tomorrow, please drop by and say hello. Boushra Almutawakel, Laura Boushnak, Leila Alaoui and I will be there. The exhibition will run till 30th April 2012.

© Boushra Almutawakel - Fulla (The Look II)


© Dalia Khamissy - 17,000 Missing: A Nation in Denial


© Eman Mohammed - Mohammed Khader feeds pigeons in front of the remains of his house, which was destroyed during Israel's 22-day offensive that ended in January, in Jabaliya, northern Gaza Strip, 16 March 2009.


© Hind Mezaina - Desert Dunes 2


© Larissa Sansour


© Laura Boushnak - Cluster Bomb Survivor


© Laura El-Tantawy - In the Shadow of the Pyramids


© Leila Alaoui - The Moroccans - Souk of Boumia (MIddle Atlas)


© Myriam Abdelaziz - Men Dreaming - Hamad irons shirts...and dreams of becoming a famous writer


© Newsha Tavakolian - Listen - Singing woman 

© Rania Matar - A girl and her room - Alia 

 © Tanya Habjouqa - Women of Gaza - Mini Vacation


© Tanya Traboulsi - Untitled Tracks - Malikah


© Waheeda Malullah - Colored Photograph no. 14



Exhibition details:
Dates: Opening 19th March, 6-10pm. The exhibition will run till 30th April.
Venue: The Empty Quarter, Gate Village, Bldg 2, DIFC Dubai, UAE 
Phone: +971 4 323 1210


Artist Talk - The S*uce Bench Project

The Dubai Bench by Hind Mezaina

A short while ago, I wrote about The Dubai Benches project initiated by S*uce and I'm glad to say the project is alive and kicking and there are some great looking benches around town.

You are invited to attend a talk with some of the artists (including yours truly) who will share their experiences, explain the concepts behind their designs and to answer any questions. I know it's short notice, but if you are in the neighbourhood, please drop by.

Even details
Date and time: 6th April at 7pm
Venue: The Pavilion Downtown Dubai (location map)
Free entry


My bench, the one added above is called The Dubai bench. Here are some more benches, by the artists that will be at the talk. Hope to see you at the talk.

Bench by Khalid Shafar.

In my interpretation, I strived to achieve the equation of ‘3 equals 9’.  I wanted this 3-seater bench to share its moments with more than 3, with a simple move or flip.

This bench can welcome 9 people at a time and is multifunctional. You can lay down to read and take a nap if placed in a park or you can table dine if placed in a mall or  on the beach. A touch of Gold  was added to reflect Dubai ‘The City of Gold’ and to enhance the aesthetic look of the bench with a metallic finish and contemporary twist.



Bench by Fathima Mohiuddin.

I’ve covered this bench
In the marks I use to make things mine
It’s a sort of shadow, in negative

Bench by Maria Dowlatshahi

My bench was inspired by the Peacock, which throughout history has been associated with so much symbolism: protection, guidance, integrity, and beauty to list just a few.

On the bench I have written, “Welcome back to my bench” which to me really is a means of welcoming myself back to myself,  by just sitting and  enjoying the moment.


Bench by Xische.

We decided to involve the crowd in this effort to raise awareness for benches as, in the end, the benches are for the crowds. Hence, the crowd-sourcing initiative. The various colours of paint we used were to represent the many voices that joined in, and to highlight that the bench belongs to the people. This way, the people belong to the bench too, forever immortalised on its surface. Awareness of the campaign spread like wild fire in the few days that it was live which was great for all involved.



Images courtesy S*uce and The Pavilion.