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.  



How to Make Vietnamese Coffee (2:47)
Stumptown (8:41)  
Yoshi's Blend (8:06)


I Surf Because (3:35) 
Surfing - Ancient-Style Surfboards in Peru (4:04)
Out of Bounds (5:43)
Surfing in the Arctic Circle (8:00)

In South America (5:32)
Discover Barcelona on a Classic Sidecar Motorcycle (2.39) 
London Bus Tour (4:15) 
A Bicycle Trip Around Iceland (3:31) 
Islander (4:05) 
Shooting Morocco (3:49)
Yalla Bicicletta (2:37)
Doha \ As. You. See. It. (2:08) 
For Hire! – Bangalore Rickshaw (4:06) 
A Journey Through Vietnam (5:05) 
Ten Days in Thailand (2:20) 
Tokyo Slo-Mode (2:49) 
Costa Rica: Get Living (3:33) 
The City of Samba (5:47)

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).