Sunday, 13 May 2012

"The Speaker's Progress" play by al Bassam in Kuwait

Slaiman al Bassam strikes again with a new version of a Shakespearian tale in a modern arab setting. In al Shamiyah theatre in Kuwait, the play has been delivered for 4 days. The plot is a complex remake of a 1963 movie in a hypothetical repressive regime. The main subject is about the lack of expression at all levels in such repression; the theatre and the acting business are the first to suffer from a regimented form of what is really permitted.

Al Bassam, a Kuwaiti director, started this production last year at the brink of the "Arab spring" when Tunisia, Egypt and others had started their public revolts and were undergoing a major transformation. At that time, the wind of freedom was too sweet, too strong and it was difficult to see any returning back to a repressive mode. The play was read and seen as part of history that we needed to remind ourselves could exist.

A year later, al Bassam and his team continues the presentation with as much conviction and passion. Costumes are all thought off with details. Sound is as crisp and relevant. Yet the spectator cannot but pause and reflect.

In a local newspaper "al Qabass", an article was written on friday 11th of may 2012 to comment on the play: nothing concerning acting, drama, plot, setting. The only subject that mattered was how the "National Council for Culture and Arts" was divided into two groups : the commission for censorship on theatre was not satisfied with the play while the administration for the National council reassured of the play's validity.

The irony lies here: the lady in charge was confirming that the play is against the law on plays and theatre since the director did not take note of any changes demanded of him from the censorship commission.
As if the "Speaker's Progress" was continuing in real life, and needed to be documented in the papers.
Same words used here and there: the law, the interference of minders, the officials, the devious and un-compliant director, the responsibility of presenting a play that is not in full accordance with the law or the understanding of the commission

Bravo for al Bassam and his team on giving a true sense of reality. Great work, fantastic performance, and the plot goes on : freedom is fragile in the swirls of a repressive hurricane.

Friday, 11 May 2012

The noise of Cairo - documentary

Cairo seems to be buoyant on expression as this trailer for a documentary shows. Freedom and art, repression and art, revolution and culture, education and propaganda, censorship and liberation expression no matter what: these are issues the arab world is exploring. Cairo has always been a epicenter in the Arab noise and the shaping in the arab identity.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

"Out of Britain" Ghada Alkandery in a teaser preview

The video was done by Mazaj Entertainement in Kuwait in the hands of talended Nawaf Alali and his team. Of course the star, Ghada Alkandery, fills the role as herself the artist, the absorbed interpreter of what she sees.
A good production, the teaser gives a hint of a september 2012 exhibition by the British Council in collaboration with CAP in Kuwait.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Jean Claude Novaro in Kuwait

In April 2012, Dar al Funoon in Kuwait exhibited works by Jean Claude Novaro, a master glassblower.
He currently has an atelier in al Ain, (UAE) but has worked for years out of Biot, south of France. He started his career at the age of 14 and has blown glass since then. 
To the question: how long does it take to blow a glass piece; he answers :"Blowing glass has to be done at very high pace, heat being the transforming element. But how long has it taken me to master the different techniques, to add to it colors, to add to it all the inclusions, a lifelong journey!"
Each piece was dancing in a static version. Color in its vivid form was suspended in the clarity of transparency. Light was embraced by the object. 
Novaro blew his breath in each composition and the life force is captured in the fragility of glass.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Timbuktu, world heritage, under attack by rebels

© Unesco

Rebels, extremists, fighters, radicals, separatists all fight for a cause and use violence and destruction to achieve their objectives.
In Timbuktu, Mali, on the 6th of May 2012, some fighters entered the medieval town and "destroy a saint's tomb" setting it on fire, (according to a BBC report: link)
Timbuktu is the location of three great mosques dating back to the 14th century as well as 16 cemeteries ans mausoleums. The town was founded on gold and salt trade and reached its apogee in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was an intellectual and spiritual center with its Sankore university and other madrasas.
Destroying world heritage architecture is a way to erase the past and its memory. Do the destructors have a new way of life with new roots and new beliefs to implement in replacement?

(link to the Unesco site)

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Zeri Crafts exhibition in Kuwait

Zeri crafts is launching its products tomorrow Monday 5th of May at Sadu House from 5 to 7 pm.
A new interpretation of the Kuwaiti sadu design on silk or metal for different purposes: cushions, scarfs, shawls, mabkharas, lamps.
Great attention to details, delicate workmanship, vivid color combinations.
If you have time, it is worth the visit.

zeri crafts link

Friday, 11 November 2011

"Now where to?" movie by Nadine Labaki

Nadine Labaki strikes again with a movie on Lebanon. Entertaining, funny, sad, devastating, stirring emotions, stirring memories, the movie is well done. It also raises many unsolved issues in the recent history of Lebanon: sectarian schism, religious clashes, snippers omnipresence, villages divided, sons killed, mothers wailing, sisters in chock, some hiding, others in silence. The movie is surely a women's voice of the civil war, what could have they done, how did they contribute passively or actively. And the story ends with a total twist of fate that puts hope and gives courage to women in the possibility to alter the course of life.
A must see.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Zahed Sultan, music

"My single "I Want Her But I Don't Want Her" went live (for sale) today on iTunes via the infamous Hotel Costes 15 compilation :) Already...(in less than 1 day) its sales / download popularity has surpassed EVERYTHING i have done on my part for the past 6 MONTHS to sell my music!!!! Now that's BRAND POWER!!!", Zahed Sultan comments on his track a month ago.
Kuwaiti artist, with hands on other issues such as an environmental movement with a magazine, a yearly exhibition,consulting, Zahed has talent and is surely enjoying himself. Good music, way to go...

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Culinary Photography Festival in Paris

 Copyright © Beena Paradin

Copyright © Claudia Albisser

The 3rd FIPC (International Festival of Culinary Photography) event will take place in Paris from 28th October to 13th November 2011. 

Prizes are given to the best photographer, another to the best photography of Heritage food or ingredient, another to food bloggers. 
If in Paris, take a look. 
The whole industry of culinary photography has taken a new turn:
First, the well orchestrated shooting of ingredients, cooked food and ambiance to entice food appreciation and consumption.
Second is this festival's objective : street food and what do people eat in the simplest form. 

Some Tv networks cook all day, bloggers start in their kitchen sharing their daily recipes, a movie was made on Julia Child and the blogger who tried to cook all recipes in her cookbook. Fast food spreading. Slow food gaining grounds.
It all gives a happy ending feeling: they present wonderful looking food, they share recipes and as a viewer, you can watch, but not smell and not taste until you get to your kitchen and do it yourself. 
Quite a way to help people create. 

Website link to the FIPC

Friday, 28 October 2011

Shoe? Safaa Alset in Bahrein

An exhibition at Albareh gallery in conjonction with Saks Fith avenue in Bahrein from the 25th october to the 24th of November 2011.
Safaa Alset, syrian artist, works metal and creates sculptural forms.
Her "Shoe" is about also the arabic meaning of "shou" (or What)
The question is surely about the cinderella ever growing syndrom of the shoe in the Arab world. Metal shoes, designers red sole shoes, flipflops, higher and higher heels or any form of shoes to squish those toes and look pretty?
Shou, are we getting out of it soon and addressing issues in the Arab world in regard of what women could achieve?
Shou, do we stay stuck in the realm of pretty pretty girls and brush our vanity?
Shou, will artists know where to look for inspiration on women's condition in the arab world?

Safaa Alset writes on one sculpted shoe : Shou, lawen rayheen (or "What, Where are we going?")
Of course, it is the toughest question to ask in the region today.

link to albareh
link to Safaa Alset website

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Giovanni Curatello: Isfahan's friday's mosque

At Dal al Athar, in Kuwait, Giovanni Curatello gave a lecture on his passionate interaction with Friday Mosque in Isfahan, Iran. Professor of art history at the Udine University in Italy, Curatello started his career as an archeologist in Isfahan where excavation were conducted in the seventies. In his lecture, he talked about  the different encounters in archeology, in architecture, in Islamic art, in geometrical patterns. The mosque was built in 772 under the Abasside rule and evolved with added elements throughout the passage of different rulers. The most obvious element talked about is the Dome of Nizam al Mulk, as Curatello mentioned, is an architectural masterpiece in its size, diameter, height and material used.
Curatello seem to travel extensively to the place where his passion started as he showed pictures of mosque taken last september. It looks like he will continue his exploration to expose the mysteries in the mosque. "The monument will only give answers to questions as far as the one asking is ready to receive; and only when it wishes to give them" says Curatello. The tale of the mosque was a "fascinating forest of colors", shapes, volumes and stories.

(more on the mosque : link )

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Sept 11, 2011 - Sound of Silence


Ground Zero in Manhattan at the Memorial for the Sept 11, 2001; ten years after. Paul Simon sings live: The Sound of Silence:

Hello darkness, my old friend...

It is a time in the US to remember the loss of their loved one in that tragedy.
It is a time for us Arabs to remember the loss of so many as a result in the ripple effect.
Security became a vast subject for debate and action. Repression another version. Chaos created. Fear installed. Hatred creeping in.
Ten years spent watching a war on terror, rather than spending it on development, education, creating jobs for the younger ones, promoting acceptance and care.

"And in the naked light
I saw Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared Disturb the sound of silence

We got all entangled in finding scape goats, isolating groups based on religion or color, fighting other people's wars, destroying our best on the way.

"And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made

We each have our own war to worry about, but remember that destruction leads only to more of it, while construction takes time and effort, choose the right war.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Milonga sauvage, Tango in Paris

Milonga is the place or the event for a tango dance. Sauvage in french is "wild".
Through a mailing list, fans of Tango meet up in a place, not necessarily a stage or a room. Music is played, and couples reach out for a few hours of dancing delirium. Girls, if alone, can line up on one side, put their tango shoes on, until a man proposes. No money is envolved, it is not a class, nor a rigid structure.
They swirl on the beat, take the pause in their movement to stay on the tune, they close their eyes for perfect pleasure.

Arabs of the new social media revolution, those who saw all the anti-dictatorship movements, why not use  twitter to plan a "Milango sauvage" or a "wild taqtaqa" and dance to new winds of freedom

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Life with Saddam: the book

"My life with Saddam" by Parisoula Lampsos and the journalist Lena Katarina Swanberg was published in the spring 2010 in Sweden. Written locally in Swedish, the book was reviewed by the major western newspaper and rights for a translation were sold to many countries in the West. The closest to the Arab world is Turkey who bought rights to translate it and publish it.
There is always controversy on veracity and authenticity in a story that is hard to verify by other sources. But the value of such a story is to read a way of life that is quite close to Saddam and his sons. It could be field under the Historic/fiction genre.
The question is why hasn't it been translated in Arabic for a wider and more concerned public?
Today in the Arab World, where dictators have a hard chance of long term, future plans; it might be a good idea to reflect on recent history and remember what was life like under them. The value of attachement to history is not a question of emotional memories, but rather a medicine to create a cleaner future without follies of the past.

link to the publishing agent

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Rise Planet of the apes / movie

For those born before 1963, the book "planet of the Apes" by the the french writer Pierre Boulle is the first exploration into the world of apes controlling humans and the injustice seen from another perspective. Then movies, Tv series have been produced, shown in theatres, seen by so many and engraved in the collective unconsciousness. How would we feel if we were the one trapped in the victim's seat?
In the sixties, the racial struggle between black and white in the USA was at it's peak. Today, they have a colored president. That looks like evolution on that front.

We, in the Arab world, should welcome such a movie in force. The Arab world is living revolutionary winters, freedom springs, bloody summers and uncertain autumn, with a common weather forecast of "down with the dictatorships".
The underprivileged need more than despair to move forward. They need that sparkle in the eye that means: yes we can!
In the Arab world, there are many dark areas of injustice and inequality. Women could take a forward stand and be more forceful than just driving in Saudi Arabia. Religious monopoly reduces minorities to hide and lie. And on and on...
One wish for this movie is to be shown without censorship!