In the third biennial festival of contemporary Arab culture, Shubbak Festival 2015 in venues across London offers 15 days of films, performance, visual art, talks, literature, dance and more. Opening 11 July 2015, Shubbak Festival ends 26 July 2015 (some exhibitions and events continue beyond 26 July 2015; check Shubbak Festival website for more information).
“Badke” performance at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre
In this one-night performance, “dabke” (a traditional regional dance form) becomes “Badke“, a contemporary revolution of body movement, that celebrates freedom, belonging, and identity. Forming Badke are 10 Palestinian performers versed in a broad variety of dance, from capoeira to hip-hop and circus, who collaborate with three choreographers, Koen Augustijnen, Rosalba Torres Guerrero (les ballets C de la B), and Hildegard De Vuyst (KVS) from Belgium. The evening was explosive, surprising, and captivating and more than anything, it seemed these 10 men and women were dancing for their lives. 14 July 2015, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London.
Khalid Shafar, ‘The Nomad’, public art installation
In his first work of public art, designer Khalid Shafar installs “The Nomad” on the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground at the centre of Chelsea College of Arts, London. “The Nomad” is an interactive design; more than just a piece of furniture, the structure reminiscent of a palm tree offers refuge to passers by under the wooden “fronds”, or becomes a place to share in the company of friends. Shafar says the work, while referring to “modernity and stylish living [it] did not mean an avoidance of the past, rather an integration of it.” Many of Shafar’s designs come from traditional architecture, which, he says are “inspired by old masterpieces and take shapes from old features such as wind towers and small caved windows.” About “The Nomad“, the designer “wanted to share his observations… and contribute to a new approach to UAE architecture.” Ends 25 July 2015.
“Echoes and Reverberations” exhibition at Hayward Gallery Project Space
At Hayward Gallery Project Space, “Echoes and Reverberations” offers three rooms of contemporary art objects, films, and performances from six artists: Jumana Emil Abboud, Basma Alsharif, Samah Hijawi, Anas Al-Shaikh, Magdi Mostafa, and Joe Namy.
In the foyer of “Echoes and Reverberations“, the visitor is confronted by “Wisdom Tower” by Magdi Mostafa, a monolithic structure from which the voice of a “muezzin [Muslim prayer caller]” rings out; on a closer look, the device might suggest an abstraction of a rug standing vertically. Lest you think the voices coming from the speaker-rug might be something other than prayer, the Quran verses in Arabic with English translation are provided on the screen to the right.
After a look at the adjacent video installation, “My land, 2”, by Anas Al-Shaikh which “expresses shared sorrow, pain and suffering but also love and endurance”, the next room contains work by three artists: Joe Namy (from Beirut) with Samah Hijawi and Jumana Emil Abboud, both Palestinian. Namy’s installation with narration and musical tones is a fascinating “poetic deconstruction of the harmonium”, where a musical tone or a poetic phrase leads to the next to complete the score.
The final room contains a projected 19-minute video by Basma Alsharif, “We Began by Measuring Distance” which explores memory and subjective experience through a loose conglomeration of still frames, brief clips, and sound, with English subtitles. The male narrator recounts how an anonymous group, bored of their situation with nothing much to do, try to occupy their time by calculating random distances. This exercise then gives way to “absurd or political measurements…examining the inability of facts, statistics, or the visual to meaningfully record events or communicate the tragic”. Rome to Geneva to Madrid to Sharm al-Sheikh to Gaza to Jerusalem ultimately comes to 78 km. 1967 comes from 1948 by way of 1917. Neon colourful jellyfish turn into SCUD missiles under Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” and the narrator concludes,
We measured the distance between Palestine and Israel and found that Rome wasn’t built in a day…
Alsharif’s video neatly ties up an excellent exhibition full of profound and beautiful works. “Echoes and Reverberations” ends 16 August 2015.
More links and information about Shubbak Festival 2015
- Read about Shubbak Festival 2015
- View/download full Shubbak Festival Guide [PDF] – see what’s coming up on the schedule
- View/download Shubbak Festival 2015 Press Release [PDF]
- An interview with Khalid Shafar from Dubai, “The Art of Imagineering” by Lisa Ball-Lechgar – 8 July 2015, Shubbak Festival blog.
- Aimee Dawson, writer-in-residence, interviews Hildegard De Vuyst of Badke dance company, “A dream-like nightmare and a painful joy” – 13 July 2015, Shubbak Festival blog.
- Read about “Echoes & Reverberations” at Hayward Gallery Project Space – 23 June through 16 August 2015.
Reviews of Shubbak Festival
- “Badke: Fascinating choreography” by Barbara Newman in The Country Life – 20 July 2015
- “Echoes and Reverberations…immerses the participant through a variety of mediums, and exhibits novel, beautiful, and interesting art works” by Lena Felton for Bric Plus – The New World Magazine – 20 July 2015
- From 2013 Shubbak Festival: “Khaled Jarrar at Ayyam Gallery” on kelise72.com – 28 June 2013
Exhibition details: Shubbak Festival 2015 is held at various locations throughout London from 11 through 26 July 2015. Some events and exhibitions are free to the public, and remain open beyond 26 July 2015.
Omar Al-Qattan, Secretary of the Board of Trustees,
A.M.Qattan Foundation; Eckhard Thiemann, Artistic Director and Daniel Gorman, Festival Director.
Shubbak Core Funders:
A. M. Qattan Foundation
Al-Qattan Charitable Trust
Arts Council England
Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC).
Event & Exhibition Funders & Partners:
Open Society Foundations
Abu Dhabi Festival
International Prize for Arabic Fiction
Embassy of the Kingdom of Holland
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Institut Francais de Royaume –Uni
Polish Cultural Institute
Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in the UK
Maraya Arts Centre
The Richard Carne Trust
The Iraqi Cultural Centre
Dubai Design District (d3)
Foundation for Arab Music Archiving & Research (AMAR)