Arts + Culture

Culture sets great urban creations in the context of their city, and Residence glimpses homes dreamed up by artists, writers, musicians and architects. In-depth experiences in which Lammeh examines the issues that the Middle East faces through a lens of the arts, design and most importantly, people.

Pavilion of the UAE

National Pavilion UAE unveils Passage, an immersive, site-specific video installation by poet and filmmaker Nujoom Alghanem,

Pavilion of Saudi Arabia

Zahrah Al Ghamdi is the artist to exhibit in the Pavilion of Saudi Arabia at the Biennale Arte 2019

Tariq AlHajri

Tariq describes himself as being at an age where he knows nothing and everything at the same time and uses photography as a means to express his own take on the world and its diversity. In conversation with Tariq Alhajri, a young Omani photographer who describes his work as being inspired by Omani suburbia, culture and memories. Tariq’s fascination with natural light and his ability to remember every intricate detail from his childhood village is most admirable and alluring and is what inspired him to shoot the series “The Rejuvenation of Past”.

RO: What inspired you to shoot the Rejuvenation of Past?

TA: To be honest, there was this postcard of an Omani lady crossing her legs, shot by A.R Fernandez back in 1901. There was barely any information about this photographer but I loved that picture because it fit my photography standards and motivated me to shoot this concept I had in mind since high school. I wanted to bring back some characters from my past, and relive the moment of how they would have lived their youth in these modern days, and still do the same traditional tasks.

RO: How much do you think have your experiences and memories inspired your photography?

TA: A lot! Most of my concepts are based on my memories and experiences. I’m not good with words and talking, so I use photography to interpret my own view of my experiences and my memories in an artistic way.

Dr. Azra

It fascinates me she said, the power, the strength we all have within us that we need to explore. Dr. Azra, a Dubai based chiropractor and designer explains her fascination with the powers of the human body, so complex that scientists till today keep trying to comprehend it entirely while learning more but never everything.

“It’s amazing what your hands can learn”, she explains. “Of course there are other senses involved but the hands, they remember, they can feel pain, heat, inflammation. It just reflects on God’s creation and the perfection of what he created”. The healing powers of the hand is what inspired her even as a chiropractor.

At the age of 8 Dr. Azra started designing jewellery and selling it out of her house and then her fascination with what the hands can create never stopped. An artist can do beautiful things with their hands she said, while looking at the henna on her hand at the very moment. She explained how her love for expressing her art through henna developed when she did an Emarati henna design for a friend on Eid. The photographs of the hands came so beautiful that she could not help but do it again, slowly drawing inspiration from nature and travelling.

Her designs were soon appreciated by people on social media and she gained recognition for her aesthetic. “Instagram as a community loves art, something different, something attractive & new” she exclaims! so when she started posting her work solely with passion, without looking for money or fame it was just appreciated by people. Also handcrafting bespoke bags for herself at the age of 15 drew her friends attention, which has over time turned into her own design label, “Azra”.

Mous Lamrabat

Mous Lamrabat is reinventing what it means to shoot fashion. A Moroccan transplant to Belgium, Mous’ is best known for his dreamy, pastel painted images of cloaked bodies as well visually translating Morocco’s obsessive nature with branding. His images often take shape against Morocco’s alluring landscapes. As a photographer who constantly plays with his style, sometimes shooting high-flash, abstract images, sometimes shooting raw, indigenous colors, it isn’t exactly easy to place his work. But it’s for exactly this reason that people are attracted to his work, this unknown of what’s to come next. A curiosity for how each image was born.

Amira Asad: You works a lot with faux or mimic luxury brand symbols in your photos, such as Gucci and Prada for example. Can you tell me about this decision?

Mous Lamrabat: It started when I met my friend Artsi Ifrach in Morocco – he’s also helped me open my eyes a lot and been a bit of a creative mentor. We often work together and both are into fashion and want to continue working in it, but want to approach it differently. Everyone has a different idea of what something should look like. In shooting a campaign, for example, if I tell you that you have to photograph one tomorrow for Nike or Gucci you’re already influenced by having seen thousands of campaigns. You already know a direction you have to work in. We try to start from a new universe. In a parallel universe, how would you shoot a campaign if there weren’t any before it to influence you? In Morocco everything is branded. You have Louis Vuitton scooters, Gucci trucks, a tracksuit with the H&M logo just because it needs to have a brand. I thought it would be fun to create something from this.

Fafa

Fafa is an open book. In first five minutes of meeting her, we’re already knees deep in discussion about her battles with mental health and her frustrations with its lack of visibility, or the lack of discussion around it, in today’s society. I’ve learned that she makes a killer vegan mac n’ cheese dish and has an instagram account dedicated to her herbivore creations. Everything about the Emirati-Honduran singer and songwriter is loud. Her curly black hair that climbs and tangles and bounces with each breath, loud. Her opinions, loud. ‘I was always one of those people with big dreams,’ she smiles.

To the public eye, Fafa’s musical career may seem to have just begun, with just a selection of her content available online through YouTube and snippets of live performances and studio visits posted to her Instagram.

Her soothing voice –– powerful in its range –– often dancing over the sounds of acoustics. However, music has been an integral element of Fafa’s life since the age of eight, when her substitute piano teacher caught on to her singing potential during one of her lessons. ‘The substitute happened to be a singing teacher and when I would play piano, she told me that I wasn’t saying the notes i was singing them –– that I had or tone or something,’ she says, remembering her as the first person to push that she pursue singing lessons. So from there I just started singing all the time, anywhere I could sing. People would be like do that little song you were doing in the living room,’ she jokes.

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