Written by William Dobson
As the countdown to Christmas begins, there’s no let up on goings on this week on London’s Middle Eastern cultural scene. It’s the last week of the Nour Festival of Arts too so, if you haven’t had a chance to experience it yet, check out the programme here!
Monday 26th November
Febrik: The Watchtower of Happiness – Mosaic Rooms, London
Running until Decmber 8th, The Watchtower of Happiness is a new installation by Febrik. This interactive work looks at the inventive, culturally specific and unique practices that demonstrators employed to occupy public spaces in three Arab cities during the recent uprisings: Tunisia, Egypt and Syria.
The Watchtower of Happiness uses these early moments of resistance and change, to turn visitors into unintentional activists through their interactions with different vantage points, viewfinders and captured images in the installation. Visitors will be able to climb the structure, take photographs of themselves in front of different backdrops, as well as other participatory elements. Visitors’ photographs will be shared online encouraging further interaction.
Alongside this interactive installation, there will also be Other Landscapes of Occupation – a pop up shop. This Landscape will host a series of public activities- from selling objects and items by Middle Eastern contemporary designers such as Nedda El-Asmar, Zeri Crafts, Nada Debs, Silsal, Dia Batal and Mounaya; to gathering around the space to share stories over seasonal refreshments from the café; to watching others interact with the tower and activate its levels and vantage points; to playing with practices from this experience, including creating make-shift helmets from recycled materials. Click here for more about the designers and items featuring in the pop up shop.
For more information, see here
Tuesday 27th November
Arab Nights – Soho Theatre, London
Six tales of revolution in a modern-day Arabian Nights
Shahrazad needs to survive for just one more night. Can her stories save her?
Meet diabolical djinnis, a latter-day Sinbad and a shoe-obsessed dictator’s wife in this collection of six new plays inspired by recent events in the Middle East and North Africa. From the stirring to the satirical, Metta Theatre brings these stories to life with their signature mix of performance, puppetry and live music, creating an Arabian Nights for a modern age.
Writers include: Baghdad Wedding playwright Hassan Abdulrazzak (Iraq); an anonymous writer (Iran); storyteller Chirine El Ansary (Egypt); journalist Ghalia Kabbani (Syria); live artist Tania El Khoury (Lebanon); and Orwell Prize-winning novelist Raja Shehadeh (Palestine).
Arab nights is running until 1st December and information can be found here
Wednesday 28th November
Electric Jalaba – The Tabernacle, London
Eclectic groove adventurers Soundspecies and Moroccan Gnawa Master musician Simo Lagnawi have teamed up to create some deep Psychedelic Space-Age Gnawa! Sacred songs of salvation, stories of mysterious women, men that divide oceans and armies of soul conquerers weave themselves amongst enormous infectious grooves, analogue effects and warped guitars. The sound of the camel skin Guembri and Lagnawi’s impressive vocals will transport you to another world as the band boil relentlessly through a range of beautifully unearthly grooves. Expect inexhaustible energy, moments of soulful calm and pinnacles of ecstatic mayhem, plus some dance moves you’ve definitely never seen before.
For more information, see here
Shorts at the Frontline Club – Frontline Club, London
How much time do you need to tell a story? Which techniques can you use for non-fiction storytelling? Join the Frontline Club for evening of short documentaries from different parts of the world covering a wide range of topics. Shorts at the Frontline Club will showcase moving, striking and funny films exploring the different faces of documentary.
There will be short stories capturing the essence of big issues; films showing life in other parts of the world under difficult or extraordinary circumstances; and stories focusing on one particular remarkable event or person. Included in the list will be Karama Has No Walls. Through the lenses of two cameramen and the accounts of two fathers, this short film retells the story of the people behind the statistics and news reports of the events that took place on the Friday of Dignity during the Yemeni revolution.
For more details, see here
Friday 30th November
Friday Late: Record, Reframe, Resist - V & A Museum, London
Challenge your perspective and step into a world of subversion and rebellion. Marking the V&A exhibition Light from the Middle East: New Photography, immerse yourself in an evening of exciting new art commissions, satirical film, live music and more.
For a full run down of what’s going on, see here
The Libyan – The Arab-British Centre, 1 Gough Square, London
The last night to catch this exhibition, The Libyan, curated by Noon Art and supported by the British Council, will bring together, for the very first time in London at the Arab British Centre, the incredible work of eight living Libyan artists. Male and female, from the ages of 24 to 67, their unique and individual work includes painting, short film, photography, sculpture and installation art.
The mixed show will offer a wonderful sample collection that draws on the Libyan’s preoccupations, from portrayal of the Libyan lifestyle and culture, Libyan women’s beauty, as well as touching on the political oppression under Gaddafi and the promises of the recent February Revolution.
Colourful and exotic, it will challenge any preconceptions regarding a lack of creativity coming from this newly liberated and emerging free democracy. The Libyan artists are finally able to explore, express and expose without fear of censure or reprisals.
Noon Arts is an artistic venture between two Libyan women, Najlaa El-Ageli and Nessrin Gebreel, whose love and mission is to let the world know about Libya’s art and artists. The Libyan exhibition is their debut project.
For more information, see here
The Arabian Nights – The Tricycle Club, London
“In our heads, my lord, we do contain all the images of the universe.”
In Baghdad, a young woman starts a revolution through the power of storytelling.
For three years, King Shahryar has taken bloody vengeance against the women of his city, marrying a new bride every night and killing her in the morning.
Scheherezade is determined to stop the bloodshed using the only weapons she has – her wit and imagination. Night after night, the King’s newest bride weaves tales of seduction, silliness and suspense. How long can her stories save her?
A punky, modern reimagining of ancient tales which will be on until the 12th January.