Curious Inbox

  • Natacha Atlas - 8 February, 2018 - London - Bush Hall -

Curious Inbox

Below are entries of current Arab-British related events taking place in London that you might wish to attend, festivals and exhibitions that are happening and other entries I receive in my Nahla Ink Inbox. Please contact me if you would like to be listed.

Letters from Baghdad (Screening): Directed by Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum, this documentary film tells the extraordinary and dramatic story of Gertrude Bell, the most powerful woman in the British Empire in her day. She shaped the destiny of Iraq after World War I in ways that still reverberate today. More influential than her friend and colleague Lawrence of Arabia, why has she been written out of the history she helped make? Hosted by the British Institute for the Study of Iraq, all proceeds will support their 'Visiting Iraqi Scholars' programme that fosters scholarly exchange between Iraq and the rest of the world. Taking place on 13 September, 2017 at The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH.

The Craft (Exhibition): The first UK solo exhibition by Kuwaiti artist Monira Al Qadiri, it comprises sculptures, videos and sound works that envisage international diplomacy as an alien conspiracy. Shown in two distinct environments – a mysterious, pitch black anteroom and an American diner – these semi-autobiographical works of science fiction unearth the unlikely stories lurking in the shadows of the artist’s childhood in Kuwait. Revisiting the fantasies that she and her sister elaborated during these early years, they depict the culture and rituals of diplomacy by which they were then surrounded as literally otherworldly to the current rise of nationalism and political populism. Hinting at pop culture, futuristic architecture, junk food, dream readings, alien abductions, war and peace: all of the once solid staples of modern life become tainted by a sense of distrust that overshadows everything and reaches a crescendo when the protagonist discovers that the ‘American Century’ has finally ended. Taking place 13 July-10 September, 2017 at the Gasworks Gallery, Gasworks, 155 Vauxhall Street, London SE11 5RH​.

Spectres Are Haunting Europe (Screening): The Idomeni refugee camp on the border of Greece and Macedonia housed over 8,000 people from the Middle East who were trying to cross the border into Europe. When Greek police closed the camp in 2016, the refugees resisted and blocked a railway line used to deliver goods into the country. Comprised of three parts and shot on a combination of HD Video and 16mm, Maria Kourkouta and Niki Giannari’s minimalist documentary observes these events in a series of carefully modelled static images that open up the space within and without of the frame, and in the closing black-and-white sequence offers a poetic commentary. The result is a bleak portrait of a place where endless lines of refugees try to preserve the final remnants of their individual freedoms. Showing on  9 September, 2017 at the Regent Street Cinema, 307 Regent Street, London W1B 2HW.

Gaza Surf Club Screening: Trapped in “the world’s largest open-air prison” and ruled by war, a new generation of Gazans is drawn to the beaches. Sick of occupation and political gridlock, they find joy in the waves of the Mediterranean. As the surfers of Gaza they form a tight community wherein the boards give them an opportunity to experience a small slice of freedom - between the coastal reminder of a depressing reality and the Israel-controlled three-mile marine border. Taking four years to complete, this is an engaging and enlightening story directed by Philip Gnadt and co-directed and produced by Mickey Yamine who will both be present post-screening for a Q&A with the audience. Taking place 8 September, 2017 at the Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, London W2 1QJ​.

Taste of Cement (Film): Launching the Open City Documentary Festival 2017 will be the screening of Ziad Kalthoum's 'Taste of Cement'. This is the highly-acclaimed portrait of exiled Syrian construction workers building a skyscraper in Beirut while at the same time their own homes are being shelled. It will be its UK premiere. The Open City Documentary Festival champions new voices in non-fiction storytelling and the programme offers a chance to see the best in contemporary, international documentary as well as filmmaker Q+As, industry panels, workshops, networking and parties. Taking place 5 September, 2017 at Picturehouse Central, Piccadilly, London W1D 7DH​.

Transition (Exhibition): Transition will be a showcase of over 30 emerging Middle Eastern artists as they reflect on the ways transition has taken place in their lives. Ranging from fine art, calligraphy, sculpture, photography to video, zines and installation, they explore topics and issues that shape their experiences both locally and internationally, including the effect of urbanisation as well as displacement, the impact of balancing East and West, and also looking at gender roles, embracing faith and the future of the Middle East. Organised by Reconnecting Arts with an accompanying programme of workshops, talks and educational tours, this exhibition will be taking place 15 August-2 September, 2017 at the Menier Gallery, 51 Southwark St, London SE1 1RU.

Shift (Exhibition): Three young female artists from Saudi Arabia - Dana Awartani, Zahrah Al-Ghamdi and Reem Al-Nasser - respond to accelerated change in their country and in the built environment of their cities and in domestic spaces. Caught between a future driven by globalisation and rapid urban development and a past at risk of erasure, the artists consider their own position and reflect on what is important to them as individuals and as part of the wider collective. The highlights include: Awartani's film that reflects on the impact of urban development in Jeddah and what the artist views as a social obsession with progress at a cost of losing what is left behind; Al-Ghamdi’s large wall based installation that is informed by her experiences of growing up in the traditional architecture of South-West Saudi Arabia and attempting to embody the contemporary loss of regional styles; and, Al-Nasser’s three part multimedia installation that attempts to simulate an experience of fear and anxiety by representing the past (an audio piece) the present (dual screen video installation) and the future (a printed booklet). Taking place 1 July-2 September, 2017 at the Mosaic Rooms, Tower House, 226 Cromwell Road, London SW5 0S


Yaz Fentazi & Robyn Hemmings: Led by Yaz Fentazi with Robyn Hemmings on double bass, this duo perform music that draws on the rich musical traditions of jazz, blues and North African music, built around original compositions. The music is a rootsy blend of gnawa, chaabi and Andalusian music. The Guardian has described Fentazi’s compositions as having "breadth and atmosphere, and his oud soloing, which recalls the drive and dynamism of world Oud star Anouar Brahem, is stunning". A free event to attend, it will be on 29 August, 2017 in the evening at the Upstairs at the Ritzy, Ritzy Cinema, Brixton Oval, London SW2 1JG London.

Arts Under Siege (Art, Music, Words): Curated by Maurice Jacobsen in collaboration with P21 Gallery and the Oxo Tower Courtyard venue, this powerful exhibition tells the story of the Gazan artists, writers and performers who are all caught in a conflict not of their making, living in limbo under blockade with an unknown future. It is a story told with original artworks, words, photography and video that are merged into an architecturally self-contained installation, designed to involve viewers, physically, intellectually and emotionally, bringing them immediately into the story. For visitors over the course of the ten day installation, there will be live two-way discussions where questions can be asked directly to the artists in Gaza. Taking place 18-28 August, 2017 at the Oxo Tower Courtyard, Bargehous Street, South Bank, London SE1 9PH.

Apo & the Apostles: Led by vocalist Apo Sahagian, the multilingual rock band hails from Jerusalem-Bethlehem, Palestine. Combining the diverse backgrounds of its members, the band has pioneered a musical style that integrates blues, dance, and Arabic elements as well as innovating with different styles all the time. Listed on Buzzfeed as one of the region’s hottest new bands and infamous for their late-night party-concerts, their debut album 'Back to Sababa' celebrated a trumpet-infused party rock sound with the ecstatic beats of the East and the melodies of the West. They will be performing for the first time in the UK on 24 August, 2017 at The Courtyard, 40 Pitfield Street, London N1 6EU​.


Below are entries of current Arab-British related events taking place in London that you might wish to attend, festivals and exhibitions that are happening and other entries I receive in my Nahla Ink Inbox. Please contact me if you would like to be listed.