June Highlights: Celebrating Refugee Week + MENA-Inspired Events

June begins halfway through the sacred month of Ramadan with two more weeks to go for those keeping the fast. So in advance, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Eid! After which, of course, the social, cultural and artistic calendars will fill up again at a higher speed and at their more usual rythm.

Looking through My Curious Inbox, one important week-long occurrence will be the celebrations connected to Refugee Week, marking its 20th anniversary this year. A worldwide phenomenon, Refugee Week was established to counter negative narratives often encountered in mainstream media and within society towards refugees and asylum-seekers, by highlighting their positive contributions made to host communities. 

In London, there will be hundreds of events throughout Refugee Week (18-24 June) so below are just my top three that are MENA-connected.

Lowkey + Guests: 24 June at KOKO

A leading light of the UK hip-hop scene and a strong campaigning voice for the rights of refugees, British-Iraqi Lowkey will take the lead at an important time in the festival’s history. One of the UK's most potent and electrifying rappers, Lowkey is a towering figure who renews the tradition of conscious activism for a generation brought up with the' War on Terrorism'. Fusing politically charged lyrics and agile dissection of topics such as race, war, global poverty and internationalist politics, he commands a keen and growing legion of followers and still treading new ground and generating fresh enthusiasm 14 years after releasing his first mixtape. 

For more: https://www.ticketweb.uk/event/lowkey-guests-koko-tickets/8367475?pl=KOK
Human Bridges: 23 June at Manor House

Dima Karout Studio will be hosting a creative printing workshop alongside an art exhibition inspired by the story of ten Syrian artists who originally connected at the Fine Arts University of Damascus in the year 2000 but whom today have all lost their home, wherein the thin line of friendship built through art survived and virtually crossing continents. Based on the gifts offered to Dima Karout over the years, the objects travelled with her from Damascus to Paris to Sacramento to Montreal and now they have landed in London, carrying a strong metaphor for connection and creating human bridges.

For more: http://refugeeweek.org.uk/events/human-bridges/

Fragments Of A Journey: 20 June at Shakespeare Globe

This involves the informal showing of two pieces of work in progress, both performed by refugees, on the theme of displacement. The first part 'Safar is the result of a dance project led by Hawiyya Dance Co, that will present a group of women, accompanied by musicians on stage, who will perform a dabke dance as a celebration of the resilience and resistance of refugee women. Their performance explores movement as a tool of expression for both individual and cultural identity, while reflecting on the concepts of journey and womanhood. 

While the second part 'Fragments' has been devised through workshops run by the 'Single Homeless Project' in collaboration with Palestinian theatre-maker Mo’min Swaitat, It draws on music and movement rooted in the participants’ home cultures, as well as impressions of London and the chaotic beginnings of resettlement. The show focuses on the journey from dystopia to the unknown, depicting the shattering and reintegration of cultures, memories, time and space, as experienced through the body in motion. 

For more; http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/whats-on-2018/fragments-of-a-journey

Otherwise, June is also a great month to get to the exhibitions that include my top two:

Azzedine Alaïa: Until 7 October at Design Museum 

A solo exhibition dedicated to the work of Tunisian-born couturier and designer Azzedine Alaïa, whose esteemed client list included Greta Garbo, Grace Jones, Michelle Obama and Rihanna. Conceived and co-curated with Monsieur Alaïa before his death in November 2017, it charts his incredible journey from sculptor to couturier, his nonconformist nature and his infectious energy for fashion, friendship and the female body. Rather than a retrospective, the show interlaces stories of his life and career alongside personally selected garments, ranging from the rare to the iconic and spanning the early 1980s to his most recent collection in 2017. 

For more: http://designmuseum.org/exhibitions/azzedine-alaa-the-couturier

Rachid Koraïchi: 21 June-28 July at October Gallery

A solo exhibition for Algerian artist Rachid Koraïchi, whose impressive oeuvre includes silk hangings, ceramics, sculptures, as well as works on canvas and paper. Incorporating calligraphy as a graphic element in his work, Koraïchi sees art as an ancient path into the unknown, wherein the signs and symbols from civilisation’s oldest languages are abstracted and deconstructed to create a new visual vocabulary. In this newly presented series entitled 'Les osties bleues' - a reference to Sacramental bread - he explores human connections to the earth as a source of life. Set on blue and white canvases and wall mounted square ceramics, the artist continues to use a limited palette emphasizing the graphic power of his inscriptions.

For more: http://www.octobergallery.co.uk/

Artist of the Month: Mohamed Abumeis

Every month on Nahla Ink, I like to share images of works of artists I highly respect and admire. This month the images on my Home Page and Editorial Note are of the Libyan artist Mohamed Abumeis, whose work I came across earlier this year as part of the 'Retracing a Parallel Landscape' exhibition. He has kindly offered me permission to use them here. 

My Curious Inbox + Twitter @NahlaInk

As always, I refer you to My Curious Inbox page where I list all artistic and cultural entries that come my way and which I think my readers would like to know about.

Updated on a regular basis, there is always something appealing for everyone and do make sure to scroll down the page so as not to miss out on anything.

For more: http://nahlaink.com/curious-inbox: 

Lastly, if you want to be in the super know, you can always follow me on Twitter @NahlaInk

Best wishes to all!

Nahla Al-Ageli

Freelance Journalist + Blogger

London, June 2018

Images: Artworks of Libyan Artist Mohamed Abumeis