HKZ2013 Highlights: Galleries and Installations
In the past 5 years, the Arab region has experienced a lot of changes and turbulences in both social and political scenes. People became more expressive and art is less censored and monitored. We witnessed a new wave of galleries and art spaces that support the local artists, take part in documenting the Arab scene though art and most importantly, get our voices heard globally.
One of the latest immerging galleries in the art scene is Carwan Gallery .They established a new permanent location in Beirut, Lebanon after a series of pop up galleries across the globe . The gallery’s first objective was to foster the singular relationship between designers and craftsmen through commissions. As a result, more than fifteen designers from all over the world found inspiration in Middle Eastern crafts to reinvent traditional techniques and create unique contemporary objects.
After three years of pop-up exhibitions in international design fairs and museums, Carwan settles in a space that will showcase contemporary objects in limited editions, creating a permanent link with friends, collectors and partners with a food‐design installation by Charbel El Hachem and Carlo Massoud.
During the opening celebration, guests were wowed by the food-design installation “EAT THEM” created by chef Charbel El Hachem and designer Carlo Massoud, which consisted of a spectacular chocolate fondue (a 55-kilogram chocolate cube slowly melting on a heated marble table) and a display of 123 bent spoons attached on the window behind it, each spoon holding a savory treat.
Alāan Artspace is a new space for contemporary arts in Riyadh, which despite the novelty of the contemporary art phenomena in Saudi Arabia, launched by the end of 2012 with an exhibition exploring female identity and societal dynamics. Established by brother and sister Neama and Mohammed Al-Sudairy, a gallery, library, restaurant and a shop have been blended into the Alāan Artspace formula. Having been educated and working abroad; the art-savvy owners aim to provide a platform for a growing number of Saudi artists to support the contemporary arts scene. Alāan – which means ‘now’ in Arabic – reflects the energy of the art scene in Saudi and the feeling in Riyadh that a space such as this is long overdue.
Alāan Artspace opened in October last year in the Saudi capital with Soft Power, an exhibition that reflects the growing movement of Saudi female artists. Alāan Artspace is a multi-functional contemporary gallery, educational hub, library, restaurant, shop and coffeehouse located in the heart of Riyadh. Dedicated to nurturing emerging and established contemporary artists and designers from Saudi Arabia, the region, and across the globe, Alāan Artspace’s program offers both a commercial platform for artists through regular rotating exhibitions and a non-profit educational forum for artists and creative practitioners, art enthusiasts, young people in affiliation with local schools and universities, and families with children across the city.
Heading to the UK, The Wind Portal is a walk through installation that represents a transition space from an inside to an outside area. It defines an exaggeration of a specific sensorial moment that each one of us experiences throughout our daily lives. Created by Najla El Zein Studio in conjunction with lighting designer Maurice Asso from Hilights, The Wind Portal is a new interactive artwork of 5,000 paper windmills installed in an imposing 8 ft. doorway inside the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Through The Wind Portal installation, shaped as a monumental gate of 8 meters high and composed of thousands of paper windmills that spin thanks to an integrated wind system, the aim was to make our visitors feel, hear and be aware of the action of transitioning through two spaces. Visitors are invited to walk through the two wedges of poles in the eight-meter-high gateway, which is positioned between a stairwell and the Day-lit Gallery of the V&A museum.
Design Days Dubai 2013 featured The Seven Stages of The Heart; an installation by Wyssem Nochi and Bokja. This collection is rooted in sufi teaching and, through the creative application of fabrics to seven of Nochi’s iconic iron chairs, the installation illustrates the journey from the material to the spiritual.
In the Kingdom of the heart, seven stages there are: That the seeker of Truth must go, through them all…
When the seventh stage, thy home is reached. – Hazrat Shah Sadegh Angha, The Light of Salvation.
“The lines of the hexagon in Wyssem Nochi’s chair form a natural pyramid,” Huda Baroudi and Maria Hibri of Bokja said. “His design was pure and minimal and offered the perfect foundation to build our collection. Each upholstered chair represents a stage in the journey of life – to shed oneself of all material possessions and earthly desires.”
They add, “When thinking about the impact of recent events in our region of the world, we found ourselves looking inwards, trying to make sense of things. Intuitively we were drawn to the words and teachings of sufism to help us understand, spiritually, what has been happening.”
Dihzahyners took their art to the stairs of Beirut. They started out as an inspired, driven & passionate team of 12 friends in their early 20s and came together to make Beirut a more colorful and brighter place to live in. After they have completed their first initiative in Sakiet El Janzier, they had only a team name, but wanted to give this great initiative a spark and name of its own! Thus the creation of Paint Up! : A series of Urban Initiatives by Dihzahyners.
“We began on the initial ideas/concepts and grew with this incredible, since that time we had been researching about ways to help out, through urban design, and intervening in the public spaces/locations in Beirut for a while” said a member of the Dihzahyners crew. They came to realize that painting particular places that need some freshening and brightening up would be great! In terms of Inspiration, they have always researched and shared visuals from around the world with one another of street art, graffiti, outdoor and urban design, and as designers are always inspired to try such things.
We can’t over look the biggest art and design event in the Middle East. Design Days Dubai 2013 is the first of its kind design fair in the region, bringing the most exclusive selection of limited edition design to the region. A showcase of rare or unique furniture, objects or design works, the inaugural Design Days Dubai was held from March 18 to 21, 2012, to coincide with Art Week, the city’s premier art event. Design Days Dubai was hosted at its dedicated premises in Downtown Dubai. Through a series of seminars, talks, workshops, panel discussions, live performances, and interactive sessions held during the fair, Design Days Dubai established itself as the flagship forum for the design industry and a catalyst that drives its growth in the region. Cyril Zammit, Fair Director, Design Days Dubai, said: “This first edition of Design Days Dubai has been a great success with the participation of world class design galleries and high calibre visitors from all over the globe, including a particularly strong turn-out from the region. The regional impact has been incredible with many designers, companies, students and educators from the region already contacting us with ideas of how they could be involved in 2013. Their support is hugely encouraging as we begin to look at how we can grow the event and provide not just a fair for collectible design to the local and regional community but a platform to show Middle Eastern design on an international level.”
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