September Note - Top Picks From London's Arts & Culture Calendar

September has arrived and we bid farewell to the holiday season. London will now see the restart to a fuller arts and culture calendar as we head into the the Autumn months. There are plenty of MENA-inspired events taking place and below are just some highlights I have selected from over 20 entries of films, festivals, exhibitions, music and much more that have come my way.

London Design Biennale - 4-12 September at Somerset House

The 2018 London Design Biennale will be devoted to the theme of 'Emotional States'. Representing 40 countries, cities and territories, it will be exploring big questions and ideas about sustainability, migration, pollution, energy, cities and social equality. Visitors will be able to enjoy engaging and interactive installations, innovations, artworks and proposed design solutions - all in an immersive, inspiring and entertaining tour of the world. As emotions are universal with shared meanings that transcend borders, together the different countries’ responses to the theme will present an exciting laboratory of ideas. The Arab countries participating include: Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Egypt. 

For more:

The SAFAR Film Festival - 13-18 September at The ICA and Ciné Lumière

Presented by the Arab British Centre, the fourth edition of the SAFAR Film Festival will be celebrating the symbiotic and enduring relationship of literature and film in the Arab world, through a vibrant programme of features, shorts, and documentaries, spanning over 50 year. Curated by renowned Egyptian film critic Joseph Fahim, the festival addresses an important and fertile period of filmmaking and writing, presenting classic adaptations from Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, from some of the most famous directors and authors of the region, alongside films from Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan, Palestine, Iraq and Qatar. The films will be screening at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) and Ciné Lumière. 

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Acid Arab (DJ Set) - 21 September at the Jazz Cafe

Absorbing myriad musical influences from oriental and Arabic to Turkish and Indian, Acid Arab's Musique De France won them legions of admirers including Gilles Peterson, who invited the duo to perform live at the Worldwide Awards last year. Their electric live show shook a sold out Jazz Cafe last year, and now they return for a go behind the wheels in the booth! As they have stated: “We are fascinated by eastern music and its codes, such as complex rhythmic structures (binary and ternary superimposing upon each other), which drive dancers to trance just like acid house does. We’d like to take these codes and use analog techno devices (beatboxes, bass line machines) to create something new: an oriental acid music which combines the coldness of techno and the emotional and dramatic power of the East."

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Uncensored - Banned Books Week Quiz - 23 September at the Book Club

Kicking off Banned Books Week, this unusual event will feature an uncensored quiz led by Bidisha S K Mamata and hosted by Saqi publishers. Guests are invited to bring along a pen and bookish friends and be prepared to be shocked by the real and dangerous – and often ludicrous – state of book censorship, past and present, around the world. There will be prizes and approximately ten rounds of questions, with audience engagement actively encouraged; and, wherein heckles are only accepted in the form of haiku! With Bidisha - who is a writer, journalist and broadcaster specialising in social justice, international affairs, gender and the arts - and Saqi, which is a 35-year-old London-based Middle East specialist and independent publishing house that is no stranger to the banning of its books all over the Middle East and or facing threats over its published material!

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47Soul + Kefaya - 29 September at Islington Assembly Hall 

The four member group that came together in Jordan in 2013 specialise in a fusion of electronic hip-hop and traditional dabke dance music, mixed in with a dash of reggae, sturdy melodies and chanting vocals alternating between English and Arabic words. The genre is becoming a symbol of Arab youth culture, offering a necessary refreshing change to the common representation. After releasing their debut EP, they started touring the world - to spread a universal message that amphasises unity by accepting diversity - and have fired up crowds at Glastonbury, Womad and back in their home. They will be joined by Kefaya, the international music collective formed and led by London-based musicians and producers Giuliano Modarelli and Al MacSween, who will deliver their unique blend of global folk rhythms and cutting-edge, 21st century sound.

My Curious Inbox - The Full Listing of MENA-Inspired Events

Updated weekly, this is where you will find the full listing of events in London that are in some way or other connected to the Arab world and its diaspora communities. 

Do make sure to scroll down for two pages so as not to miss out on anything. 

For more:

Twitter @NahlaInk

Lastly, if you wish to be in the super know of the latest of Arab-London creative news, you can also follow me on Twitter @NahlaInk. 

Best wishes to all!

Nahla Al-Ageli

Freelance Journalist + Blogger

London, September 2018

Images: Artworks of the Syrian Artist-Illustrator Dima Nashawi, posted with kind permission, as Nahla Ink artist of the month.

For more on Dima Nashawi: