August has arrived with Londoners taking their holidays abroad for some guaranteed sunshine.
As in town we don’t know with the weather, this still ought not to discourage or dampen the spirit to go out and enjoy some the wonderful MENA-inspired arts and culture events available.
Below are some picks of the exhibitions and music on offer as well as mention of the ‘Obliterated’ play that never was – with a message from the award-winning British-Palestinian Ahmed Masoud – and more on Dema One, the Nahla Ink Artist of the Month.
Exhibition Picks – If You Haven’t Already Been To View
Michael Rakowitz at The Whitechapel Gallery (Ends 25 August): https://www.whitechapelgallery.org/exhibitions/michael-rakowitz/
Seeing Through Babel (Kevork Mourad) at The Ismaili Centre (Ends 15 August): https://the.ismaili/united-kingdom/seeing-through-babel
Amma Baad (Nasser El Salem) at The Delfina Foundation (Ends 10 August): https://www.shubbak.co.uk/amma-baad/
Hicham Berrada Dreamscapes at the Hayward Gallery (Ends 18 August): https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/hayward-gallery-art/hicham-berrada
Raw Queens at the Mosaic Rooms (Ends 14 September): https://mosaicrooms.org/event/raw-queens/
Resilience Exile Mutation (REM) at the P21 Gallery (Ends 24 August):
Music Picks – You Can Still Book
Silk Moth (Bushra El-Turk) at The Arcola Theatre (9-11 August): https://www.arcolatheatre.com/whats-on/silk-moth/
Habibi Funk + Ladies on Records at The Jazz Cafe (9 August): https://www.residentadvisor.net/events/1265163
Freedom Sounds (Presented by Humanity for Palestine) at Brixton Electric (16 August): https://www.ticketweb.uk/event/humanity-for-palestine-presents-freedom-electric-brixton-tickets/9676625
SAMA’ (DJ and Techno Instigator) at Electowerkz (16 August): https://www.residentadvisor.net/events/1293597
Flamingods + The Turbans at The Jazz Cafe (23 August): https://www.residentadvisor.net/events/1265155
Theatre News: ‘Obliterated’ Play That Never Was
This month saw an unusual act pulled by the award-winning British-Palestinian writer Ahmed Masoud. There was supposed to be a new theatrical drama titled ‘Obliterated’ to be performed by the actress Maxine Peake and to be held on 9 August 2019 at the Amnesty International UK venue in Hackney. It was said the play would explore the complexity of Palestinian society that has lived under siege for over a decade, and delving deep into humanity’s most urgent social and political challenges with darkly satirical humour.
However, days in advance of the scheduled event, all the people who had booked to attend the free performance (2529 in total) received an email from Masoud that read:
“My dear friends,
Obliterated is Cancelled. There was never a play or a show, I didn’t write it and Maxine never rehearsed it.
I am not sure whether I will be able to write or do theatre again. They took our theatre, and with it our play.
Not even a year ago, on 09 August 2018, Gaza’s only theatre the Saeed Almishal Cultural Centre was bombed by Israeli warplanes and ripped to the ground in seconds.
A theatre turned to fire, rubble and dust. Expression lost to hate, for nothing sane.
I want to ask questions. Why is art so threatening? Who would find a theatre a danger enough for missiles? What’s going to become of the creatives, actors, writers, directors and audiences now?
I cannot write, but I still want to protest, to make my voice heard, to highlight what happens when art and theatre are stolen away. Maxine and I want to invite you, the audience, the 2529 people who booked, to be part of this experience, to be angry at this injustice.”
I was one of those who booked and wish to support Masoud by sharing his message!
For more: https://www.ahmedmasoud.co.uk/
Dema One: Nahla Ink Artist of the Month
This month Nahla Ink features the work of the Moroccan-Belgian artist Dema One, whose incredible visual pieces are currently on show at the P21 Gallery in a solo exhibition titled ‘REM’ which stands for ‘Resilience, Exile and Mutation’. I recently met with the tireless 47 year-old Dema – who specialises in graffiti with elements of Arabic calligraphy mixed with Latin letters to create the hybrid ‘Calligraffiti’ – and he explained how he has been painting murals throughout the world for the past 30 years, alongside live painting at festivals and organising youth workshops to spread a powerful message to youngsters that promotes the positive values of the hip hop movement and philosophy.
Another strong and recurrent theme that comes up in his projects – be they murals on walls, paintings on canvas, paper or even work on cling film – is the dilemma of living with mixed Eastern-Western identities and utilising poetry and storytelling to depict and further explore the notions of belonging, internal and external exile, resilience and idea of mutation.
Do watch this space for the full interview-feature article to be published on Nahla Ink.
For more information on Dema One: https://demaone.org/
For more on the REM exhibition: http://p21.gallery/exhibitions/resilience-exile-mutation/
Last But Not Least: Arab About London Events
As always, I end by referring you to the full ‘Arab About London’ listing that is regularly updated with MENA-inspired arts and culture events in London.
Do check on a weekly basis for the latest; and, if you wish to be in the super know, you can also follow me on Twitter @NahlaInk or on Facebook.
Best wishes to all!
Freelance Journalist + Blogger
London, July 2019