“Experience is the mind’s glasses”
Be at the heart of MENA’s creative industry at Dubai Lynx from 10-13 March 2013 to focus your mind on new ideas, expose yourself to the region's best work, connect with like-minded people and celebrate creativity. Register now for early bird Festival rate. Enter your best work into the Dubai Lynx Awards before 7 February 2013. www.dubailynx.com
In association with
CONTENTS Design Why move to Dubai?
A short history of bookbinding
Art Dubai 20 DXB Store 22 Design Days 24 Sikka 2013 26 Sam Island 30
Photography Juno Calypso 46 Mansoor Bhatti
Fashion Les Oiseaux 64 Henry Holland
Music Gayathri 84 Regal Beats 88 Toro Y Moi
Getting loose in Islamabad
Video Games Mind Geek 96 Jordan’s got game
Literature A struggle’s devolution
What’s not this month!
Salton Sea 108 Once and for all
Book Review 111 On My Shelf
Last Call Dubai. 1, Getting there.
quint magazine | issue 18 | March - April 2013 founded in 2010 by Zaina Shreidi & Gyula Deak
Editor in Chief
Zaina Shreidi email@example.com
This production and its entire contents are protected by copyright. No use or reprint (including disclosure) may be made of all or any part of this publication in any manner or form whatsoever without the prior written consent of quint. Views expressed in quint magazine do not necessarily represent the opinions of the editors or parent company. quint is a division and registered trademark of Prolab Digital LLC.
Deputy Editor Fares Bou Nassif firstname.lastname@example.org
Creative Director Gyula Deak email@example.com
Contact General firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising email@example.com HQ 4th Street, Al Quoz Prolab Digital warehouse po box 12256 | Dubai | UAE t: +971 4 380 5036 facebook.com/quintdubai twitter: @quintdubai www.quintmagazine.com www.quintdubai.com
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A FULL-DAY CREATIVE AND DESIGN CONFERENCE FEATURING VISIONARY TALKS IN THE FIELDS OF GRAPHIC DESIGN, ILLUSTRATION, PHOTOGRAPHY, FILM AND ANIMATION Featured speakers:
20 MARCH 2013
Centrepoint Theatre, Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre (DUCTAC) For more information, visit:
www.visualarabia.com Presenting Partner
Ross Gardiner is a fiction and humor writer from the Highlands of Scotland. Born in 1987 he lived in Scotland until 2008, when he decided to move east to Seoul, South Korea. He has travelled extensively around various parts of the world, carrying a keyboard, a coffee and a carton of smokes. Oh and he’s not on Facebook. You can find out more about his views on the topic on YouTube.
Growing up in Dubai among a labyrinth of highways and modern architecture that is constantly in flux, spawned my interest in city spaces and how we interpret them. After high school in Dubai I moved to London to do a Foundation Diploma at Chelsea College of Art and Design. This was then followed by a BA in Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins. London introduced me to the excitement of roads that meander, picnics and architecture conceived before the 70’s, among many other things of course. Most of my work has emerged from the dichotomy between these two places.
Trevor is drawn to the stranger things of life, and prefers to champion objective individualism, through the spirit of man and brain. You can hear his preaching on all things musicical and poetic. He has no awards to date, no accomplishments, no humour and no character as he finds them too mainstream. You may find him in the dark alleys and dank stairwells hangin’ with his jin and tonic.
Growing up, Jason was always carefully supervised whenever handling or playing with sharp objects. When he was told that he ‘had a sharp tongue’ confusion ensued, and young Jason became convinced that talking would cut off his fingers. He found comforting refuge in writing and video games, and now combines the two to produce interesting commentary on gaming and its influence on culture.
Iga Drobisz & Greg Adamski
This issue Tomas writes about Toro y Moi and put together an incredible quint mixtape for your listening pleasure! Tomas makes awesome music under his tongue-twister moniker Lizarazo, check out his tunes and support this up and coming musical man on iTunes and here: lizarazo.bandcamp.com
He still won’t talk.
Where LOVE meets PHOTOGRAPHY.
EVENTS INTERIORS EXHIBITIONS CANVASES PHOTOGRAPHS AND MORE
Prolab digital offers turnkey solutions for digital printing and signage fabrication services, aimed at facilitating your events, interiors, exhibitions, canvases, photographs and more. We offer quality at affordable prices.
tel: +971 4 347 7616 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
fax: +971 4 347 7181 web: www.prolabdigital.ae
We’ve had a crazy hectic start to the new year - but it’s been fun and we’re looking forward to so much over the next few months! We kicked off the year with a rebranding of our studio and preparation for quite a few quint events over the next few weeks. March is a huge month out here in Dubai - it kicks off for us with Dubai Lynx Advertising Fair, then Visual Arabia, followed by Sikka Art Fair, Design Days Dubai, and Art Dubai! A whirlwind indeed, but a very creative, artsy, fun one! Be sure to come by Sikka Art Fair where we will be hosting a bunch of fun events at our space on the rooftop of House 16 in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood. And have you noticed that we have a little something extra for you in this issue? We had the awesome opportunity to work with agency giant Y&R on a project that blends honest advertising for the city of Dubai with hands-on art and design. The team at Y&R scoured the city for oftenoverlooked signs of its tradition and culture, then produced one of a kind charcoal rubbings for a limited edition series of calendars. The design is monochrome, minimal, and perfectly complements our recent rebranding. Each month in the calendar faces one of the actual rubbings which you can remove, frame, and place on your wall - a reminder that there is more to this city than meets the eye. In this issue we’re giving you your very own two month calendar with a print of the canon charcoal rubbing on the back. We hope this keeps you organised and inspired throughout March and April! Along with our usual content, this issue we bring you a few guides on where to go and what to see during the many art events taking place this month. So keep your quint magazine handy, it’ll make you look cool when you’re carousing all those art parties!
The Standards Manual Vignelli is a legend among designers, and his most iconic work, by far, is the NYC subway map redesign in 1970. The Internet and a whole lot of luck give all of us who were ever like “why’s it such a big deal” the full thing to enjoy and examine. And, in many ways, it is The standards manual, not just the manual for the NYCTA.
GOOGLE POETICS Don’t know about you, but I find Google Search’s suggestion box hilarious at times. Every once in a while, somebody posts a screen cap on Tumblr, Facebook, or elsewhere that made them giggle. Now you can just go to Google Poetics and read them all. Albeit a bit on the romantic side, some are funny: “with my tongue in your tail, with my tongue in my cheek, with my baby tonight.” googlepoetics.com
CURIOUS RITUALS I’m not sure how to explain this. Definitely a curiosity. A free pdf of digital gestures, a product of two months of research in Pasadena. Would come in handy when working on something that requires an understanding of contemporary gestures, I guess. Regardless, fun observatory knowledge. And, yes, curious. I’m now going to go back to memorising the whole thing. http://coolmaterial.com/home/hal-9000-life-size-replica/
Palestine Writing Workshop
Public Service Announcement: sucks when you get mugged. Sucks worse when you get robbed. Want worse? When you is a place as giving and awesome as the Palestine Writing Workshop in Birzeit. Cleaned out. Except for their books, thankfully. Now PalFest’s Big Give Account is donating everything they get for a month from February 17 to them. Send them money. They are much nicer than any of us.
We previously featured Karim Hobeika’s amazing photographs of New York City and Paris, and we’re excited to announce that you can now bring those stunning images home! And considering these cities are larger than life, Karim will provide entire wall prints that will definitely transform your home or office. Check out his facebook page for more info!
BEAT UP CREATIONS - ANGELA ROSSI We absolutely love Angela Rossi’s Beat Up Creations. These antique modified plates are perfect for pretty much any occasion. Having the in-laws over for tea? They’ll love to see Pee Wee Herman grinning up at them from beneath the remnants of their pound cake! Friends over for dinner? Whip out Mr. T and a very well-dressed dinosaur and enjoy the lavish compliments on your quirky art sense. And just think at how happy you’re grandkids will be when you pass these on as heirlooms! http://www.beatupcreations.com
HAL 9000 When we saw this, we couldn’t believe our eyes. The possibility of having our very own HAL (from 2001: A Space Odyssey, duh) is creepy, but the geek points we’d get would be insane! This life-size replica of Kubrick’s chilling villain is built from the 1967 blueprints, so it’s totally authentic, and we’re pretty sure it’s guaranteed not to murder you - instead it will parrot lines from the movie for your entertainment. Ha! The tables have turned HAL, the tables have turned. http://coolmaterial.com/home/hal-9000-life-size-replica/
ARTISTS I MET AND LIKED NOTEBOOK - ARCHIE GRAND With Art Month taking over everyone’s calendars by storm, a great notebook will be essential. No matter how much technology takes over our lives, nothing trumps a handy, and stylish, notebook. We love Archie Grand’s clever, colourful notebooks, with titles ranging from “Artists I Met and Liked” to “Hipsters I Met and Liked” - truly something for everyone attending artsy events this March! http://shop.archiegrand.com/artists-i-met-and-liked--blank-journal-p-111-c-144.aspx
BUILD-ON BRICK MUG
3Doodler - Kickstarter
LEGO. We grew up with it (I did), and it’s been everywhere lately – most prominently with the pop culture riddle upgrade to LEGO’s “Imagine” campaign, by BRAD Montreal. Now Think Geek gives you a chance to bring the play to work with the mug that lets you unpack that building kit (not just LEGO) and show it off every few days (or everyday) with a new creation to sip your coffee or, for some, tea at work.
The latest from Kickstarter and the ubiquitous 3D printing technology: 3Doodler lets you create objects by drawing them out right in front of you, in thin air. Their words: “Have you ever just wished you could lift your pen off the paper and see your drawing become a real three dimensional object? Well now you can!” Just go to their page and make 3D printing not just a specialist thing.
http://www.kickstarter.com projects/1351910088/ 3doodler-the-worlds-first-3d-printing-pen
NINTENDO LAND FOR NINTENDO WII U Nintendo’s greatest game worlds in one giant theme park! Nintendo Land is a fun and lively virtual theme park filled with attractions based on popular Nintendo game worlds. Each attraction features unique and innovative gameplay experiences made possible by the Wii U GamePad controller. Depending on the attraction, players can choose to play solo, compete against other players, or even team up to play cooperatively. Up to five players can participate in dynamic multiplayer modes in select attractions. The experiences change depending on whether players are using the Wii U GamePad, a Wii Remote controller or just watching others play on the TV screen. However you choose to play, a whole new realm of fun awaits on the Wii U with Nintendo Land.
MONSTER TURBINE GOLD PRO EARPHONES Engineered for Pros and the Audio obsessed. You’ll get the clarity, detail, and dynamic range of the finest studio monitors or audiophile reference loudspeakers. With bass like a subwoofer in your ears, Monster Turbines accurately reproduce even the lowest bass note without distortion, delivering thunderous, yet clean sound. ControlTalk gives you in-line playback control, which means no more digging for your player when you want to change volume or tracks. You can even use ControlTalk for online voice or video chats on your Apple device.
TAKEN 2 Coming at a time when the action genre was dominated by shaky-cam Bourne editing shenanigans, 2008s Taken registered as a pleasantly streamlined surprise; a straight-ahead thriller where the clean, clear style both matched and accentuated Liam Neeson’s ruthless-blunt-object force. Set several years after the events of the first installment, the story finds Neeson’s black-ops professional losing ground with his beloved daughter (Maggie Grace), while forming a tentative rapprochement with his ex-wife (Famke Janssen). During a work trip in Istanbul, their family ties are sorely tested by the appearance of an army of villains with a particular score to settle. Directore Olivier Megaston (Transporter 3) digresses wildly from previous directore Pierre Morel’s no-nonsense approach, choosing instead to revel in over-the-top implausibilities. Neeson makes for the ideal Family Man of Action. When he gets going, prepare to feel a little sorry for the bad guys!
LES MISERABLES BY VICTOR HUGO
Bruno Mars Unorthodox Jukebox
It’s been sung and performed live on stage and is now playing in the big screens across the globe, but have you read the book that started fight for dreams, hope and love? Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1802-1885) was one of the most forceful, prolific and versatile of French 19th century writers. He wrote Romantic costume dramas, many volumes of lyrical and satirical verse, political and other journalism, criticism and several novels. The most famous of his works is Les Miserables (1862). Set against the backdrop of a political upheaval in 19th century France, its timeless appeal makes this classic a must read, even more so if you’ve seen it in the cinemas or theatre.
It’s better if you don’t understand; just listen and have a good time. That’s the typical response you would get from Bruno Mars when asked about his latest album Unorthodox Religion. Why talk about it when you can get the album from Virgin Megastore, play it, and sing along. The international singer and songwriter, Bruno Mars, is set to perform for the first time ever in the Middle East on April 12th at The Dubai Media City Amphitheatre. Tickets and CD are both available at Virgin Megastore, or you can also buy your tickets online by visiting www.virginmegastore.ae/tickets
Words by Fares Bou Nassif Before I start my 611 word rant on why I think Dubai can be considered something that relates to or is building itself towards becoming what Richard Florida might consider a creative city, I should start by pointing out that this is a rant. Not an article. I should also start by reminding everyone that I’ve only been to Dubai twice in the past 12 years: once two years ago, for a week, and another time two months ago, also for a week. While I lived in the UAE (mostly Abu Dhabi) growing up, and in Qatar for a couple of years between 2004 and 2007, I am not as familiar with the current state of the city in the sense that most of my readers would be. So, this rant will be the first of a multipart series on creativity in Dubai. It’s in the design section, because I consider design to be the catchall tongue-in-cheek term for creativity that is commercial, and because that’s just where I happen to write my regular article on creativity, but it’s not necessarily design-only. Then again, so many designers, design writers, and design educators always start with the disclaimer that their books contain more than just design subjects, since design relates to everything. So, in that sense, I’m not breaking away from the fold.
So, why am I moving to Dubai? Rant: Obviously, the money. I have made it a point so far in my career to pay zero consideration to income and just make do with what comes my way as long as I can do what I love doing, and that’s (somehow) worked well for me thus far. But things are changing, markets are shifting, and I’m at that point where stable pay is essential (also, I’m no longer 21). So, while I won’t go too far from what I love to do (in fact, I intend on sticking right on course), I do need to consider my financial situation a little more seriously. Obviously, I’m not the only one who’s doing that. Many creatives, cultural observers, journalists, or what have you who used to just scrape through are now not getting enough to cover their day to day costs and are considering higher paycheques. That doesn’t mean we’re selling out: we just need to pay the rent, and so we go where the money is. And, increasingly, the money is not in other major cities since there are just so many of us and so few jobs.
Still, we need to be in creative spaces to be creative (explanation not necessary). In a discussion I was having with a friend, she was explaining to me how uninspired and oppressive, restrictive, etc. the work in Dubai has always been. And I wanted to agree with her. But I don’t see it as staying that way. She’s convinced I’m wrong. And she’s been in Dubai for over five years, so I should listen to her, right? Maybe she does have a point, and a good one; I’m not one to judge without having tried it out first. But the way I see it, everywhere I’ve been looking lately, Dubai seems to be making an impression. Creatives are on the hunt for fresh spaces, and it makes sense that the artist types are more willing to venture out of their comfort zones than others. While Sao Paolo, Shanghai, Johannesburg, Sydney, and other such places are still hiring, so’s Dubai. And Dubai’s a lot closer to a lot more places, much more central, and sunny. Warm. Shorts and flip flops warm. My friend’s argument was that there aren’t enough talented people in Dubai, or the UAE. And I don’t exactly disagree. I’ve met a few, but they’re the exception, not the rule. If you look around at the quality of design (graphic, product, fashion...) in the city, it’s not exactly consistently great (then again, it isn’t really anywhere, but it gets pretty bad in Dubai). Still, those few are making a slight enough difference on a day to day basis that many who have lived there consistently wouldn’t notice but that I, as a visitor with two years between my visits, saw right away. There is a life brewing in that mirage that has been pretending for so long it’s actually getting closer to real. No, I don’t consider Dubai to be a city of exceptional freedoms. What I do see in it though is simple: there is a global migration happening as we speak, that intensified sometime in 2012, where talented people are being forced to consider moves to cities they wouldn’t have otherwise, and Dubai is attractive. This migration can actually be great news for the creative community. I’m betting on Dubai being a stronger city, creatively, because of it. I might be wrong. Whatever it turns out to be though, I’ll be keeping an eye out for exceptional work and talent as my days there get on, and I’ll keep you posted.
Like the careful crafting of a unique musical piece, printing is a fine art that can be tailored and delivered to meet the highest expectations. Possibilities are endless...
A Short History of
BOOKBINDING Words by Michelle Harvey
A quest for more information on bookbinding took me to Kinokuniya. This gargantuan book shop stocks more than half a million books and thousands of magazines in English, Arabic, Japanese, French, German, and Chinese. However, there are no books on bookbinding - neither historical nor instructional. There are many books on book design and innovation, layout design, and typography, but none on the physical making of a book. Ironically the only book that included some information on the history of different book binding techniques was called â€˜Book Art: Iconic Sculptures and Installations Made From Booksâ€™. This book featured book artists such as Georgia Russell who dissect books and re-present them as extravagant and ethereal sculptures, massively subverting the utilitarian function of a book.
In Arthur W. Johnson’s book on book binding, he gives a probable explanation as to why so little had been written on the construction of books until the 20th century. He suggests that bibliophiles had little or no knowledge on how a book was made despite being able to discuss its appearance in detail. On the other hand, craftsman could not write. Although this is of course not the case now, another dichotomy has arisen: books and technology. Of course everyone has their own opinion on this ubiquitous subject, however, if you are reading this article you are perhaps likely to be someone who values books for their tactile intimate qualities and a physicality of narrative that cannot be replicated virtually. So to give a little background on the history of bookbinding... In the fourth century AD, forms of written communication changed from scrolls and concertinas to flat folded sheets. As with many advents in book production, this one was driven by a desire to spread information (often religious) as efficiently and widely as possible. Indian Sutra’s were created by threading together palm leaves and Coptic Christians in Egypt sewed together folded vellum encased with wooden boards creating the earliest forms of what we recognise to be books. Butterfly binding gained popularity during the Song Dynasty (960 -1279 AD) in China. This type of binding is created by folding sheets of paper in half and stacking the folded sheets on top of one another. Paste would then be applied to the folded edge to form the spine. There were other variations on butterfly binding that involved the folded edge being on the outside and the cut edge being held together with screws at the spine. This overcame the problem of blank pages as each page would only be printed on one side and using this technique ensured that blank pages would remain inside the fold. The Ming period (1368–1644) saw advancements in thread binding as a way to circumvent the decay of books caused by insects attracted to the paste used in binding. In Japan the progress of book making was inherently linked to wood block printing Buddhist mantras and other religious documents. Advancements in paper making during The Edo period in Japan (1603 to 1868) paved the way for other religious publications to be more widely produced. The bible gained its name from the Phoenician city of Byblos where monks strived to provide an organised book form which was easy to navigate. Hence pagination was born, derived from the Latin ‘pagina’. It is interesting to note that Tibetan control of the Chinese Silk Road between 700 and 800 AD lead to many original developments in techniques. Restrictions on paper imports as well as other materials lead to an explosion of new designs independent and isolated from international trade. This included many variations on concertina, butterfly, and thread binding as well as creative combinations that reflected the styles and personalities of the binders with less trade based and more functionality based motives in mind. Although the motivations for bookbindings have entirely shifted, there is still a place for learning the craft today. A penchant for anything hand made and tactile drives my particular desire to make books. However, an appreciation of the marriage between aesthetic form and function is also pertinent. I am an avid collector of thoughts, happenings, lists, recipes, dreams, and words. It only seems right that the vessel for this information should in some way reflect the information itself. To take a quote from Book Art: ‘A book is a vessel for ideas...in this sense it unites artists, religions, governments, scientists, and everyday readers alike.’
Michelle Harvey holds a bi-monthly one day book binding workshop at The Archive in Safa Park. Dates: 4th and 18th of March Time: 10 am – 4 pm Fee: AED 50 per participant In Part I of the workshop you will learn how to make a small book with a card cover. In Part II of the workshop, there will be step by step instructions on how to align the pages, saddle stitch the sections together, cover the binding and finally fit and make the book cover. Each participant will take home their own book. For more information and details on the class please contact her at email@example.com
Campus Art Dubai session for artist 2013 Art Dubai
Ramin Haerizadh Not Yet Titled 2012
Tosani Patric Khaled 2002
PREVIEW BY FARES BOU NASSIF
ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER MARCH OF ART MADNESS SWEEPING THE CITY. SOME OF IT PRETENTIOUS, SOME OF IT NOT EVERYONE’S THING, BUT ALL OF IT ALL OVER THE PLACE. WITH SO MUCH GOING ON, IT’S HARD TO WEED OUT THE BEST OF THE PILE, AND I ALMOST GIVE UP EVERY YEAR. BUT, HERE YOU HAVE IT, THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SIX YEAR RUNNING STAR OF THE SHOW, ART DUBAI 2013:
Next up is a piece of pop-up fun that we cover more comprehensively right after this piece: the Mobile Art Gallery. It’s, essentially, a travelling pop-up gallery in a truck. Fun without the extras. One would hope it resembles something like Michael Alig’s truck parties, but I highly doubt it. Still, at least our fair residents who won’t make it to Art Dubai will still get a taste of the work.
As much as I find commissioned projects to be tedious, the general interactivity and space for collaboration that this year’s Artists in Residence (A.i.R) have with talent from across the global cultural landscape (a Nigerian Londoner, a Kuwaiti New Yorker, among others) is, at the very least (and I’m expecting more than the least), exciting stuff. Also, if you can’t wait till Art Dubai kicks off, drop by the A.i.R studios in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood for a look at their work, and possibly a chat with the artists and their curator, Bérénice Saliou.
I’m expecting good stuff here, and you should too. Start with A.i.R on your way to SIKKA, do the Sculptures on the Beach twice, and walk into at least one dXb store (maybe one where you know the designer to show a bit of support?). When you’ve done all that, check out The Hatch with some visiting friends, your partner, or just a bunch of wild hipsters. Just don’t go to any of them with a frown and nose two inches higher than your upper lip, and you’ll be fine.
Then there’s the three more entertainment less sombre art that you really don’t want to miss cause it’s more than just the art. The Hatch: film, video, and the Contemporary Image Collective out of Cairo, at The Pavilion Downtown; Sculpture On The Beach: the name says it all, Mina A’Salam beach, and at least you’re at the beach; dXb Store: a chance for each and every one of us to be a critic and maybe buy some locally designed, non-souk-artisan, actually good stuff.
Azim Al Ghussein First Love 2012 Illustration
Shamsa Al Omaira Win-win 2012 Wood, acrylic, wallpaper
Sharmeen Syed Perhaps I Have Spoken of [it] Under Other Names 2012 Digital collage/assemblage
ART DUBAI PROJECTS:
MOBILE ART GALLERY INTERVIEW BY ZAINA SHREIDI
AMONG THE MANY EXCITING PROJECTS HAPPENING AT ART DUBAI IS MOBILE ART GALLERY (MAG), THE CREATION OF CURATORS ISABELLA HUGHES AND ANGELLE SIYANG-LE. WE CAUGHT UP WITH ISABELLA AND ANGELLE FOR SOME INSIGHT INTO MAG, THE ARTISTS TAKING PART, AND WHAT WE CAN EXPECT FROM THIS INTERACTIVE PROJECT INSPIRED BY THE CITY OF DUBAI.
We’re very excited to check out Mobile Art Gallery (MAG) at this year’s Art Dubai! Can you tell us a bit about how the project came out, and why you’ve decided to start this initiative in Dubai?
Rania Jishi, Karim Mortada, Sharmeen Syed, and Sara Al Haddad. We selected the artists based on our previous encounters of their works and certainly their talents.
MAG: It is a contemporary society that we are living in and ‘mobility’ is a societal phenomenon. It is not only an approach to reach a broader range of arts audience for us, but also, it is a lifestyle. We understand the importance of enabling mobility and accessibility in order to gather artists, curators, art-professionals and the general public together. Dubai is known to be the hub of such cultural gatherings globally, and especially in the region; as a result, we feel an urge to encourage the level of mobility for future cultural development and interconnectivity.
Where can we expect to see MAG throughout Art Week?
With the title “The Nonfictional Fantasy”, what can we expect from these artists taking part in MAG? MAG: The theme is very much inspired by and dedicated to Dubai, as one of MAG’s objectives is to bring out the soul of the city through the exhibited artworks. We believe that one of the most essential roles as curators is to motivate the locally based artists to inspire audiences through their innate artistic experiences and observations. Working in various mediums, thematically, the works presented explore the role of escapism, fantasy, and need for reexamination in our everyday lives. Even more specifically, the various mediums represent the tone of voices from the artists and for some of them, how they speak about their interaction with Dubai as a fantasy of reality. We noticed Azim Al Ghussein (a good friend and previous quint intern) is one of the contemporary artists taking part in MAG, and we’re very excited to see such a great up and coming local artist taking part in this project. Are the other artists also locally-based? How did you go about selecting which artists will take part? MAG: Yes, all the artists of MAG are locally based, emerging artists, besides Azim, we are also exhibiting work by: Shamsa Al Omaira, Rami Farook,
MAG: We will be popping around town for 10 days (March 14-23) in our mobile, micro gallery, supported by Aramex at: Al Fahidi (SIKKA Art Fair), Madinat Jumeirah (Art Dubai), American University of Dubai, Alserkal Avenue Arts District, and Safa Park (Gate 5) Will this project only take part during Art Week this year, or is this something that will pop up throughout the year? MAG: It is a project of mobility and surprise! However we would like to dedicate the debut to Art Dubai, they are such a fantastic cultural innovator of the region. We couldn’t be more thrilled to debut as an Art Dubai Project and working with their great team! How can artists find out more about MAG and get involved in future editions of MAG? MAG: Art lovers are welcome to contact the curators, Isabella Ellaheh Hughes (isabella.e.hughes@ gmail.com) and Angelle Siyang-Le (angelle@ angellesiyangle.com) for future involvements with MAG. For information please visit MAG blog at mobileartgallery.tumblr.com To find out more about MAG and curators Isabella and Angelle visit: mobileartgallery.tumblr.com facebook.com/mobileartgalleryindubai www.isabellahughes.com/ www.angellesiyangle.com
How and when did it all begin? Where did the concept of dXb store start, and how was it developed to what it is now?
ONE OF OUR FAVOURITE ART MONTH INSTALLATIONS IS DXB STORE. EVERY TIME WE COME ACROSS THIS BRILLIANT POPUP WE GET ALL GIDDY FOR A FEW REASONS: FIRSTLY, WHO DOESN’T LOVE GOING ON A MINISHOPPING SPREE IN BETWEEN RUNNING FROM EVENT TO EXHIBITION TO OPENING TO PARTY?, SECOND, SPENDING ALL THAT CASH FEELS GOOD WHEN WE KNOW IT’S IN SUPPORT OF LOCAL ARTISTS, AND THREE - WE GET SUCH PRETTY THINGS! WE CAUGHT UP WITH TIMA OUZDEN, CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF DXB STORE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT EVERYONE’S FAVOURITE POP-UP SHOP, THE ARTISTS TAKING PART THIS YEAR, AND WHERE WE CAN FIND THEM THROUGHOUT ART MONTH.
The concept was born out of a many conversations at Art Dubai and among friends of the fair. The idea was to introduce unique products that were usually available at galleries or niche retail outlets to a wider audience at the fair and to showcase the talent of locally based emerging and established designers. I had been involved in the arts and design community for number of years and as I was co-coordinating Projects at Art Dubai 2011, I became involved in launch of dXb store. We reached out to designers and artists and invited them to take part in the inaugural pop–up .The following year we announced an Open Call and which invited to submission of proposals to a jury panel for review; the Open Call proved to be a great tool in unearthing new talent and encouraging established designers and artists to take their practice in a new direction. Tell us about the designers you’ve represented - are they at the beginning of their careers? Are they all locally based? We receive a great deal of interest from designers abroad wanting to participate, however dXb store is UAE-centric, its purpose is to unearth, champion and showcase local talent, including Emiratis and residents of UAE.The demographics of participants vary: some of them are first time designers, others are mid way through their career. Many are aspiring designers who are quite accomplished in their day jobs, but nursing a dream of being a designer. dXb store is a great launching pad for those willing to take the plunge and showcase their work to an international and local audience.
from previous years. dXb store is usually a pop-up during Art Week any possibility we’ll see more of dXb store moving forward? At the moment we are focusing on being present during Art Week and working on a year round programming, which will involve mentorship and workshops. We have been invited to pop up at various locations, both locally and internationally and are be considering this expansion in the future. How can designers get involved in dXb store? Designers can get involved by submitting their proposals during the Open Call. They can also reach out to me with any questions and be added to the Art Dubai database to receive Open Call announcement and other updates. What sort of products do you look to include and how do you maintain the quality of work? We hear you’re involved in various events throughout March - where can people visit dXb store? We look for products with a right balance of creativity and function. Quality is something very important in product design, which we ensure by asking selected designers to submit their prototypes. We also guide designers as much as we can through their sampling and production process, which at times can be very challenging. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Tima Ouzden, Creative Director
What types of products are sold through dXb store?
To find out more about dXb store, visit and follow:
Artist’s multiples, stationary, books, jewelry, T-shirts, furniture, toys, home décor and accessories to name a few. The third edition of the dXb Store marks the launch of dXb classics – a collection of favorite products
www.artdubai.ae/dxbstore facebook.com/dxbstore Twitter @dxbstore Instagram @dxbstore Pinterest @dxbstore
dXb store The leading platform for UAE-based emerging and established designers Showcasing limited-edition objects, artistsâ€™ multiples and jewellery, created in the UAE March 14-24, 2013: SIKKA, Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood www.sikka.ae March 18-21, 2013: Design Days Dubai, Downtown Dubai www.designdaysdubai.ae March 20-23, 2013: Art Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah www.artdubai.ae
Participants: Sehyr Ahmad x Rasha Alkhatib x Rawaan Alkhatib x Sara Jassim Al Arif x Adnan Arif x Canvas Magazine x Caravan x Ayang Cempaka x Ola Dajani x FN Designs x Amal Haliq x HKD by Farah Nasri x Julia Ibbini x Masataka Ito x Mubarik Jafery x Nadine Kanso x Nada Khalid x Nisreen Krimed x LoNa x Lubna Mobied & Amar Abu Zahr x Mobius Studio x Khalid Mezaina x Nasir Nasrallah x OTT x Wafa Khalifa AlQasaimi x Ali Rahman Khan x Nayla Romanos Iliya x Ali Rouhani x Yusra Shaher x SOUGHA x Tashkeel x Kate Toledo x Alifiyah Vali x we.raq x WTD Magazine
Sufi 3 - Contemporary Art Platform
AS DUBAI IS IN A STATE OF GROWTH, WE ARE WITNESS TO A NUMBER OF FIRSTS. THE PAST FEW YEARS HAVE BEEN PARTICULARLY EXCITED IF ONLY FOR THE PACE AT WHICH CULTURAL EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES HAVE SPRUNG UP. WE’VE ENJOYED ART DUBAI FOR SOME YEARS NOW, AND THEN SIKKA ART FAIR, BUT LAST YEAR SAW THE BEGINNING OF AN ART FAIR THAT INTRODUCED FUNCTIONALITY ALONGSIDE BEAUTY AND CREATIVITY. DESIGN DAYS DUBAI IS A FOUR DAY FAIR THAT BRINGS TOGETHER THE FINEST DESIGN PIECES THE WORLD HAS TO OFFER FROM LOCAL, REGIONAL, AND INTERNATIONAL GALLERIES. ARTISTS AND COLLECTIVES TAKE A PARTICULAR INTEREST AS THIS IS A RELATIVELY NEW MARKET, AND A NEW PLATFORM WHICH THEY HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE THEIR OWN. WE LITERALLY OOH’D AND AAH’D AT LAST YEAR’S FAIR, AND OUR SNEAK PREVIEW OF THIS YEAR’S GALLERIES HAVE US EAGERLY AWAITING THE SECOND EDITION OF DESIGN DAYS DUBAI.
Humans Since 1982 - Victor Hunt
Apoldanap - J+A Gallery
FAIR DIRECTOR CYRIL ZAMMIT’S ENTHUSIASM FOR THE DESIGN INDUSTRY IS OBVIOUS AND INFECTIOUS, AND WE HAVE KEPT TABS ON HIS TRAVELS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR – JETSETTING AROUND THE WORLD SEEKING THE BEST OF THE BEST TO BRING BACK TO HIS ADOPTED HOME. AND FROM WHAT WE CAN SEE, HE’S DONE AN AMAZING JOB. Jari - _Croft
THE PIECES RANGE IN STYLE, PURPOSE, AND PRICE – WITH ARTISTS AND GALLERIES SPANNING THE CONTINENT THE WORK PRESENTED AT THIS YEAR’S DESIGN DAYS DUBAI IS DIVERSE, GLOBAL, AND ENGAGING. YOUNG COLLECTORS ARE ENCOURAGED TO INVEST IN THEIR FIRST PIECES, WITH A SELECTION OF INCREDIBLE (YET AFFORDABLE) WORKS OF ART ON OFFER. WE HAD A QUICK CHAT WITH THREE GALLERIES WE’RE PARTICULARLY EXCITED TO SEE AT THE FAIR, ART FACTUM (BEIRUT), CARPENTERS WORKSHOP GALLERY (PARIS & LONDON), AND STILWERK LIMITED EDITION DESIGN GALLERY (HAMBURG). BE SURE TO VISIT DESIGN DAYS DUBAI THIS YEAR FROM 18 – 21 MARCH IN DOWNTOWN DUBAI.
Trumeau-bar “Architettura” Twentytwentyone Gallery
JOY MARDINI, FOUNDER-DIRECTOR
You aim to spread “the artistic message onto the masses” by bringing international artists to Beirut and bringing your artists to the forefront of the international art scenes. Communicating with the masses can be very difficult especially with regards to contemporary art. What has the reception been like among the general public? For the past year and a half (the gallery opened in Dec 2011) the reception of the gallery’s activity has been very interesting and satisfactory. The gallery’s been featured in a number of magazines, local and international, online and in print. Visitors range in age from the early twenties to late eighties. Although the gallery was visited by a number of students, we regret that art and art activities, especially in galleries, remain an elitist’s thing. Considering the shroud of conflict that regularly plagues Beirut, do you feel that your artists are expected to produce work related to these issues? In other words, are they put into a box with certain expectations placed on them due to location and nationality? Of course not. In the past 15 years of artistic production, the Lebanese art scene has witnessed two trends: the generation that are children of the civil war (35-40 years old now) usually produce works related to the regional conflict. The younger generation on the contrary tried to go away from this war theme. The relation to the city, namely Beirut, is still a very prominent subject. The local audience newly tends to be more and more attracted by the international art scene. The collectors are more and more going towards a mix of international and Lebanese art. Its really not a matter of subject. It’s a matter of heart. What do you look for in up and coming artists and designers to represent in your gallery? I look first of all for something I like, something I’d love to have in my living room. Then I look for artists that would break the trends. Artists that would make a difference. Artists and designers that I believe could make a great carrier. That could one day be part of international auction catalogues, museum collections, and so forth.
CARPENTERS WORKSHOP GALLERY AURÉLIE JULIEN, GALLERY DIRECTOR
What is your favourite piece from the collection to be exhibited at Design Days Dubai? Is it a favourite over all, or something you felt would appeal to the Middle Eastern market? I love all the pieces on our booth hopefully, but maybe I feel closer to Johanna Grawunder’s Corner light piece. And in general…we do not propose pieces for Middle Eastern market in particular, the idea being to show what we are doing at the gallery, so we really want to show as much as possible from the gallery’s works and artists. We absolutely love the Taj Mahal Table and Eiffel Tower Lamp - which I’m sure are very popular pieces. I noticed that they are Studio Jobs. Can you tell us more about them? At the moment, the Studio Job is interested in working on different pieces making references to historical architectural masterpieces. So in the collection we also have Chartres. How involved are you, as a gallery, in the creative process of the designers and artists?
STILWERK DESIGN GALLERY
DR. ANGELIKA MAUPILÉ, GALLERY MANAGER
What are some of the main things you took into consideration when curating the collection to be exhibited at Design Days Dubai? All our design objects we exhibit at Design Days Dubai are of premium quality. We show a range of outstanding designer pieces by both established and up-and-coming designers including Oskar Zieta, Studio Besau-Marguerre, Elisa Strozyk, Sebastian Herkner and sgroll/ vidal. All these pieces focus on the essence of their own materiality and its transformation. Two-dimensional photographs are transformed into three-dimensional objects, sheet steel is ‘inflated’ and used as seating, wood becomes a ductile surface, and copper and marble are reinterpreted. Classic materials are transformed to create exceptional and unique furnishings and objects. When selecting pieces for your gallery - is the functionality of the piece important, or are you more interested in pieces that are appealing and artistic for the sake of it, regardless of their purpose (or lack thereof)?
The gallery is involved from the beginning to the end of the process, so it means by choosing with the artist which of his projects will be produced and then following up with and controlling the production with the artist so both of us are happy with the finishing. Then we sell the piece to our collectors.
We consider always both: functionality and artistic shape. On the one hand it is important that a design object is functional – that is the difference to an artwork. On the other hand we present unique products, prototypes and limited editions of designers, architects, and artists to collectors and not to buyers of ordinary furniture. Our gallery works are at the interface between art and design.
We are the producer of almost all the pieces we are presenting at the gallery.
What advice do you have for young collectors, or people looking to invest in their first piece? It is always important that you love the piece you buy. You can never tell if the object will maintain its value over the years. But if you buy a beautiful piece in a limited edition, you will have an emotional benefit and a financial value
SIKKA 2013 WORDS BY ZAINA SHREIDI
Year after year, March (aka Dubai’s Art Month) comes upon us in a flurry. We rush from one side of town to the other to try and fit in all the events, showcases, exhibitions, workshops, and discussions, and we usually don’t manage to see and do it all. But this year, we’re immersing ourselves - this year will be the year we see and do it all! Art Month Challenge - ACCEPTED. We were very lucky to be selected to take part in Sikka Art Fair alongside 13 other initiatives (up from what they predicted would only be five!). So in the flurry of preparation for all the happenings in March, we’re preparing for our very own events, discussions, and workshops. We’re excited to introduce you to these awesome initiatives, and we suggest that you do whatever it takes - use up your leave days, call in sick, or play hookie - and come down to Sikka Art Fair for ten days of artistic integrity, exciting projects, and a group of people who leave glitz and glamour behind to create work that is worth being a part of.
QUINT EVENTS AT SIKKA ART FAIR INCLUDE: Discussion: Citizen Curators Art Bank Exhibition and Auction Discussion: Being a designer in the UAE quint Design Duels Discussion: All Things Interactive Workshop: Vinyl Culture and the Art of DJing (lead by Break DJ Lobito) Discussion: The Importance of Self-Awareness and Never Being Satisfied Follow us for updates and more details! facebook.com/quintdubai twitter.com/quintdubai
I LOVE UAE
Brusselssprout is an independent curatorial magazine based in Dubai that focuses on developing socio-cultural action and thought. Brusselssprout has worked on several local projects such as Dubai Manifesto, Graphic Encyclopedia and recently on Dubai Art World Cartography.
Iloveuae, the virtual ambassador is a portal developed to promote Emirati citizens, businesses, products and events to the region and the rest of the world. It aims to help develop as many Emiratis as possible through showcasing and promoting their work.
Brusselsprouts presents an interactive exhibition of the various archives of the UAE contemporary artist Mohammed Kazem. The metadata will include newspapers, writers, topics and an exhibition treatise of the artist.
DRAWDECK Drawdeck is an online platform that allows creative drawing to be showcased and discovered on a global scale. It aims to generate a creative community of graphic designers, artists to anyone who likes to doodle. Drawdeck will launch ‘DrawLAB’ during Sikka to encourage Dubai’s creative community and SIKKA audience into making drawing more interactive and receive the recognition it deserves. Participants will have the chance to hang out in a fun atmosphere, socialize, draw and later upload their work on Drawdeck.com, which will be archived and made available to a global online audience.
Iloveuae exhibits a range of Emirati products from handcraft items, to clothes, books as well as DVDs of locally produced short films. The house also includes a digital media section where visitors can play video games and interactive game applications created by local programmers.
LOCI ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN LOCI is a culturally driven design studio with a vision to protect and sustain the city’s identity and architectural integrity. With a collaborative and inclusive studio philosophy, the LOCI team continually strives to deliver designs that translate traditional architectural elements and planning principles into timeless space, form and material. LOCI developed an interactive outdoor installation that aims to connect with the public. Focused on the buried and unseen heritage of the Al Fahidi neighborhood, it is made up of multiple abstract coral reef structures engraved with intricate designs that range from coral patterns to Islamic art.
MOBIUS DESIGN STUDIO
Mobius is a studio of design enthusiasts who have a long-standing passion for print design and typography. It is in constant pursuit for researching new printing methods, diverse materials, and special techniques to deliver tactile, innovative, and communicative work. The studio has produced work for Design Matters and Abu Dhabi Art, Six Degrees for the American University of Sharjah, Treasures of the world culture and Second Time Around for the UAE pavilion at the Venice Biennial.
The Culturist is an independent blog that offers a unique voice in the cultural sphere of Dubai and the region. It contains visually stimulating images, videos and sounds. It also aims to showcase creative talent and inspire its readers.
Mobius offers a design space at SIKKA for people to be inspired and stimulated. The collective will present an extensive workshop programme in book binding, typography, pattern making, stamp making and character design, to mention a few.
TASMENA Tasmena is an international not-for-profit association that develops place-specific design solutions for sustainable urban living. Tasmena hopes to create an impact on contemporary design, research, education and policy-making through laboratories, workshops, competitions, forums, publications and exhibitions. Tasmena presents a multi-platform initiative during Sikka to promote open, critical, crosscultural dialogue and collaboration between students, educators and professionals. It will host a series of walks around the Al Fahidi neighborhood, talks on the history of the Al Khor area as well as game events.
The Culturist will create an offline experiential transformation of its blog in a space that will allow visitors to interact with each other. The space will cover major themes from the blog such as a film screening room, a 1980s room, a travel room and an all-Emirati section of ideas and products.
THE GLOBAL YOUTH EMPOWERING MOVEMENT (GYEM) Launched in 2009, the Global Youth Empowering Movement (GYEM) is a community youth center that spearheaded local projects such as the Tunnel for Hope, Green Santa and join forces with the annual Terry Fox Run. It aims to unify the young generations by providing a nurturing environment for self-discovery and encouraging crosscollaboration for innovation and creative thinking. GYEM will host ‘open mic’ nights as well as deepening sessions where the audience is invited to debate about worldly as well as individual matters and topical concerns. Also, the group will hold screenings of educational documentaries, ‘Beautiful Losers’ and ‘Helvetica’, amongst others.
THE ANIMATION CHAMBER
THE NBX PROJECT
The Animation Chamber is a newly formed collective of animators and illustrators that aim to educate and teach the multi-dimensional world of animation. Its members come from diverse backgrounds and have all attended animation and puppetry workshops, volunteered at international festivals, and created short animated films.
The Nomad Box Project is the brainchild of two entrepreneurs that created moving art spaces, known as the “Five Art Beats’ project, in areas such as the Dubai International Financial Center and Jumeirah Beach Residences.
The Animation Chamber offers an initiative that will transform its space into an interactive laboratory and takes the visitor on a journey into the different stages of animation. It will offer workshops during all ten days of the fair in light animation, pixilation, character design and much more.
THE BOOK SHELTER The Book Shelter is a local initiative that focuses on making books accessible to the public- free of cost. It strives to create the largest free library in the world by sourcing books through donations from the community and creating a sustainable project that recycles, promotes reading, and strengthens the reading culture in the U.A.E. The collective has previously launched two free libraries in Maraya Art Centre and the Thalassemia center in Latifa hospital. The Book Shelter will present a theatrical piece and performing arts, which joins the Middle Eastern tradition of the ‘Hakawati’ and the Japanese ‘Kamishibai’ form of story-telling by having the narrator cycle around the fair and engage with the public. Additionally, the collective will transform their space into a sensory narrative experience of the book ‘The Secret Garden’.
The NBX project will display a large shipping container at the fair to create a dynamic space and medium for showcase. Four artists will collaborate together and paint on the exterior walls of the container, which will be used as a unique multidimensional canvas.
THE POETICIANS Established in 2007, The Poeticians is a group of writers that have come together to share their thoughts and ambitions with a small intimate audience in Beirut and Dubai, where they perform monthly readings. They have performed over 30 events to different audiences in both English and Arabic. The group aims to support and encourage writing and poetry through spoken word events, mentoring and workshops. ‘Nowhere Near a Damn Rainbow’ is their first anthology. The Poeticians will hold a series of poetry workshops, readings and Haiku walks for groups of all ages across the fair.
THE STATE Founded in 2011, THE STATE is a quarterly print journal and publishing collective that covers pressing matters in society, culture and technology. The founders have previously collaborated on Evolving Spaces, a book tracing the cultural history of Al Quoz, and barzakh, an urban research collective. The fourth issue will be launched concurrently with Sikka and their future plans include two fiction-based projects. The State will hold a specialized discussion panel about the concept of Dubai in a socio-cultural and artistic framework. It will also dedicate a curated capsule library, inspired by India’s public reading rooms also known as Vayanasala. The room will include periodicals, newspapers and books.
Sam Island INTERVIEW BY ZAINA SHREIDI
SAM ISLAND, AN ILLUSTRATOR BASED IN TORONTO, CANADA, HAS BEEN RECEIVING GREAT ACCLAIM FOR HIS CLEAN, BRIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS FOR PUBLICATIONS LIKE THE NEW YORKER AND BLOOMBERG VIEW. HIS WORK INJECTS A BIT OF FUN AND LIGHTNESS AMONG THE COLUMN INCHES, WHILE STILL DEDICATING TIME TO EXPLORING HIS OWN PERSONALITY THROUGH HIS SKETCHES. DOWN TO EARTH, AND WITH A STRAIGHT FORWARD APPROACH TO WHAT HE DOE AND HOW HE DOES IT, SAM IS DOING IT PROPERLY - BRINGING HIS WORK TO WHERE PEOPLE WILL SEE IT, FORGING NEW STYLES AND IDEAS IN HIS SKETCHBOOK, AND SHARING HIS CREATED WORLDS THROUGH HIS BLOG (WHICH IS PRETTY MUCH THE BEST THING EVER). WE SPENT AGES GOING THROUGH HIS SKETCHES, HE HAS THE ABILITY TO BRING OUT THAT KID IN YOU WHO LAUGHS OUT LOUD (NOT JUST ‘LOL’S) AT COMICS AND WISHES THE WORLD WAS AS FUN AND UNEXPECTED AS SAM’S DRAWINGS.
You’ve managed to achieve something many only dream about - doing what you love for a living. But since you’re getting paid to illustrate all day - do you still find time to have fun with your work off the clock? I do. I try to start each day by sketching in my sketchbook. Most of what I do there ends up on my tumblr (samisland.tumblr.com). That’s the fun part of what I do. I try to just draw without thinking about doing anything specific, just let the image come together spontaneously. When I’m working on commissioned images I try to do the same thing. All the sketching I do helps me become a better illustrator. Have you always been working as an illustrator? Was this something you always knew you wanted to do or the result of a journey through other professions? I’ve always been an illustrator. I went to school for illustration and it’s always been my goal. Getting paid to draw was all I ever wanted to do. What is your work environment like? Is it built around how you like to work? My work environment is very simple. My work is also very simple. I have a small studio space in my home. Just a simple room with a desk and computer. I like to work in a room without distractions, it helps me concentrate. I like my work to show only what is necessary to express the idea and my work environment is very much the same. It’s reduced to just the things I need to create, nothing else really. As a freelancer who works from home, how do you manage to keep things on track throughout the day? Do you avoid distractions or welcome them in order to spur you on creatively? I keep a very strict work schedule. If I can I stop working by 5pm, I do. I also have specific times I like to take my dog for a walk. So I avoid distractions as much as possible in order to get my work done in the time I give myself. While it’s not a distraction, taking my dog for a walk has often helped me come up with good ideas. It’s a great way to let your mind wander. I’m in no rush, just enjoying the fresh and air and thinking about my current project. Ideas often come to me this way. We love your editorial illustrations - and we’re clearly not the only ones. How did your stint as a regular contributor to the likes of The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Bloomberg View begin? Do you enjoy creative freedom when working with your clients? I have been extremely lucky to get to work with such amazing clients. I got my first assignment with Bloomberg View by a recommendation from another illustrator. From there I emailed a handful of Art Directors and fortunately got a couple jobs from that. Since then, the majority of my clients have called on me to do work for them many times this past year. I do have creative freedom with my clients, of course the image has to connect and express the idea of the article but within that I can go in directions that allow me to use imagery that is personally significant to me. What was your favourite editorial project thus far?
So far it has to be the illustration I did for the New York Times Op-Ed about new information that points to a fallacy between the link of obesity and death. I was able to draw the character Death in a fat suit and it doesn’t get much better than that. It was the first job I got in 2013 and started the year off wonderfully. Your illustrations seem to focus mainly on social interactions, with your personal work getting a little more wild, loose, and strange. Do you look around you and express your reactions through your work, or are all the weird and wonderful scenarios you sketch from a world inside your head? The stuff I sketch is mostly from inside my head. I don’t think too much about what I’m sketching. I just know if it pleases me, I’m not concerned with what anyone else might think of it. It’s just for fun and it’s unfiltered. How did you forge your style and make it into a career?
I think consistency is extremely important for an artist’s commercial portfolio but when it comes to personal work and what you don’t show the world, experimenting is the number one thing to do. I practice this with my work. I do lots of images that I don’t show in my portfolio. Images that are nothing more than experiments, testing ideas, and ways of drawing. It’s by doing the experiments that an artist can find a style that they can market to potential clients. Are you working on any personal projects at the moment? I am, right now it’s all about my sketchbook. I’m interested in going deeper into my own personality and trying to get that on the page. That is my current project. I also have a book idea that I hope to get to down the road. But for now I’m just trying to become a better visual communicator. It’s one project at a time for me.
When I was very young I wanted to do comics. As I got older I learned that was very similar to illustration and that you could make a living drawing single images for clients. From that point on I became focused on becoming a professional illustrator.
Follow Sam on twitter, and check out his website and blog for more of his awesome work!
Do you think consistency is important or should artists regularly experiment with their style? Do you practice this with your own work?
samislandart.com twitter.com/samislandart samisland.tumblr.com
Arteberry & 133 Art Gallery present for the first time in Dubai
Massimo Balestrini Keep Going
Every monday till 10 pm. Come and meet our art. DMC building 8, Unit 218 RSVP +971 566 94 95 65, +971 505 57 98 50 email@example.com Presenting a new artist every two months, exclusively for Dubai
Interview by Zaina Shreidi
British photographer Juno Calypso, has the ability to make you laugh and launch into discussions about modern feminism with her perfectly constructed large-format self-portraits. Juno’s alter ego Joyce stares dully back at you from mundane situations – her face caked in make up, her eyes glossed over. We love Joyce, we feel for her, but we also pity her – no one wants to live in a pastel prison. Even the cakes and sweets lay around untouched – preserved and sculpted to perfection, just like poor Joyce. But Juno’s message is far from superficial as she tackles the pressures of womanhood and femininity. She says it best: “Trapped inside pastel coloured, disconcerting moments of ritualised absurdity--Juno Calypso’s alter-ego mirrors the exhaustion felt whilst bearing the dead weight of constructed femininity.”
Your work explores femininity and feminism - and it seems like perceptions and societal pressure can force a woman to choose between the two. Your alter-ego Joyce chooses femininity and suffers as a result. Why did you choose this subject as the focus of your work? Did you experience this exhaustion or pressure yourself? Yes it’s definitely something I’ve experienced myself, especially as a teenager and a young adult I have distinct memories of feeling trapped and exhausted by the aesthetic standards I had set myself. I think we put the pressure on ourselves to look our best at all times, and the more we add to that, the heavier the weight of it becomes - the sticky fake eyelashes, thick weaves of someone else’s hair, layers of lotions and powders and heady perfumes. It’s a tiring procedure but it’s difficult to resist. When I began the work I didn’t interpret it in this way, for me it was just a playful performance - dolling myself up and sulking into the camera. But after the first series I spent a lot of time in The Women’s Library in East London, and I came across books like The Feminine Mystique, Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and Femininity by Susan Brownmiller, and that’s when I felt relief that they had put my thoughts into words and that this was a shared feeling amongst women. It seems like Joyce chose being admired physically over being respected professionally. Why do you think Joyce - and the women she represents - choose to live in pastel prisons over pursuing less seemingly glamorous professions, interests, or lifestyles? In my head I imagine she probably does have a respected profession and important interests, but what we see in the images is what overrides all of that - her pursuit into attaining visual perfection and the practice of seduction. It’s all we see of her because sometimes it can feel like that as a woman - no matter what you achieve you will be probably always end up being judged on your looks. How close is your personality to Joyce’s? Do you ever indulge or find pleasure in decadence and artificiality? Her personality is a hyper-exaggeration of my own. I think I relate more to the expression on her face than her lifestyle - I have a lazy eye and a naturally sullen look about me, but i’ve managed to use these features to represent a shared feeling and hopefully to make people laugh. In terms of decadence and artificiality, I’ve stripped away a lot of that over the years. I used to feel like I couldn’t leave the house without make up and I’m glad those days are behind me. Artificiality is at it’s worst when you feel you have no choice. Now that it’s a choice when I wan’t to indulge in fake tan and fake hair, it’s a lot more pleasurable and less less anxiety-ridden than before.
Your photographs are both conceptually strong as well as technically professional, even the set design is flawless. Did you have experience in commercial photography? If so, did this experience enhance the way you expressed your message? Thank you, i’m glad they come across that way. Previously I wanted to be a fashion and beauty photographer, so I think that had an impact on the way I work. I spent two years on a photography course in Leeds which was quite a commercial course, and so I learnt a lot of my technique there. After that I finished my degree at LCC in London, they were much more concerned with critical thinking and the photograph as art. I’m very grateful for having both types of training. I find it funny to use a glossy magazine style of photography but to then have a really depressed, gargoyle-like girl glaring back at you rather than a model. Joyce and her surroundings seem to recall the 50’s and 60���s. Why have you chosen this era’s look and feel to express your take on these issues? I like to keep the era ambiguous and never deliberately try to replicate a certain time. Some people interpret it as the 80s whereas others see it as the 50s and I enjoy keeping it that way. It gives me a lot of props to play with, but it also shows the history and the longevity of the modern woman’s struggle with femininity. Do you feel that the modern rituals women go through to appear beautiful or to be accepted are somehow setting us back as a gender? It’s certainly wasting a lot of our time. I’ve heard so many girls, including myself, moaning about how it takes them hours to get ready to go out or leave the house. And you wonder what do we actually get out of it? There’s nothing tangible. What do you get - a few people saying, you look nice, and then we go home and take it all off. Financially I’d be a great deal better off if I didn’t have a make-up bag and bathroom cabinet to feed each month. There is of course, a lot more holding women back than the hours we spend trying to look nice, but it’s a significant part of it. The situations depicted in your photographs are immediately amusing - but on second look they are slightly disturbing. We laugh because we recognise the humour in placing such importance on ridiculous rituals, but at the same time we know that these plastic worlds still do cage women. What sort of message do you want your viewer to take with them? Do you aim to create this sort of discomfort? I don’t tend to think about making the viewer uncomfortable when I’m making the work, it’s usually when i’m editing that I realise that I’ve made something somewhat disturbing. I’d like a viewer to enjoy the
images visually, to take in all the details, and to laugh at what they see but also at themselves and perhaps feel relief that the joke is finally upon the private rituals that we often take too seriously. Did you always intend to cast yourself as Joyce? Why did you choose to do so? No not at all. It was an accidental casting. I had planned to use models for a project, and I was in the studio one night and got dressed up in the costumes they were supposed to wear and photographed myself to test out the lighting. I was on my own and entertained myself by pulling faces into the camera and clowning around, trying to look overly seductive or bored. When I showed the images to my class the next day it provoked a really interesting reaction, people laughed and I realised it was more interesting to use myself in this way than to do what I would have usually done before - used a very beautiful model and just set out to make her look as flawless and alluring as possible. What are you currently working on? Can we expect to see more of Joyce? I’m currently shooting a new project, with the same character, but out on location in Malta. So it’s a sort of holiday for the character but it’s also opened up some really visually exciting locations. The way bedrooms are decorated here is perfect for my work, traditional maltese decor is very 1970s so I’ve been traveling around with a bag of wigs and costumes shooting in as many locations as I can. This new series will be exhibited in a show in London in May, which will be announced on my website soon. Upcoming exhibition: F.A.M.E. Motorship Stubnitz, London. 25-28th April 2013 Follow Juno on Instagram @junocalypso and check out more of her work at: www.junocalypso.com junocalypso.tumblr.com
IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN HIS ALLURING PHOTOGRAPHY, YOU SHOULD. MANSOOR BHATTI, DESIGNER, PHOTOGRAPHER, VISUAL GENIUS, AND SOON TO BE AUTHOR OF HIS FIRST BOOK TYPE & FACE, IS THE ONE-MAN CREATIVE POWERHOUSE WHO KNOWS PRODUCING GOOD WORK REQUIRES LOVE, ENERGY, AND UNENDING CURIOSITY. WITH TYPE & FACE COMING OUT SOON, WE CAUGHT UP WITH MANSOOR TO DISCUSS HIS PASSION FOR VISUAL ART, AS WELL AS GET INSIGHT AND ADVICE FOR THOSE WHO DARE JUMP OFF THE DEEP END INTO THE ALL-CONSUMING WORLD OF AESTHETIC EXPRESSION.
Interview by Zaina Shreidi
Let’s start at the beginning. How did you become this awesomely creative person? What came first - design or photography? When and how? Well thats a question I can’t really answer. But I do remember I was writing novels, designing handmade greeting cards, creating handmade art, and collecting fashion images since the age of 8. Design came first in order. Are you interested in or involved in any other forms of art? Yes, music. I have played guitar in a band for 6 years and have produced two music albums. We’re in awe, not only of the quality, but also the quantity of your work! How do you keep your work fresh when you produce so much? Since I started photography three years ago there hasn’t been a single day when I didn’t carry my camera. I say, to be a photographer you have to be two things: 1. An opportunist and 2. Shameless. I never left an opportunity to be honest. I’ve shot before going to work, during lunch hours and late at night, and sometimes on the way home. I have skipped days at the beach, parties on weekends, shopping in malls, going out with friends to be able to do this. Is producing work as often as possible something that is key to your working style? I love to create and that’s where I find my joy. I don’t know if I would call it a style but working most of the time gives me pleasure. I don’t think it’s intentional or forced though but something I find quite natural in me. It’s rare we have the opportunity to meet someone so incredibly talented, and so very humble. How do you remain so grounded? I am born this way. You’re both a professional designer working at Livingroom agency and an established photographer with your own book coming out - are you living the dream? Do you feel like you’ve accomplished what you want to accomplish or are you still hungry for more? Yes I am living a dream. I love what I do, and I wouldn’t do something that I don’t love. I think we are all missing something if we don’t live our dream. I would rather not be in this life if it’s not the way I want it to be. And yes there is definitely no end to my imagination. Nothing stops me from thinking and I keep going and ideas keep coming. I wouldn’t call it hunger, but a constant struggle to satisfy the inner child in me. You have shot a lot of very interesting fashion shoots, are you particularly interested in fashion?
Yes, I like to stay more in fashion. It’s progressive and brings different dimensions in seeing things. Different styling and makeup variations give my pictures some character or some kind of uniqueness or a personality. However I am in between fashion and art. Can you take us through your ‘process’? Do you have a ritual or certain way of doing things? Yes actually I do. I shoot images that have been living in my head. Once I’ve met a model or a new face and if I like them, I get inspired and when a new idea comes in my head I start to see them fit in those pictures. Next what I do is to share the ideas with a hair/makeup artist and see if they find the idea interesting as well, if all set goes well we just go and shoot. I always restrict myself to few models and I like to work constantly with the same people.
I am very proud of the picture and it’s been the most sold from my collection. We’re very excited for the launch of your book Type & Face! Tell us about the book - how did it come about, and what is the idea behind it? The book is about two things I love the most, Typography and Photography. Many people have told me to do a book of photography but I always thought and felt that the book idea needed some kind of an edge. Type & Face is a collaboration with numerous artists (including our Gyula Deak!) - what were these collaborations like? Why did you decide to work with other artists on your first book?
How important are your cameras to the work you produce? Do you feel like the types of tools one uses are important or essential, or do you think good work be produced with any type of camera?
I have always believed in collaboration and this was another opportunity for me to showcase brilliant talent who get excited to see my work and do some magic with it. I have always considered myself as an artist but not as a photographer. Therefore for me creating a bigger idea around the book was very important, so as not to really limit myself to taking photos but to express them in a different way.
Yes definitely you can take great images with any sort of camera. A photograph is all about its content, object, the difference, the attitude, the message, or the angle. It’s not about “how many mega pixels did you use?” or “was it full frame or not?” No one gives a f**k about that. It’s creativity and the only place you have to be technically right is when the image is to be used in some sort of production.
About the artists, I would say I handpicked them, the people I knew and probably have seen their work before and they have some kind of an edge. Some of the other artists like Jana Jelovac, Lara Bizri, Rijin, and Ed Dickson I have really worked closely with and I knew what I was expecting from them, and I’ve always loved Gyula’s work and I think he’s one of the best designers in the region.
I have seen people with great equipment that can’t do s**t and at the same time I have seen great photographs taken by a phone. One of the best pictures I have shot was shot on a very basic canon camera, 400D.
Who are some of the artists you worked with and how were they selected?
How are your work and style received internationally compared to locally? I consider my style more international than local and that’s how everyone from the outside sees it. I consider myself a portrait photographer, somebody who understands faces and their power of beauty. Some of my key projects been well rewarded in international exhibitions and books. Tell us about the photograph you’re most proud of. It’s called “The Monkey”. “The Monkey” is a picture that I took backstage during a shoot. Famous top model Crista Cober was getting ready and I was working as an art director on the set. I used to have a 400D. I had no intention to get this picture but there was something that knocked my head when I saw a Che-like monkey printed on the makeup artist’s tshirt. The illusion of the monkey checking out Crista while the makeup artist was busy doing her hair. I was watching them through the view finder. In a few seconds the monkey’s face was well coordinated with Crista’s and I took the shot.
I precisely selected them based on their style. Artists: (Jana Jelovac, Ed Dickson, Gyula Deak, FaizD, Lara Bizri, Komal Bedi, Rijin Kunath, Amrit Raj, Nisreen Shahin, Umer Razzak, Mounir Harfouche, Stephanie T, Noush Like Sploosh, Liam Farrel and myself) are mix of designers, writers, and art directors. When can we get our hands on a copy of Type & Face? Is the launch happening in Dubai? How can our readers find out more about the event? The book will be published in May and I am looking to launch it at the same time. The first 110 signed copies will be given away during the event, others can be bought from local and international stores worldwide. The book will also be available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. The launch will also include hanging art from the book itself that can be purchased. Check out more of Mansoor’s work and find out more about his upcoming book launch here: Blog: www.mannbutte.com Website: slingme.co
photography: Iga Drobisz www.igaphotography.com styling: Lim Vik / Kiv Mil model: William Lhoest location: Singapore
HENRY HOLLAND BRINGS BACK THE 80s Words by Laura Nunn
I’ve been considering the resurgence of the 80s and 90s in fashion recently and reflecting on New York, London, and Paris fashion weeks in the press, and the wide variety of collections, statement pieces and themes of 2013. The one that really stood out to me and, the designer I feel to be the most relevant and involved in the come-back, is Henry Holland, owner and chief designer at House of Holland. Famed for his retro t-shirts and his ‘London-girl’ inspired pieces such as his massively popular and wonderfully diverse range of tights and sneakers, he’s already a mainstay in affordable fashion. I’ve followed the work and colourful style of the Manchester-born designer and his fashion house since he hit the ground running back in 2008 following the success of his ‘fashion groupies’ T-shirt range in the couple of years before. His popularity, some might say (and have said), could be largely due to his group of celeb friends and his place in the ‘cool mob’ - the Alexa Chungs, the Pixie Geldofs, his regular and well-known partnership with supermodel Agyness Deyn - the girls you see in every front row because they’re featured, almost every day, in tabloid mags at the opening of anything worth being seen at. This year though, and with this new collection, I think he’s earned his stripes amongst the fashion elite. His personal ‘look’ always reminds me of an achinglycool, hipster ‘Fido-dido’ - remember that gawky 7-Up character from the 80s? Last year his invites were sent out as ever-so-cool iPhone 4 cases, featuring his signature multi-coloured dogtooth pattern. This year he one-upped himself by issuing old-school cassette tapes (including directions to an unusual location of a city-centre multi-storey car park). His latest installment at London Fashion Week was a self-proclaimed flashback to “the Summer of Love 1989”, with his signature pieces consistent in being bold, colourful and irreverent. Casual yet comfy, stylish and ready to party were, as usual, a mainstay of the capsule collection for this year’s show. The
front-row, or ‘FROW’ as the fashion-pack now refer to it, made up of the usual suspects in his Notting Hill gang, were treated to rave inspired, acid-house prints - his nod towards the 50s, 70s, and 80s. His fellow and muse, raven-haired Nicola Roberts (of Girls Aloud fame) gushed, expectedly, over the retro wallpaper inspired shift dresses and wet-look takes on the classic trench (one of my personal faves), branding Holland “fashion week itself” with this year’s designs her own “favourite EVER HOH collection”. Perhaps most controversial were the cartoon cigarette prints and some of the styles you could consider a bit of a reminder of childhood visits to your grandma’s house. I personally adored the new fur-lined, on-trend ponchos, can see myself potentially warming to avocado green, and will definitely be looking to add some of his flares to my wardrobe this season. The Martini glass cigarette pants and matching jacket might be a touch too far for the office but in Henry’s mission to transport us back to a much trendier, chic version of the 80s, he most certainly delivered. Although already popular, with his tights having made him a somewhat high-street name, this is a collection that could propel the young star into standing alongside the fashion icons that have changed and inspired the way we look at fashion. Influenced by UK designers and the fundamental ‘looks’ of the typical 20-30 something southern England girl, he is on his way to becoming a designers’ inspiration himself. Unafraid of being seen as a daring and distinctive designer, he’s a rising star and deservedly so. As a child of the 80s myself and someone who has been quite nervous about the revival of a generation in which I was subjected to itchy sweaters, unflattering pink leggings, and T-shirts (always for some reason about 5 sizes too big) emblazoned with logos and fluorescent nonsense, I have been not only been pleasantly surprised but also encouraged and excited by the fact that he’s made it not only wearable and stylish but perhaps, even, (dare I say it?) cool to be 80s.
The first few months of the year are really big in fashion. No matter who you are, what you do, or where your interests lay, you’ll be inundated with predictions for fashion week, pap photos during fashion week, or the influx of articles dissecting every bit of it after fashion week. However, this year, we found a reprieve in a very fashionable alternative to all the two-legged self-importance in Menswear Dog - our favourite fashion blog yet. Brainchild of husband and wife duo David Fung & Yena Kim, Menswear Dog has quickly grown in popularity. And it’s not surprising, with that face? And in that blazer? The 3 year old shiba inu in these images, whose distinguished demeanor is offset by a playful spirit, is said to have “a panache for all things style”, with interests including “never washing his selvage denim, lurking around Soho for someone to notice his steez, and sniffing fine a** bitches.” Enjoy these beautiful images, the sultry looks, those eyes, and that impeccable style. And when you’re done, visit mensweardog.tumblr.com for more.
WE’VE BEEN FOLLOWING GAYATHRI’S MUSICAL JOURNEY FOR THE PAST COUPLE YEARS AND IT’S SIMPLY EXHILARATING TO SEE SUCH AN AMAZINGLY TALENTED PERSON DO WHAT SHE LOVES AND DO IT SO WELL! GAYATHRI WAS BORN AND BRED RIGHT HERE IN DUBAI, AND CONSIDERING HOW MUCH SHE HAS ACHIEVED IN A MUSIC SCENE THAT IS STILL IN ITS VERY EARLY STAGES IS AN ATTRIBUTION TO HER STALWART DEDICATION. THIS GIRL HAS A LOVE FOR MUSIC, AND NOTHING AND NO ONE WILL STAND IN HER WAY! THE PAST YEAR HAS BEEN A WHIRLWIND FOR GAYATHRI AS SHE WORKED HARD TO PROMOTE HER MUSIC WITH AN EP, A VERY SUCCESSFUL INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN, A MOVE TO LONDON, AND THE KICKING OFF OF A NEW PHASE IN HER CAREER WITH THE LAUNCH OF HER ALBUM THE UNKNOWN. WE WERE LUCKY ENOUGH TO GRAB A COPY AND WHAT WE HEARD REFLECTED THE TALENT AND DEDICATION OF THIS VERY SPECIAL ARTIST. THE UNKNOWN IS SO MUCH MORE THAN A DEBUT ALBUM. IT’S AN EXPRESSION OF ONE VERY TALENTED LADY’S ENDLESS PASSION AND LOVE FOR WHAT SHE DOES.
We’re so excited at the launch of your album The Unknown! This is a passion project in every sense of the word - can you tell us a little about how this project came about? Music is all I do. I pursue it in the smaller picture of everyday and the bigger picture of life purpose. To that end I have been performing, touring, putting out singles, EPs, and music videos for over 5 years now and last year I knew it was time for a full-length album - a cohesive, colossal piece of work - that defined where I stand today, musically. So I decided to do it. I had written a lot of songs by this point, and felt confident that I could tell all the little stories I wanted to, tied together by the way they were told. But most importantly, I decided to do it at this time because I had found a team of people who I knew would and could help me get there. I worked with long-time collaborator Producer/Mixer, Reiner Erlings who always makes the songs sound infinitely richer than when I brought them to him. Ekta Saran who dedicated herself to the making of this album as much as I have to document every moment artistically yet being meticulous about it. We also created all the teasers, photographic imagery,
and webisodes for the album, shaping the vision for the album and making my own vision more clear with every passing day. Couple that with a team of artists like Christoffer Relander, Ebrahim Mirmalek, and Tushar Menon and there’s no room for even a smidgen of doubt that we were going to create something strong together. So there was nothing left to do but do the work.
project differ than working on something you’re funding yourself? Does your creative process change at all?
How has the album grown since its first conception? Did you have something really specific in mind, or did your vision of the album change or grow along the way?
You worked very closely with your husband-to-be Reiner Erlings and close friend Ekta Saran - what was that like? Did you face any challenges in working with people you are so close to, or was it easier because you know each other so well?
The songs were there and as we dug into them, some of them didn’t fight back but most of them stood their ground. So there weren’t a lot of changes in the tracklisting department. That being said, Reiner and I work in a way where we record a rough scratch of every song and during that process, ideas come up, arrangements, melodies that we’ll put down to aid the actual production process. We’ll leave it for a while and come back to it when we’re stuck somewhere else, constantly weaving in and out of different songs, different worlds, bringing a piece of the other to the one we’re working on. ‘Greatest Love Story’ the song was based around chords on a piano, on which I wrote it, but after putting in some time, the song just didn’t bloom within that path. So we replaced that whole idea with guitar instead and it started to come more and more alive. So I guess within the framework of the song, things were always sort of changing. I think we just went full-force into it and it just started taking a shape of its own. This album was funded by an awesome campaign on Indiegogo. How was the experience of working on the campaign? I think going the crowdfunding route was the best decision I made for many reasons. The financial empowerment is the obvious up side of it, but it brought a lot of other positive intangible things that have had a deep impact on the album and on me. First of all, it takes a lot to make a campaign successful, and with a strong team of friends who became my campaign ambassadors, spreading the word about it, it got me so focused on the end goal. The amount of good will, excitement and support I got from my family of funders is absolutely priceless and gives a small independent like me a lot of confidence and willpower to keep doing what I’m doing, without letting doubt swallow me whole. Lastly, when the campaign was successful, throughout the 5 months of the actual production of the album, it served as a constant yet gentle reminder of what I set out to do, how much bigger it had gotten with all of these people who were invested in it, literally and in spirit, and most importantly, it reminded me that what I was doing mattered, that it wouldn’t fall off the wayside and that people were right there with me during the journey. So it was pretty amazing. As you worked on the album, did you regularly interact with your supporters? Yes absolutely, it’s part of the format of crowd funding. It is essential to keep your backers and supporters engaged and I did that through sharing videos, webisodes of the making etc. How does the way you work on a crowd-funded
The creative process remains the same - there are a lot of other things that must be done - making your to-do list exponentially larger, but nothing drastically different. It definitely enriches it!
It was an absolute joy. The thing about knowing each other really well is that there is an immense amount of trust between us. There is always a confidence that we’ll get where we want to because we have each other to rely on. In the case of Reiner and I, music truly brought us together, so it is a space where we both feel most alive. Ekta and I are in a constant creative conversation pretty much all the time. It is wonderful to know that you can be brutally honest with each other when it comes to achieving a certain visual. I have learnt a lot from both of them and the album has only bloomed because of it. Tell us about the artists you collaborated with on the album artwork - how did you work with them considering you were bouncing between countries? Did you ever meet face to face to discuss the work? The internet was a god-send in this process. It just made working with four artists in different countries really simple and efficient. While doing my research about artists, I came across Christoffer Relander who is a Finnish artist whose stunning, pristine work spoke to me immediately. I emailed him, taking a chance and hoping he would respond to the music and what I had in mind and luckily for me, he did. His style basically summed up what I wanted to create, so it was a great jumping off point. When we both figured out what the exact vision was and decided to work around the distance issue, we decided to break the whole process into parts. That opened the doors for more artists like Ekta Saran who did my portrait and Ebrahim Mirmalek who lent his incredible images to create a dramatic backdrop. I’ve worked very closely with Tushar Menon before - he worked on my Indiegogo campaign video. He is an incredible designer and conceptualizer with a branding brain. He was the perfect person to bring all of the other elements together and work on the branding with me. His concept of the ‘musicon’ and making music graphic was something that really took things to the next level and brought depth to the design. We worked on how we would make this work within the album and in the process, I learnt a lot about the album, seeing it in a way that I hadn’t before. Every artist and their process was highly inspiring and I believe that we managed to create a sense of cohesiveness and create that “unknown” world through the artwork. How did the album artwork come about? Did you have an idea in mind for the direction it would go in? The one thing I knew for sure about the artwork was that I wanted to create a strong photographic image for the cover. I wanted to have my face on the cover as
it was my debut album but not in a poppy, glossy kind of way. I wanted it to create a world in a sense. I knew I wanted a layered image with an ethereal undertone yet arresting. When I did my research taking that vision in mind, Christoffer’s work was all of that and more. So there definitely was an idea and direction but what came out of all of it was much cooler than I ever imagined. You collaborated with quite a few people in the making of this album - was it difficult to share such a personal project with other people? How did you maintain your vision of it all while inviting other opinions and points of views? I love bringing people into my creative space. It does have some tricky things that come with it, but in my books it has to be a collaborative process. First of all, having third person perspective always keeps you from being too indulgent. But if you’re really lucky, when you find people who are great at what they do, and great at understanding what you do, you find yourself answering the right questions about your work, what it is you’re trying to do and why it is important. I think that the trust that comes with letting people in makes maintaining one’s vision easy. People, even in times when they probably shouldn’t, believe you know what you’re doing and continue to work hard and smart, keep you on your toes and support you in a way that is rarely talked about but always lingers. How much do you draw on your personal experiences to write your songs? I do absolutely draw from personal experiences when I write songs. I don’t think I could honestly deliver any song if what I was singing about wasn’t something I had either experienced emotionally or felt very strongly about on a personal level. I’m overly sentimental about things so the music tends to reflect that. I would love to share stories about songs, but I would like to leave
people to draw from it what they want because once the songs are out there, it no longer belongs to me, it belongs to the person listening. I wouldn’t want to dress the songs up in my stories and take away from the joyful experience attaching one’s own story to a song. All I can hope for is that the songs speak to people on a personal level. Aside from being born and raised in Dubai, you also began your career here. What were some of the most defining experiences you had in Dubai? Dubai is my creative underground bunker. It is home to me, not just because my parents, friends, and cat live there, but because it is the place I got my first guitar, did my first few performances, made mistakes, learnt from them and always felt a sense of community and support. Some of the most defining moments were definitely serendipitously meeting Reiner, working and learning from him everyday, my first EP’s launch performance at the Jam Jar, conceptualizing Movement with 100 artists and musicians and the UAE Philharmonic Orchestra, watching it bloom creatively and then completely fall apart financially, learning from that, putting out my first music video, meeting passionate young creatives such as yourself who contribute daily to the cultural scene instead of whinging about it and reaching the finish line on my crowd funding campaign. The amount of support I received from the people in Dubai and all the people I’ve met here is priceless. Dubai’s been extremely good for the songwriter in me, letting me find my voice and giving me the confidence to perform and keep moving forward. What sort of impact has your move to London had on your career? It has made me more single-minded about my goals - if that were possible. I have been studying the trends in the music industry in the UK, how the scene works and what would be the best way for me to make my way within it. I get to see a lot of bands live and feel
encouraged by the thirst for discovering unknown artists like me. So it has made me more goal-oriented, hard-working, and excited about being a musician and taken away that feeling of “shooting in the dark”. I feel like I’m in my element basically. We hear you’re going on tour this summer! Tell us all about it! I’m currently planning a tour in the States this summer, trying to go all over but focusing on quality shows rather than doing too many gigs, not really playing to the right audience, and going broke at the end of it. I’m putting together an ensemble of musicians to travel with, but it’s all about a bit hush hush right now, because all the specifics are still being worked out. I promise you’ll be the first to know, when all things are a go. Do you have any projects in the pipeline? What are your plans for the year? Coming up soon, I’ve been commissioned by Sikka this year in their maiden Music component in their program this year. So I will be performing at Sikka and releasing a new single written for this project. I have three launch concerts for the album - London, Mumbai, Dubai followed by a tour in the summer. I plan on putting out a couple of new music videos, sending out a gazillion emails and then performing some more, trying my damnedest to get the music to as many people as possible. Working hard basically, working smart, making every day count doing something I love. That’s the plan. Find out more, stay up to date, and enjoy some incredible music here: www.gayathrimusic.com www.vimeo.com/gayathri www.facebook.com/gayathrimusic
REGAL BEATS Interview by Zaina Shreidi
Weâ€™re always on the lookout for new music in our city, and we were very happy to bump into the guys from Regal Beats, who chatted with us about their upcoming EP, debuting at this yearâ€™s Sikka Art Fair. Keep an eye on and an ear out for Regal Beats and make sure you grab a copy of their EP in March!
Tell us about how you came together to form
Original music in Dubai is emerging and will
What are your future plans? Can we expect
Regal Beats - did you all meet in Dubai? How
take a few forefathers to establish the roots. It
a full album later this year?
did you start making music together?
is an exciting time to be involved with original music in the UAE and Regal Beats hope to make
We’ve existed exclusively in the studio to date
We got teamed up the first time to shoot people.
so we are really looking forward to getting on
Having had some interactions between us
We each have numerous projects individual-
previously on other musical endeavors we never
ly that allow the existence of the Regal Beats
officially got together until a game of paintball in
collective. We have confidence this trend can be
Moving forward we hope to take fire to the UAE
Abu Dhabi through mutual friends.
reversed in time.
We’d like to say we dominated the field but Peter
By launching your EP at Sikka Art Fair,
In terms of further works we have several ideas
spent his time looking for a perfect sniper posi-
the first people to hear it will be the artis-
taking bloom including the production of a
tion, Stoyan took safe spots, and Jed spent his
tic and creative crowd - is this something
new single through SIKKA Art Fair, a remix
time screaming like a girl.
important to you as a band? Do you aim to
production of our EP and about a gazillion new
reach a certain type of listener with your
songs. Everything we do will be channeled online
Pretty much set the tone for Regal Beats.
sound and style?
through our website www.regalbeatsmusic.com.
It’s hard to define your style, but if you
It is really a double edged sword. On one hand
had to put it into words, how would you
the temptation is to think “the more ears the
describe your music?
better”. But in reality it is finding acceptance
stage. With the launch of our EP it will give us the foundation to go public.
Watch this space.
within the creative community that opens the Punchy.
floodgates to the wider population. So in essence the answer is yes - it is important we start with
Its an up-vibe blend of electronic and live sounds,
the creative crowd, but our music is not written
in a pop format with an alternative edge.
to be exclusive.
Catchy but cool.
Rather we would like to think of our music as inclusive; fulfilling the quest for good times while
Are you all full-time musicians? Is it tough
allowing the opportunity for people to ponder
maintaining a band in the local music scene?
the human experience.
PHOTO CREDIT: CARPARK RECORDS
CONCERT REVIEW (02/02/2013) EMO’S EAST AUSTIN Words by Tomas Salazar
Chazwick Bundick, producer and mastermind behind Toro y Moi, is a strong up and coming artist that I had long been waiting to see. When I first listened to his Car Park Records debut album, ‘Causers of This’ (2010), his music instantly struck me as very soothing and experimental, but most of all I found it to be very personal. In other words, it was great headphone music. Even tunes from later releases such as ‘Underneath the Pine’ (2011) and ‘Anything in Return’ (2013) delivered comfort and a sense of serenity to my mind and soul. Often described as Chillwave or synthpop, I was not really sure what to expect from a Toro y Moi concert. Everything I had heard or read about his shows displayed his DIY technique with Ableton Live as opposed to anything involving a full live band. Always armed with a computer, some keyboards, and a guitar, his solo sets required him to be in full control of every aspect of his performance. As his music became more organic, he began to drift into the idea of using other musicians on stage. Bundicks’s 2013 tour, shortly after the drop of ‘Anything in Return’ brought him and his band to Emo’s East in Austin, Texas on the 2nd of February. Expecting Toro to lay down what I always claimed to be smooth jams, I was instantly caught off guard and slammed by a wave of pure supremacy. Kicking the show off with songs like “Say That” and “New Beat”, I was pleasantly overwhelmed with the warmth of full synth-like chords and incredibly funky melodies. The dance floor erupted with motion, which lasted throughout the entire set. Needless to say this is one of the best concerts I have been to over the last year. I am always on the look out for groundbreaking music and upcoming DIY producers that bring new sounds and unique creative techniques to the table. Yet acts like Toro y Moi remind me that no matter what you do in the studio, nothing can ever replace the experience of feeling live bass, the necessity to dance brought about by punchy synth lines, groovy guitar riffs, and the levels of intensity and euphoria that live drums and dynamics can take us too. It truly was a very personal and exponentially inspiring experience. I think its fair to say that I won’t be missing any Toro y Moi shows if there’s anything that I can do about it. And you shouldn’t either!
If you’re a kid growing up in Pakistan and probably not too optimistic about you or your country’s prospects in the world, what do you do with yourself at the weekends to dull the pain of living? The same thing kids do around the world – hit parties, dance badly, and try to get laid. And so I found myself in Islamabad on a hot summer evening, surrounded by all manner of the local youth doing what people have been doing for centuries. I run a web company and was over there on business - meeting our beloved client, speaking to new partners, and enjoying my time in the city diplomats never want to leave. The party in question was hosted inside a wedding tent on a golf course on the affluent outskirts of Islamabad. Luckily we knew the right people and didn’t have to fork-out the $50 admission fee. We drove through the gates and parked up in a sea of identical cars - Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas are the only thing people drive in Pakistan. I saw two groups of boys in their early-20s, hair-styled uniformly in greased quiffs knocking something back in plain view of the security guards. Intrigued, we headed through the crowds towards the sound of electronic music. The entrance to the venue presented a classic example of bureaucracy – flexible for some, rigid for others. No alcohol was allowed inside, but everyone seemed to be walking in with large water bottles filled with a local favourite – Boris Jelzin vodka (correctly misspelled), distinguishable from methylated spirits only by branding. Tickets were checked after the broken metal detector. The doorman seemed to be doing great business in backhanders from ticket-less punters. No wristbands in sight, only a zip tie which slowly gnawed a groove into my arm during the night. The venue itself was one of those huge temporary wedding tent structures, complete with plastic windows and PVC doors. There was no bar to speak of, serving alcohol or otherwise, but there was a crappy snack shop outside selling the usual selection of soggy sandwiches and neon-orange Mirinda common in this part of the world. I grabbed a can of Mirinda to mix with my Jelzin vodka and headed towards the mass of people inside. The crowd was a strange mix of wealthy teenagers, 30-somethings in Polo-shirts, married couples, and local labourers in shalwar kameez. Most of the people at the party were male. The couples and older groups were sat down on the arrangement of wedding chairs with some standing around the edge of the dancefloor drinking spirits. The teenagers and labourers mixed in together on the dancefloor-cum-mosh pit, thrashing around and “screwing the light bulb”. At this point, let me back-up a bit, because the music on offer needs some context. I’m from the UK, where
we are spoilt with quality dance music from an early age. But this is Islamabad, Pakistan. The rave virus and its various off-shoots never really infected this part of the world. So what passes for “great techno” in Pakistan, is in fact cheesy US RnB drenched 4x4 pop music with a smattering of Eastern European trance thrown in for good measure. That is to say, by my tastes, the music was pretty bad. Two local DJs were behind the decks from the beginning. They did everything to get the energy going, from crowd-hype on the mic to pretending the soundsystem was broken by stopping the music every now and shrugging to the crowd. This was lost on me and most of the other people at the party, because hey, this is Pakistan and nothing works properly anyway. Screwups are expected. As the night drew on, the crowd seemed on edge and tense with anticipation for the arrival of the headline act. Her name was Vika Jigulina and at the time she was completely unknown to me. A Moldovan-born Romanian singer and dubious “DJ”, Jigulina is responsible for singing over ‘that accordion tune’ also known as ‘Stereo Love’ by Edward Maya. Every single one of you reading this, no matter how old or young, will have heard this song. With over 184 million YouTube plays, I would expect so. Central to the song is a hugely hypnotic accordion earworm that hooks onto your brain and drains the life force out of you. It is playing on repeat right now in clubs across the world and chances are, you have at some point, danced to it in a Jägermeisterinduced haze. But not surprisingly, it wasn’t her musicality or dexterity that the hordes of single, baying men were here to witness. It was something much more… simple. As Jigulina came on-stage the real reason for the male crowd’s excitement became clear. Lit from behind by purple and pink Parcans, her dress became instantly seethrough and the closest thing Islamabad was getting to a strip-show had begun. Gyrating her way through a medley of Euro-trance, most of which I later realised was her own music, the crowd screamed and moshed as the energy inside the wedding tent start to peak. Apart from the accordion tune, one other song stood out, because it was either played or sung no less than five times that night - Rihanna’s “We Found Love”. In a place of both privilege and despair, hearing this while I sat and smoked watching everything unfold, this song took on a new meaning and significance. Pakistan is a place where ‘love marriages’ are rarer than ‘honour killings’. Where parental insecurity fueled by a heady mix of caste, status and religion force young adults into relationships largely against their will and understanding. In this place and with this context, seeing couples hooking up at the edge of the dancefloor, local labourers shimmying, and wideeyed, teeth-grinding teenagers moshing
in the background, Rihanna’s song took on a new meaning. At this point, something I had consumed started sending me sideways. I headed for the cheap plastic fire doors into the humidity to sit outside alone. While I escaped the bad trance music, the kids inside found their own escape that is so crucial in Pakistan because the country is so damaged. There are drone strikes wiping out extremist groups and innocent civilians alike across the Federally Administered Tribal Region on a daily basis. The government is so corrupt, that during Prime Minister Gillani’s time in office between 2008 and 2012, over $94 billion was skimmed from government coffers through corruption, tax evasion and in some cases, outright theft. And then there’s the other stuff – 25% of the population is below the poverty line, 55% of the population cannot read or write, and the World Bank has recently called Pakistan one of the most socially and economically unequal countries in the world. When you add to this the permanent war with India over Kashmir, the recent harbouring of Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad and the government-sponsored nuclear weapons program which proliferates WMDs to North Korea, Iran, Libya, and beyond, you would probably agree. In this context, the escapism taking place inside the tent seemed both understandable and vital. As a kid growing up in Manchester, I never found life particularly easy. Who does at 16? But the worst I had to deal with was random acts of drunken weekend violence in the center of town or the possibility that I would never be able to leave behind the dull prospects of that city. If you grew up in Islamabad however, you face a totally different set of problems. Not long after university you will probably find yourself working inside the broken government bureaucracy; experiencing bribery, pridefueled tribalism and industrial-scale corruption every day. And in your lifetime, by current estimates at least, you face the very real possibility that the government will radicalise to suit creeping Islamism, that Pakistan becomes a failed state or that the world’s first nuclear-armed terrorist organisation will be born in the same country you were. So surrounded by inequality and failure, these kids, themselves the very future of Pakistan, were that evening free in front of the lasers and trance music. Kids do this across the world, but amongst the chaos of Pakistani life, it was urgent, raw, and necessary. And with that, after considering the state of Pakistan’s next generation while staring out on an unwatered, pockmarked golf course, I went back into the wedding tent, gave a nod to my colleague, and we started rounding up our motley crew of Pakistani ravers. We found our car in the sea of identicals and our driver, as drunk as Boris Jelzin himself, drove us home for the night.
STRIFE: WITNESS A REBIRTH ALBUM REVIEW by Trevor Bundus
The minute I put the headphones on I was trans-
drug or alcohol intake) was a new concept and
you feel like you can take on the entire world.
ported back to the early 90s. I used to have to
the often sited reason behind their lyrics. Subjects
There is an energy in the album that hasn’t really
walk to and from school through minus 30 degree
such as defiance, truth, and honesty were the
existed in its pure and undubbed beauty. The
temperatures, howling winds, and utter and hope-
basis of the hardcore scene, the angry sounding
sound might be a lot to swallow for a first time
less small town (<2000 people) misery. Kinda like
music was an outlet for the energy. The hardcore
reader, but I highly suggest that you listen to the
a “Cheers” theme song without the happy regular
scene’s ideals were that of a community, a way
lyrics, the ideas behind the hardcore movement
bar customers. Instead we had old man winter,
of living that made you stand out as an individual
and how it helped to get a lot of angry people
jack frost, high taxes, and the ever prying eyes
against the norms of everyday life. It acted almost
through their tough times. There is really nothing
of the oh so friendly neighbors. Everyone indeed
as a moral compass for me and my friends. We
like angry sounding music which makes you feel
knew my name! Basically, this was the perfect
dove right into the music and looking back this has
setting for some intense hardcore music blaring
most likely been the reason I prefer to cut my own
into the ears of an overly angst teenager; that’d be
path and celebrate being an individual rather than
The overall album certainly delivers what one
me for those that missed it.
fitting into the latest pop culture.
would expect from a Strife Album. They have of
See I used to look forward to those walks b/c it
So, tonight I as write this article, I write for a
in not try to change something that isn’t broken.
allowed me to use my Sony Discman and crank
two-fold manner. I write one for the past life
I’m sure this is an intentional move and one that
up the tunes for the 15 minutes of torture I had
and all the memories I have lived through to the
hopes to inject a bit of positive hardcore into the
to endure 3 times a day (morning, lunch, and
soundtrack of a Strife song, and the other for the
current youth culture. My admiration goes out to
afterschool). Enter, STRIFE. I’ll admit it, I was an
future of the return of this giant of hardcore music.
Rick Rodney on this album, he sounds just as good
angry testosterone laden teenager. Strife was
The album itself does indeed make you feel like
as he did 11 years ago. There is nothing like a
the in your face, floor punching, straight edge
you’ve given an old re-listen of the original Strife
little teleportation album to make you remember
hardcore band that was to basically be responsi-
albums: just the straight ahead distorted guitars
your teenage years and with this Strife album
ble for my entire musical taste even until today. I
without a ton of effects and overlays. There are
you will certainly get what you pay for; that is
really took to the hardcore sound and Strife was
no voicings dubbed atop the main riff and the
of course assuming you are somewhat familiar
the quintessential band to begin this genre’s popu-
sound quality of Rick Rodney’s singing seems like
with the band in the first place. For me, tonight I
larity. Back in 1994, I would have been 13 years
he hasn’t lost any of his power or his intensity. In
choose the memory of me playing air guitar alone
old, and I first heard the straight ahead crunching
fact, in the first song you’ll hear the a-typical Strife
in my house during lunch hour to some Strife in
guitars, low end chug riffs, and screaming positive
riff, typical Rodney voxs, typical song name, and
1994! I’ve currently got a huge smile on my face.
vocals of Strife. The concept of straight edge (no
typical subject matter. I swear the album makes
course decided to use the AC/DC method here
MIXTAPE by Lizarazo
1. Emily Ford – Hunt You Down (aLr remix) 2. James Blake - Retrograde 3. Pazes – Rogue States (feat. Biblo) 4. Mezla - Mini-fuge 5. The Internet OFWGTA – Give it time 6. The Underachievers – Gold Soul Theory 7. Hodgy Beats – Lately (Produced by Flying Lotus) 8. The Gaslamp Killer – Nissim (ft. Amir Yaghmal) soundcloud.com/lizarazo88/lizarazo-mix-quintmagazine-com
mind geek INTERVIEW BY JASON JOSEPH
LOCATED ON THE LEAFY AND LAIDBACK GROUNDS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS IN CHAMPAIGN-URBANA IS THE IMPRESSIVE BECKMAN INSTITUTE. RESPECTED FOR ITS GROUNDBREAKING RESEARCH IN PHYSICAL SCIENCES, COMPUTATION, BIOLOGY AND COGNITION, BECKMAN IS ALSO THE SURROGATE HOME TO POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW KYLE MATHEWSON. ALONG WITH PSYCHOLOGY PROFESSORS AND FACULTY MEMBERS MONICA FABIAANI AND GABRIELE GRATTON, KYLE HAS BEEN CONDUCTING A FASCINATING COGNITIVE STUDY OF LEARNING, BEHAVIOUR, AND ELECTRICAL ACTIVITY IN THE BRAIN USING A SPECIALLY DEVELOPED VIDEO GAME. HOOKED UP TO A PORTABLE AUTOMATED SOMNACIN INTRAVENOUS DEVICE (PASIV), I ENTERED KYLE’S MIND TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT AS WELL AS HIS THOUGHTS ON MARIO AND THE POSSIBILITY OF A REAL MATRIX.
I have this image in my head that as kids, scientists were probably the ones in the garden burning ants with a magnifying glass or feeding mice to a pet Boa Constrictor. Were you that kid? I was definitely this kid. I remember making strips of honey to trap the ants outside, and also catching bees and feeding them to the garden spiders. When did you first get the bug for science? We had a workbench and electronic kits in the basement that my brothers and I were encouraged to tinker with by my dad. He had a strong influence on our love for science, math and inventing. I remember winning an egg drop competition in elementary school and a Grade 6 science fair project on the body’s natural electrical conduction properties. I fell away from science in high school. I don’t like how the different disciplines were taught separately without much emphasis on the relationships and interactions between them. But things changed at college while studying for my degree in psychology. I fell back in love with it and math as they were applied
to cognitive neuroscience and brain imaging. What are your earliest memories of playing video games? I remember very early computer games on the 386 and 486 PCs my dad had for us in the living room. In the early days of the internet we used to spend hours downloading games from BBS message boards. I remember finding the source code for a snake game on the DOS text editor and exploring how to change the speed, size, colours, and rules of the game from the code. We also got the first Nintendo system when it came out and spent hours playing Mario and Zelda and blowing into the cartridges to get them to work. My brother and I mastered these games and couldn’t wait for the newest versions. I think the puzzle solving aspects of these games, like having to find a key in one room to open a door in another, gave me an early set of valuable skills in problem solving and logical thinking, skills that I use with my scientific research today. I can see that you have a thing for the human brain. Can you tell us a little more about the project you’ve been working on currently? We have been studying the impact on the brain of learning to play a complex video game and how brain activity changes as one attains expertise. The game used in the study is called Space Fortress and was designed in the 80’s by cognitive scientists to observe complex behaviour. In the game you fly a spaceship around a friction-less world while trying to shoot at and avoid being hit by a pivoting enemy fortress in the center of the screen. During play we record the electrical activity produced by the player’s brain by attaching 64 wires to their head and performing an electroencephalogram (EEG). Then over a month, the participants come back and play the game for an hour at a time. Finally they come in after 20 hours of practice in the game and we measure their brain activity again. We discovered that practice at the game freed up resources in the brain, allowing other resources to be dedicated to the processing of additional or unexpected information. Even more interestingly, in my opinion, was that we found a certain pattern of brain oscillations when subjects first played the game that could predict how fast they would improve as they practiced. So I was right all along, video games are good for you? A secondary goal of the project is to study the extent to which practicing the game improves the player’s cognition in general. This is a very contentious issue with much of the evidence in favor suffering from problems of inappropriate control groups. The participants perform a great number of cognitive tasks when they first start coming into the lab. These common tests measure subject’s attention, reaction time, working memory, the speed of their visual perception, their cognitive control and their inhibitory
abilities. Contrary to popular opinion and many published results, my colleagues at Illinois found that on average there is no real improvement on these tasks compared to a control group with less practice with the game. Some people improve a great deal while performance from others remains constant. Did you notice any distinct patterns or differences between players of different gender or race? Nope. Could technology such as Google’s Project Glass and the Kickstarter funded Rift Virtual Reality Gaming Headset by Oculus learn anything from research such as yours? I see two relationships between our research and these emerging technologies. The first would provide us with a better way to immerse participants in their environments and tasks, allowing them to move and interact with the world around them. The second would be maintaining a high degree of control over this environment to encourage experimental manipulations of the world. Companies like AvatarEEG, Emotiv and InteraXon are already pushing the field towards low cost and portable EEG recording devices that can be integrated into video games and research studies. In 1997, IBM created the chess playing super computer Deep Blue. Now they have built a ‘cognitive computer chip’ that learnt how to play Pong without needing to be programmed. How long before Johnny 5 really is alive? As much as the promise for Artificial Intelligence is enticing and seems right around the corner, we are a far away from understanding how our intelligence works, let alone creating an artificial version of it. A paradigm shift in the field realised that instead of trying to first compartmentalise and understand each cognitive processes and replicate it, it’s more successful to provide a system with general learning algorithms and a basic structure and have the system learn the task on its own. The current state of the art is designing these learning systems and their architectures off of the human brains own biology, and as neuroscience pushes the later understanding, the advancements in AI should come along faster and faster. Kyle, are we in the Matrix or is the Matrix in us? In my opinion we are constructing this experience from the sensory information we have about the world around us. It is very interesting that, devoid of any inputs, the brain continues on oscillating and firing just the same. In fact, incoming sensory information only slightly perturbs ongoing brain activity, like ripples on an already wavy pond hit by a rock. What this probably means is that much of our experience of the world gets pulled slightly by what we see and hear. In this understanding, hallucinations, dreams, and altered cognitive states can be viewed not as problems with the system, but as the default state of the brain. If you put someone in a sound and lightproof bath of body temperature water, they soon start to hallucinate without any incoming information. The matrix is in us.
Jordan’s Got Game HOW FOUR FRIENDS ARE PLANNING ON MAKING THEIR OWN GAME THEIR OWN WAY. Words by Jason Joseph
According to a 2006 print ad from weekly financial The Economist, the name Jordan should instantly trigger the intelligentsia to recall images of the Middle East and percentage growth rates and not the Brooklyn born basketball legend. Clever copy aside there’s an interesting insight to the ad. One that shines a light on a fledgling industry that is on the rise in the ambitious Arab state. An emerging market, Jordan has modest resources of natural gas and minerals. However it’s the resources of its natural talent that is promising to be the worthwhile investment. Since the introduction of the first games console in the guise of the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972, video games have mushroomed to become a multi-billion dollar business. Japan, the USA, and the UK have always imposed a strong influence on the gaming culture. But as economies across the world teeter on the edge of the fiscal cliff and access to powerful technology becomes democratised, the cabal-like grip of the old guard has loosened, and countries such as Jordan are producing a new breed of 3D artists, designers, and publishers who are knocking on the virtual door. In no mood to wait for an invitation to come in is Ibrahim Khalil. An animated mass of enthusiasm and infectious determination, Ibrahim is part of a gaming spring that is bubbling in the Middle East. Like all those before him that set out to make a dent in the world, it was adversity that lit the fuse. “I’ve worked in three different companies in Jordan, mainly on iOS games. The management was really bad. A lot of money is wasted and everything takes too long to get published. I started to lose hope,” he laments. After some reflection and much frustration, Ibrahim came to an inevitable conclusion, “I decided that I was going to quit and make my own game.” True to his word Ibrahim quit his job and set out to realise his dream. Buoyed by a mixture of freedom and fear, the newly self-appointed entrepreneur turned himself into an
Arab version of Danny Ocean, and began recruiting the players needed to pull off the job. Ironically the process began with him returning to the old stomping grounds he left behind. Although his experiences working a regular nine-to-five had been lackluster, he did meet three like-minded souls along the way that shared his vision in Mohammed Idrei, Wajdi Adil, and the mysteriously monikered DurDur Draw Man. “Mohammed was the first guy that taught me 3D. He was the inspiration that pushed me to go further into that world. I worked with Wajdi on iOS games at my last company and Durdur is one of my best friends. He’s an amazing artist but he likes to keep a low profile as he is still working for another company. In Jordan it’s difficult to work on freelance projects while you’re employed, there are many restrictions.” Mismanagement and bureaucratic small print lead the four friends to form Team Food Fighter, and they immediately began work on their first game called Sanam. Eschewing the mobile and social based platforms many new and established developers are now taking, Team Food Fighter have more ambitious stars in their eyes. Inspired by the myths and history of Arabic culture and by classics such as Zelda and Prince of Persia, Sanam is a side-scrolling, PC platformer about the adventures of a broccoli sword wielding radish monk by the name of Fijleh. “Sanam originally started out as an idea for a short anime film that I had with a friend of mine back in 2008. We had just finished our studies and wanted to do something funky that was inspired by our love of Japanese animation. The problem was we were broke and had to find jobs. So we got busy and never finished it. Later my attention switched from anime to games. I had developed other ideas during this period but Sanam seemed like the easiest and most fun to do.” To make Sanam Team Food Fighter turned to the crowd-funding platform Indiegogo with a campaign to raise $100,000. Although support is available through organisations such as the Jordan Gaming Task Force and the Jordan Gaming Lab, Ibrahim is
cautious about approaching them. “I feel they are more concerned with supporting themselves. It’s a one sided way of working where they see us as competition. They don’t want an employee doing something promising. That’s why we are doing things the other way. We are reaching out to the world first, maybe then they’ll notice.” Ibrahim’s glass may be half full but it’s chased with a little apprehension and admitted naivety. $100,000, down from $200,000, is a big risk for anyone to take on a first time game by an unknown developer. “I admit we have been blinded by passion. We are not really business guys; this is something we are still learning. It’s tough because no one has done this before in the Arab world.” Their resolve is admirable, and you can see why passion has robbed them of their sight. Crowd Funding is peppered with success stories. Ibrahim mentions Sauropod, a three-man development team from Montreal, Canada that used Kickstarter to raise over $700,000 from a pledge of $80,000 to make their first game Castle Story. But this is an exception to a rigid rule, something Ibrahim is fully aware of. “We do have a Plan B but we haven’t really worked it out yet because we are so focused on Plan A. We’re still young and want to do something with our lives.” Depending on your position, time can be an enemy of invention. At time of print there’s less than two weeks remaining on their Indiegogo campaign, after which they plan on seeing if they can become the latest exception by switching to Kickstarter. “We are going to finish whether it’s now or in ten years. We want to show people what can be done.” For Ibrahim and his band of merry men time is not only their friend, it’s all they’ve got. Help Team Food Fighter make Sanam a reality! Check out their campaign and donate here: www.indiegogo.com/SanamGame
A game proudly made in the U.A.E.
A struggle’s devolution IN EGYPT’S CONTINUALLY DEVELOPING RANGE OF INTERNAL STRIFE, MOHAMED MORSI IS THE NEW HOSNI MUBARAK SAY MANY. THOUGH THE SAME ILLS OF JOBLESSNESS REMAIN, MORSI’S FAITH-BASED FOCUS ADDS A NEW DIMENSION TO AN ALREADY OVERLOADED CONFLICT. Words by Steven Pradia
Protesters swarm the streets, government goons crack clubs across skulls and the revolution pitting Egyptian against Egyptian rages on. While in 2011 the people railed against the blood thirsty antics of predecessor Hosni Mubarak, in a twisted game of fate the protest is now aimed squarely on his replacement, Mohamed Morsi. I tripped through Tahrir Square in late December wearing every embassy travel alert and motherly worry imaginable, but found nothing similar to what’s plastered across news feeds around the world. On what appeared to be a dormant afternoon, the square (now resembling a refugee camp) played host to half-naked toddlers being bathed in the street, dozens of memorial photographs for revolutionaries slain or imprisoned and the remnants of those still occupying the site. President Morsi emerged victorious in the power vacuum created by Mubarak’s Arab Spring-assisted ouster in 2012. As the result of Egypt’s first competitive democratic election, little fanfare was spared for what most expected would form a new era of Egyptian democracy. It is said however, that the true test of a man is how he reacts to power. And thus far Morsi is failing miserably. My visit fell just after a rushed nationwide vote approved a newly drafted Islam-central constitution. Just previous to the vote Morsi abandoned an attempt to usurp judicial oversight by granting himself a loophole which sought to heighten his reach beyond outside control.
In a country ruled by a nearly three-decade Mubarak administration, the failings of democracy (largely projected as the remedy) have revealed just how tenuous the state of the nation’s political identity. Demonstrations in September directed at a controversial YouTube video highlighted the country’s staunch Islamic position furthermore, yet Morsi’s opposition is defined by its secularism. In this latest global battle which locks the horns of faith and state, Egypt’s previous surge of revolution is now occupied by a conceptual stalemate. Beyond sporadic protests at the presidential palace and Tahrir, I found Egyptian life to be otherwise unaffected. Those I encountered essentially shrugged off the squabbles as politically driven tiffs outside the reach of everyday Egyptians. Most are still concerned with the same unemployment woes which ignited enough fury to unseat Mubarak. The new president has somehow worsened the reality by affecting little to no change whilst towing in a new brand of conflict. Morsi is presently making the international rounds, having recently returned from the EU in an attempt to salvage outside investment whilst the Egyptian currency’s rate of exchange trickles lower with every violent protest. My final evening’s walk through an Alexandria fish market displayed the country’s ideological struggle at its most stark. Prayer calls blare at an alarming decibel, yet the salesmen feverishly hawk their wares unabated.
What’s Not This Month! BUT IT IS BETTER FOR YOU THAN YOUR 50 SHADES OF CIROC® BELIEBERJUICE... Words by Ross Gardiner
Art enthusiasts, a term used in its baggiest sense, have long had a grave issue with mistaking ‘modernity’ for ‘relevance’. ‘If it’s new it’s automatically worth my attention, and the subsequent saturating gush of my squidgy purple praise, until it’s old, and then it’s s**t. And you’re s**t for still liking it. And even s**ttier if you’ve only just discovered it. Go out onto the veranda and have a word with yourself.’ The internet and the disposable culture which we have all gladly helped to facilitate has seen a huge rise in the level of confusion between ‘good’ and ‘new’. Blogs have given a voice to the people that would have previously made those grainy little zines you used to see as trodden blobs of pulp in puddles of ale after hardcore punk gigs. And while they do tend to fill the equivalent space on the internet, they have managed to consume and produce far more stuff with the help of MP3s and Wordpress than they ever could have with mix tapes and the library photocopier. My issue is that I’ve always liked my culture to prove itself, and stand the test of time. I could never muster the effort to discover the new stuff because I was far too busy digging through the old stuff that time had taken the time to verify. I was entertained by the people that found their identity in the ‘New Releases’ bin of the record store, or in drips of drying paint on another wall stencil of Marilyn Monroe. Chasing the next new band or artist and bragging about them like they were Pokemon cards always struck me as being kind of sad, and frankly missing the point of consuming culture in the first place. And while I will no doubt be accused of going intentionally against the grain, and basically “being just the same thing but like you know eh the opposite”, I don’t really care. Hashtagging any of the following artists/things on this list is not going to score me any cool points, or bag me an influx of new followers. I don’t like these things because I think you’ll think they’re cool. I like them and I learned something from them. So there. That’s the f**king Golden Charizard of the conversation. And it smashes your pathetic little ‘Flying Lotus’ Jigglypuff into tiny fragments of irrelevant matter.
them, ‘Choose the one you prefer, and I’ll make the other as a solo album.’ They chose ‘The Wall’. And five years later Waters made ‘The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking’. ‘The Pros and Cons’ is a highly conceptual, genrebending piece of art, primarily based on the sexually constricted transition into the middle years in a man’s life. The deeply embossed narrative unfolds in real-time, prodded along by Water’s breathy whispers and anguished screams, the recitative of a female choir, and plodding bass lines seasoned by a vintage Clapton guitar track and the late-Michael Kamen’s piano lines. Criticized by some for its lack of hooks and memorable melodies, the album never once panhandles for your love, instead showing an artist entangled by a reputation he no longer identifies with. He breast stroked away from conventional rock music into waves of classical composition and operatic styles, and subsequently left his work with Pink Floyd on an island far behind him. ‘The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking’ gave the public an early look at the kind of Roger Waters would be producing for the next three decades, and stands tall as a true landmark of conceptually driven music.
‘XYZ’ - Robert Mapplethorpe Progressive art is almost always controversial. Whether it presents itself in a manner that challenges people to rethink how they view art, or it challenges society’s taboos and attempts to break down walls of censorship, it will always encounter criticism. The 70s and 80s were awash with artists determined to question the restraints society put on freedom of expression, and few managed to raise those questions high as fine art photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.
The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking - Roger Waters (1984)
Best friend to punk’s godmother Patti Smith, understudy to Andy Warhol, friends of Keith Harring, Iggy Pop, and Debbie Harry, Mapplethorpe immersed himself in a New York scene teeming with artists that would come to redefine American culture. Despite the fact that his legacy has been more or less sculpted around ‘X’, his controversial homosexual sadomasochistic photographs, his body of portrait work is emboldened by its simplicity and of enormous cultural relevance.
‘The Wall’ by Pink Floyd is often cited as one of the greatest rock albums ever made. Conceived by the group’s bassist/primary songwriter Roger Waters, its concept was presented to the rest of the group along with another, entirely different concept. He told
New York city in the 70s and the 80s was very much at the apex of the seismic shifts in cultural identity, and Mapplethorpe’s nouveau-noir ‘XYZ’ exhibitions challenged audiences to confront racial inequality, gender discrepancy and sexual elasticity
at a time when the explicit display of these topics was still considered taboo. The public showing of these works in galleries across the country caused huge controversy and forced the question of the government’s role in the funding of arts into the public’s psyche, and thirty years on the topic remains as hot as it ever was.
Cathedral - Raymond Carver *Spoiler Alert* Raymond Carver, often regarded as one of the finest short story writers of the 20th century, made a career from writing about nothing. One of a group of writers in the 70s and 80s known as the ‘Dirty Realists’, he wrote about blue-collar Americans struggling to assess the gaps left in their lives by loneliness, separation and diminishing ambition. ‘Cathedral’ is often cited as his best story, encompassing everything Carver-esque (snipped, declarative prose, ‘zero endings’, disparate relationships etc.) yet it ends with a bittersweet wind of optimism often far away from his morose early writing. ‘Cathedral’ is the story of a blind friend coming to visit the narrator’s wife. They’d known each other for ten years, forming an emotional connection through tapes that they’d sent back and forth. The narrator is an ignorant, jealous man, dismissive of the relationship shared between the blind man (Robert) and his wife. The story concludes abruptly with Robert and the narrator sitting on the floor, eyes closed, drawing a cathedral together on a piece of paper. When Robert asks the narrator what he thinks of their drawing, he thinks for a moment and offers a half-formed thought that suggests the initial workings of an epiphany, but nothing more. The story is stylistically wonderful, utilizing almost every tool Carver kept in his box to great effect. Working in his strongest first-person narrative, he plays with grammar structures, cadence and tense to construct a character who, despite being touched by the experience, seems ultimately unchanged by what he’d been exposed to. Carver paints the subtle horrors of ignorance like no other, and throughout his entire career was able to tease his characters with opaque symbolism and bones-and-marrow rhetoric, giving his readership stories that continued giving long after their final period. Continued on quintmagazine.tumblr.com
Salton Sea by Ross Gardiner
I was a young boy of eight years old when my father first brought me to Salton Sea. I remember. We left our home on the outskirts of Pomona at around 5am that cold morning. I’d been lying awake for a while, listening to him moving around the trailer shaking the rigid stays with his weight. His heavy footsteps grew louder, shaking the floor as they approached my room. I squeezed my eyes shut. He opened the door. I pretended to stir awake. I let the light that poured in from behind his big black shadow burn my eyes. As they adjusted his features came slowly from the dark silhouette. He was wearing his heavy leather rain jacket that smelled sour with the moisture it had absorbed over the years. On his head he wore a woolen hat that mother had knitted, and on his feet were the boots he’d worn since before I was born. He stared at me from the frame of the door, before turning and walking away. Outside that morning it was dark, quiet. The air around me was a deep black, and the sound of the wind rolling down the mountains, whistling through the branches of the trees silenced the crickets. In the sky a near-full moon lined the clouds with light and the tree tops seemed to just brush them aside. The shadows normally cast by the mountains that surrounded us were lost in the dark of that moment between night and morning. Inside the truck father lit a cigarette. We sat side by side, quiet but for the crackling of burning tobacco, dark but for its faint glow. He turned the ignition and the truck came to life, lights and all. Our plot of land lit up from the glow of the headlamps. The gnats spun around and around in front of the lights, waiting for something to move. We sat there with the engine on for a minute. He took long slow drags on his cigarette, exhaling through his nose, and over the wheel. His ashen face hadn’t seen a razor’s edge in days, and the long white hairs had formed on his head like cracks on porcelain. I saw the big dark rings around his eyes, framing those long weighted blinks that told me how tired he was. I looked at myself in the mirror. I remember that I looked tired too. As we drove I wondered where we were going. The darkness of the night hadn’t yet lifted and father had not yet broken his silence. I didn’t know where we were. I wondered if I’d been bad recently. I wondered if I was the reason for this journey. I couldn’t tell. Father was never a man of many words, but he was rarely a man without words. He just smoked, glancing every now and again at the framed little black and white photograph of their wedding day that dangled from the rearview mirror. Every time we’d hit a bump in the road the picture would spin, showing me as a tiny child. About halfway through our journey he broke out in a coughing fit that made the car swerve.
I’d been woken by his coughing before. It was sharp and raspy, as if fashioned by a serrated edge. It sounded like trees being fell on a frozen forest floor. He coughed next to me, his whole body jolting, barely keeping the car on the road. I wanted to reach a hand out to touch him. In the wheezing between splutters I recall the smell of stale liquor distilling on his breath. I was scared for us. As his fit stopped and he gained control, he looked down at me. He wiped the corner of his mouth, looked at his hand, and kept driving. Eventually things started to come out of the darkness and into view as the sun started to rise. The summits of the mountains became golden strips of broken light and the sky which had gradually swept its clouds along to somewhere else was a cold, clean blue. We passed small farming settlements indistinguishable from our own on the edges of the plantations. Beaten huts were attached to the side of old trailers. The pickup trucks were eroding, their hoods popped open. Sheets dried in the dust on strings that hung from one tree to another. And in the fields ripe oranges hung from their lush green branches waiting to be plucked, by time, or some other hand.
* As the lights from the truck dropped and the engine shut down I looked over the dashboard at the vast landscape that spread out before us. I pushed myself up on the seat and tried to see the beach from the raised concrete road we’d taken to its edge. In that cold morning sun the sand was white like sediment, and the water blue like the cold, clean sky above it. The broken ridges and summits of the mountains rose up from the water’s edge, framing the lake with a quiet elegance. Inside the truck everything was quiet. Father looked out to the water. He was breathing heavily, puffing his big chest up and down. His hands still gripped the wheel. Those large dark fingers wrapped around to knuckles white with bone that almost broke through his cracked skin. His jaw was clenched shut and his emaciated cheekbones seemed to grow from his face, pulling his dark eyes deeper into his head. “Wait,” said father. He opened the door and the smell of death poured into the truck. I covered my nose with my gloved hand, but it did no good. The smell of the stagnant briney sea mixed with some cousin of sulphur rose up and seeped into everything. Father slammed the door shut and walked around the truck. Holding my nose as tightly as I could I sat up in my seat and watched him walk down the decaying concrete pass and onto the beach. He trudged along slowly, his feet sinking into the sand. I
watched his shadow moving as he did on the flat, barren surface. Once he was far enough in the distance I breathed out and opened the door. I took my hand from my nose and inhaled. The scent of decay rushed up and into my nose, and then down deep into my lungs. I could feel it inside me. The smell of dead fish mixed with the sound of living gulls. I closed the door and started towards the beach. The ground was littered with empty shotgun casings and broken beer bottles. As I got closer I realized that the sand wasn’t sand at all but tiny little shells from some tiny little sea creatures. I looked all around, trying to take everything in. My eyes stopped at the sight of the first decomposed fish. He was hollow and fragile, like an old styrofoam cup. I’d never seen anything so delicate. I looked to my father. He stood at the water’s edge. I looked back to the truck up on the concrete walkway. In front of me were the bodies of thousands of dead, dried out fish covered with a frosting of salt. I stood still, unable to take my eyes off those premature fossils on that cold, sparse beach in the valley. I felt sick. I stood trapped in front of the dead fish, looking out to my father, wrapped up in that damp coat that he wore. He turned and looked at me, and then he turned back to the sea. I watched him unlace his boots and pull them off one by one. He sat them down next to one another and rolled his pants up to his knees. I looked at all of the salted decayed fish on the ground in front of me. Father bunched his socks into a ball and stuffed them into his pocket. I wanted to run towards him and stop him. But I didn’t want to feel fish crush under my feet. I watched father take the first steps into the water, shattering its glass-like surface with gentle fading ripples. My heart beating, I closed my eyes and stepped onto that fish and felt what was left of it crush under my boot. I took another step, and few more. I opened my eyes and saw my father wading in up to his shins. I ran. I stopped at the sea’s shore, next to my father’s old boots. He had stopped in the water. The still water came to the bottom of his rolled up pants. He was standing up straight with his hands clenched at his side. I wanted to take off my boots too and run to his side. But I couldn’t. This was as far as I could go. I could only watch him. The large man standing in the sea reached into his old damp coat pocket and pulled out a small pink flower. The stem had been torn a few inches from the bud. He raised it to his face. I imagined him closing his eyes and smiling as he felt those last breaths of life sweep away that stench of death that was everywhere. The man threw the flower onto the water. And there we both stood, watching those beautiful pink petals ebb on the peaceful tide his steps had made below the desperate gulls that circled, floating on the wind, waiting, on that cold winter morning.
And at times they were highly pleasurable A lifetime of feelings packed into a short stratosphere The touch of death ever looming outside your doorstep Waiting to deliver that one last heaven before it takes you away The senses gather The water ever warmer Pictured flowers upon you As IT blew right through you And the times they were maybe even easier A timeline of seasons passed over your head When deathâ€™s hands came to brush your face And bring you back to the soil from which youâ€™ve came The never ending The earth was cooler Put dirt upon you As SHE tore into you
Books about copywriting always felt a bit meaningless to me (how many of you just squirmed?). They’ve felt kind of like self help books or random new age spirituality texts. Just like those, I tend to prefer reading the original texts, not somebody’s commentary on someone else’s interpretation. So, every time it came to texts on copywriting, I’d skip, look into books on creative processes and other books on writing in general. To be fair, until this one, the last book on writing I bought must have been a few years ago. Since then, all I’ve stumbled across is just rehashed principles we’re already very familiar with. Creative thinking and monographs on design and their advertising counterparts, on the other hand, are always inspirational. Even if they’re puke-worthy. Except Teressa Iezzi’s work was different. Revealing, in its way. Eight chapters and two appendixes long, the small paperback surveys the past decades of advertising from a copywriter’s perspective, and moves us into the coming years. It’s probably edging on obsolete already, but I’d give it a few more years of worthiness and, even then, it would act as a great historical reference. She sums up, quite cleverly, the argument for today’s golden age of advertising and concurrently explains the ever-changing role of the copywriter. She also appears to agree that a book about copywriting should not be about writing, even if no copywriter will ever really get anywhere if her writing skills are not above perfect. I’m not sure how to summarise the contents of this book; Iezzi’s conciseness is impeccable, the stories
she tells and the narratives she portrays are genuinely fun, and there’s a lightness to the serious content of this book that makes you feel like you shouldn’t put it down, in the same way a novella like Silk Handkerchiefs by Paul Haworth is a page-turner. She gives the reader a wide view of advertising and the many roles within the creative team and the numerous touch points a writer would have within an agency. With her storied approach to the development of the copywriter from the print ad to the digital multiverse and the evolution of the creative team from the duo to the many, she gives us plenty of examples of copywriters stepping out of the confines of the written word and yet also explains the many ways the written word and the writer’s capacity and endurance in writing has expanded over the years. With screenwriting and social media added to the repertoire of copy, the writer is no longer limited to the comforts of headlines and slogans, and the range of creative expression – and the mass of knowledge and experiences to be acquired – has expanded phenomenally for the writer. Two stories that stuck would have to be the BMW Films and the Burger King Chicken Fries; both campaigns written and conceived by copywriters thinking, working, and writing well outside their traditional roles. In a sense, she warns the writer to widen his scope and explore the infinite ways of thinking, from lateral to diagonal to something-we’ve-yet-to-define. And she uses this huge and growing expanse of creativity as the foundation of why our is advertising’s true golden age. I’d put this on any undergrad in any related field’s library without hesitation.
NEW WAYS TO KILL YOUR MOTHER
THE ADVERTISING CONCEPT BOOK
DUBAI. 1, GETTING THERE. words by fares bou nassif
On my December visit to Dubai I realised that there’s something uniquely intriguing happening. I hadn’t been in two years, with last time concluding in another Last Call about the city, with me concluding that, despite it being an interesting experience, everyone should bring their inspiration with them when they do visit. Somehow, along the line, that’s changed. Let me set this straight from the get-go: I don’t know where Dubai actually was creatively in early 2011, and I don’t know where it really is now (although I’ve gotten a better sense of things). I’ve never lived there, and my writings and observations have not been related to the city directly. This article (rant) is about one week for an outsider in Dubai compared to another week two years earlier. Nothing more. Both times were through the lens of the same two great people who hosted me and showed me around, and both times were very enjoyable, in their own ways. I was looking into staying then and now, albeit more seriously this time. By the time you read this article, I’d have moved there, at least for a starting period of a couple of months, and I’ll be chronicling my experiences in the first few months on here. Why though? I’m in Amsterdam, a highly creative city (even if you have to dig a little to find it all), with a sense of identity like few other places. A particular article by Bertie Brandes published in Vice UK made it very clear that Dubai is a place where ‘designers go to die’. She was talking about fashion and the Dubai Fashion Week, comparing it to London Fashion Week. The thing that stuck with me (being someone who’s not so big on fashion) is that she would never consider comparing Amsterdam Fashion Week to LFW; they’re in different leagues entirely, but AFW is still ‘a thing’. Comparing AFW to LFW would make more sense than DFW – and yet it’s still not done. Amsterdam, like London (although not at the same scale) has a very successful creative community, but the creative scene in this city is stalled, lagging, and much much older and more mature than that of Dubai. Amsterdam is self-defined and stuck with the identity it has created for itself (although, to be fair, it’s finally breaking away from its self-made bonds). What Amsterdam lacks that most people wouldn’t care for and what, at the time of my last Dubai article, Beirut had that made me love it was very, very simple: it was being created. It still didn’t know itself. There’s something fascinating, captivating, inspiring about a place that is in that state of flux and uncertainty that exists when it is consistently questioning itself and discovering its potential. I met with many people who all had opinions on Dubai’s ‘scenes’. It was when there were slight differences that you realised they weren’t so slight. Everyone in Dubai envisions the city their own way, experiences it their own way, and wants it to grow accordingly. For those of you visiting for Art Week, you’ll see the high-end face of the
city: Art Dubai and Design Days, the luxury hotels, the fancy restaurants and night spots. Then, maybe, you’ll experience other sides: the Deep Crates Cartel, Sikka Art Fair, the markets, the independents, our magazine. In April, you’ll look at Fashion Forward and the glam that comes with it. If you venture out of the city, Abu Dhabi will regale you with performances and music. Sharjah’s got their biennial. There’s a lot going on and so there’ll be a lot of people visiting; possibly more arts and culture types than usual in this bustling pitstop. I remember walking through the city last time, from JLT all the way across to Downtown and the bits in between, spending time at the Kempinski in the Mall of the Emirates, and getting a bit lost in Media City. Between here, there, and the metro, it was one hell of an experience that I recall felt dauntingly empty, like an abandoned city of ogres in perfect condition. I’m still trying to pinpoint what it is that changed, and it might be the purported 94% expat population, or something as simple as the end of the crisis and the rise of the new boom, but there was nothing empty about it, and nothing that felt like ogres belonged there. One person I sat down with, in discussing Alserkal Avenue and the growing independent artists (and creatives) around the city, the budding ‘scenes’ across the board, said something else, that I find hard to believe but also, paradoxically, highly plausible, almost like it’s the only real explanation: after the crash a few years ago, everyone who would have left did. The city was laid barren and those who stayed wanted to make the city their own. They exploded onto the streets and found a voice for themselves through the concrete and marble. Now that they refuse to go anywhere, they’re making their mark. She wanted to find a way to protect that mark, to make it stick (she might be wrong, but at least it’s a theory). And yet some (Vice) think that Dubai’s creative community should just self-combust and let the experts (in the West) take care of creating cultural movements. I prefer sticking with people who want to nurture creativity in unexpected places. What matters though is much simpler, more relevant to the individual. In one of the most synthetic cities in the world, life is finally being breathed into people and a soul is being nurtured, created, born. You kind of sense it. Everyone is doing something, going somewhere. Whether it’s for money or for some socio-political ideal or something more spiritual, more universal, like yoga. The arts scene is flourishing. Somehow, the crash that sent tens of thousands flying out of the city has given it the grounding it needed to become a place of organic growth. A breeding ground for entrepreneurship, experimentation, and evolution. I want to be there, and I’ve met many others who do too.
AN ARTIST-LED FAIR OF COMMISSIONED WORK IN THE HEART OF DUBAI Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority SIKKA 2013 features an entirely commissioned programme of visual art projects from Emirati and locally-based artists across the UAE and this third edition is growing further afield to present fresh creations in film, music and the performing arts. Special events include outdoor film screenings, live music and entertainment, cultural walks, artist-led talks, workshops and educational activities, plus an open-studios exhibition from the Artists-in-Residence (A.i.R) Dubai. SIKKA offers a unique moment in Dubai’s cultural calendar, introducing an alternative element to Art Week’s flow of artistic thought and endeavour.
14 – 24 March 2013 Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood
INFO@SIKKA.AE FACEBOOK.COM/DUBAICULTUREARTSAUTHORITY t@DUBAI_CULTURE SIKKA.AE