Rania Matar A Girl and Her Room
This month London has been hosting an incredible mix of creatives who've been involved in the events which continue to shake the Arab world in the first festival of contemporary Arab art . Shubbak – window in Arabic – is being organised by the office of the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who said Arab culture had had a significant influence on London for centuries – "the word Trafalgar even originates from the Arabic language. Shubbak offers something new, showing that the quality of contemporary art coming out of the region is brilliant and challenging.”
- Artists such as Mona Hatoum, and novelists Hisham Matar, Mohammed Achaari and Raja Alem, will encounter vivid strands of groundbreaking creativity. The most topical moment will be provided by Ramy Essam, whose song "Irhal" – which translates as "leave" – became the anthem of the anti-Mubarak Egyptian revolt. Arab cinema will include films by Ahmed Bouanani, whose work will be shown at Tate Modern. An exhibition at MICA Gallery called “From Facebook to Nassbook” interprets Cairo’s revolution through the work of nine Egyptian artists. “A Musical 360 Degree Revolution into the Arab World,” brought together Zeid Hamdan, who mentors Lebanon's underground music scene; Tamer Abu Ghazaleh, a Palestinian oud and buzuk player; and Maryam Saleh, an experimental singer from Egypt.
The HSBC-sponsored festival is proof that artistic relationships between London and the Arab world are becoming increasingly dynamic – not least through the presence of established organisations such as the AM Qattan Foundation, the Serpentine Gallery's Edgware Road Project, the Arab British Centre, The Delfina Foundation, Saqi Books and the Rose Issa Gallery.
Shubbak: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture, various venues, (www.london.gov.uk/shubbak) until 24 th July
Tania El Khoury. London International Festival of Theatre at the ICA. Photographer-Matthew Cassel