Pop-culture highlights from across the region – Arab News

eL Seed

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‘Like Her’
The French-Tunisian artist unveiled his latest large-scale calligraffiti project last month. It was created in the small village of Giranchour, Nepal — one of many settlements in the country that was devastated by the April 2015 earthquake that left hundreds of thousands of Nepalese homeless. In Giranchour, the artist explained on Instagram, “some women got trained in construction work, while others learned how to produce their own earthquake-resistant bricks.” In the village, eL Seed worked with a team of 12 women “who helped me create a giant art installation that spread all around the village connecting each house to another, linking each women’s story to the other.”
His work is a rendering of the words, “There is nothing between us, nothing at all. Your eyes have tears, just like my own” — a quote from the late Nepalese activist Yogmaya Neupane, “a modern icon in the contemporary fight for gender equality and social justice,” he explained.
“I believe artists have a social responsibility to inspire, ignite and implement change,” eL Seed continued. “‘Like Her’ intends to raise up the women in this remote community and bring to light issues facing (them), and women all over the world, while sharing their beautiful stories of wisdom, strength and resilience.”

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‘Our Tale’
The influential Lebanese duo’s latest video, directed by Sarah Huneidi, is for a track taken from their recently released EP “Eternity.” “Our Tale,” LUMI explained on Instagram, was written after the horrific Beirut Port explosion of August 4, 2020. It reflects “anger, irony, some dignity and the longing for something better, for some grandness, goodness inside us to take over.”
The accomplished new release is built on discordant electronica over which vocalist Mayaline Hage half-speaks, half-sings lyrics bemoaning the state of Lebanon: “I live in this country/Oh, we made such a mess/The darkest of lords/Are still enjoying their fest/Tell me my brothers/Where did we bury our memory?/ What poison made us forget our truth on this journey?”
81 Designs x Nada Debs

‘On Belonging’
This collaboration between Lebanese designer Nada Debs and UAE-based social enterprise 81 Designs is the result of a six-month project inspired by Palestinian artist Nabil Anani’s “In Pursuit of Utopia” — which Anani described as a vision of his homeland as “a prosperous, thriving place free from occupation; a land that takes pride in its nature and parades it jubilantly; a dream worth pursuing.” The collection consists of seven crafted pebble chairs and straw lamps designed by Debs and created by artisans in 81 Designs’ workshop in Lebanon’s Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp. “My work is about identity, restoring and elevating traditional craft and instilling a sense of belonging,” Debs says in a press release. “By revisiting roots and working with refugee artisans, this project was an infusion of identities and a heartfelt dialogue conveyed via craft, relaying messages of hope and freedom, dignity and identity.”

‘Chemistry & Reevaluation’
This Egyptian-German duo — vocalist and pianist Lina Farah and percussionist and “electronics” player Till Menzer — have released an ambitious new record that blends Middle Eastern influences and Western sounds. The decision to release a double album was fueled, in part, by a desire to honor their past in prog-rock outfit Kassiopeia while also focusing on their newer, more pop-focused direction. “But we still have songs that have a very progressive vibe and I was wondering how to combine both sides,” Farah explains in a press release. So, “‘Chemistry’ has a more rounded pop sound and represents feelings and emotions. ‘Reevaluation’ is about thoughts and has a more progressive sound,” while the track “Morning” acts as “a bridge between the two.”
“At first, I was skeptical,” Farah says in the release. “But I realized that both sides of the album represent two sides of the same coin and some songs complement each other and have small parts of the other side.”
Nuhayr Zein

The Egyptian designer is showing her ottoman/table and bag from her “Seeds” series as part of Dubai-based art facility Tashkeel’s Tanween design program during Dubai Design Week. Zein’s recent work has been focused on developing a plant-based leather alternative for use in furniture and fashion. According to her bio on Tashkeel’s website, Zein’s practice “is rooted in identity, responding to cultural, social and environmental contexts while celebrating the transformational qualities of spaces and materials within the passage of time.”
DUBAI: “Wonder Woman” actress Gal Gadot will land in Dubai next month to attend an event celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities at Expo 2020 Dubai.
The two-day event will kick off at the France Pavilion on Dec. 3 and is being staged by Better World Fund, a Paris humanitarian initiative that has organized a series of high-level events across the world, including Monaco, Cairo, New York and Venice, since 2016.
The program at the France Pavilion that includes a two-hour presentation on innovation for disabilities and an economic roundtable with UAE businessmen. 
Additionally, a conference will bring together global leaders in the field of disabilities, such as triple paralympic champion Marie-Amélie Le Fur, to tackle issues around disability.
Guests can also enjoy a film screening by local director, Fadel Al-Mheiri, titled “Dear Mother,” a four-minute animation about life with disabilities.
On Dec. 4, Gadot, along other Better World Fund patrons musician and songwriter Melody Gardot, opera singer and actress Gabriella Zanchi and violinist Sir Clifford LeRoy Edwards, will attend a star-studded gala dinner and charity auction followed by an awards ceremony at the Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah.
Funds raised at the gala dinner will support the work of Dubai Cares, a UAE-based global philanthropic organization.
Through her empowering movie roles, Gadot has inspired many people to go beyond their limits. Carmela Chillery Watson, a six-year-old girl who has a muscular dystrophy,  made headlines for walking a kilometer daily for 30 days dressed in a Wonder Woman costume. “The true Wonder Woman,” is how Gadot described the girl.
The “Red Notice” star also donated more than $4,600 to Watson’s fundraising page in aid of Muscular Dystrophy UK and tweeted a message of support, saying: “You’re a true hero. So inspiring and strong. I hope one day we get to meet each other.”
Watson thanked Gadot in a recorded video message, saying: “You help me fight on living with muscular dystrophy and inspire me to do my exercise daily to help me stay strong… you help me and other children have hope.”
DUBAI: Dubai is sharing the art world’s delight in the thriving art scenes on the African continent with a new show opening on Sunday at Christie’s Dubai showroom that features prominent emerging and established painters from West Africa.
Entitled (West) African Renaissance and on until Dec. 14, the exhibition showcases the vibrantly colored works of several pioneers in what is frequently being dubbed a “renaissance” for modern and contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora.
The show is being staged by Gallery 1957, one of Ghana’s premier spaces for modern and contemporary art. On display are works by Ghanaian artists Gideon Appah, Kwesi Botchway, Joshua Oheneba Takyi, Lord Ohene Okyere Bour, Annan Affotey, Serge Attukwei Clottey, Isshaq Ismail Godfried Donkor, Arthur Timothy and Afia Prempeh, as well as works by Nigerian painters Oliver Okolo, Juwon Aderemi, and Peter Ojingiri.
“Our focus has always been to support the careers of West African artists, and to ensure they continue to reach new audiences on the global stage,” said Marwan Zakhem, founder of Gallery 1957.
“We continue to provide opportunities for our artist to engage with different communities and be visible to a wider international audience,” Zakhem told Arab News. “While this is our fourth time showing our artists in Dubai, we feel there is now a growing appetite for works by African artists in the region.”
“Promoting this exhibition on the international stage is a key priority for us,” Michael Jeha, chairman of Christie’s Middle East said. “Following our collaboration with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, partnering with Gallery 1957 to present this exciting exhibition featuring so many of the leading names from West Africa is a perfect extension of our recent initiatives.”
“Dubai is a hub to so many different nationalities and collectors from around the world, so bringing contemporary African art to the city seemed only natural as we look to continue to internationalize art from this region and to expose it to an even wider audience,” he said.
The present exhibition reveals the emphasis artists placed on portraiture and figurative abstraction — a growing trend over the past few years in works by many artists from the African continent, particularly from West Africa, as they focus on the people and symbols that make up their daily domestic, personal and public lives.
LONDON: Would “Tiger King” be the global phenomenon it is now had it not coincided with the start of the global pandemic?
Would a documentary about strange American big-cat owners, and a bafflingly absurd web of attempted murder plots and animal cruelty, have been so well received if we had not all been confined to our homes?
Whatever the reason, the show’s seemingly never-ending supply of surprise developments or fresh absurdities won a lot of fans — and made a second series somewhat inevitable.
The fact that the ostensible “star” of “Tiger King” — Joe Exotic — is barely in the second series suggests Netflix knows what a perfect storm the first season created.
Directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin have also trimmed the episode count down to five, perhaps in light of the fact that Exotic is currently in prison and unable to occupy as much of the spotlight as in season one.
Instead, the series follows a number of the ancillary characters in the wider “Tiger King” saga, as well as devoting an entire episode to further investigation of the disappearance of Don Lewis,former husband of Exotic’s nemesis (and fodder for a thousand memes) Carole Baskin.
What that means, unfortunately, is that “Tiger King” has morphed from a fascinating insight into an eccentric and deeply disturbing slice of American subculture into a series of soapboxes for a progression of grossly unpleasant, over-entitled characters to grasp what they see as their 15 minutes of “fame.”
There are more surprise twists with regards to who was really involved in the alleged murder plot, but each revelation feels opportunistic, and often the insight gleaned into the motivations of Exotic’s former colleagues amounts to little more than misogynistic rants against the government and faux bravado that borders on toxic masculinity.
It makes for a deeply uncomfortable watch. Without much in the way of tigers, or input from its principal character, the second season of “Tiger King” has little to offer.
LONDON: The Hotel de la Marine in Paris is to host a collection belonging to Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Thani, the cousin of the emir of Qatar.
The venue, which became the first museum in the French capital when it opened in the 18th century, housing a trove of royal art and furniture belonging to King Louis XV, had lain empty since 2015.
It recently underwent a €120 million ($135.5 million) renovation, to which Sheikh Hamad also committed €20 million.
He began amassing a personal art collection when he turned 18, with his haul now numbering around 6,000 items, spanning six millennia. 
Having initially wanted to find a space to exhibit his collection in London, he reached an agreement to use the Hotel de la Marine instead.
It is the latest case of Qatari investment in Paris, which is the home of football club Paris Saint-Germain, a subsidiary of the Qatar Investment Authority.
This week, items from Sheikh Hamad’s collection went on display for the first time, including an abstract sculpture from Western Asia Minor dating from 3,300-2,500 BC, and a West African terracotta head dating between 500 BC and 500 AD. The collection will remain on display for the next 20 years.
The collection’s senior curator, Amin Jaffer, told The Times that some of the items in Sheikh Hamad’s possession are too important and significant to be “hung any old how on a wall at home,” with much of it being kept in storage for years, except when loaned out for display at other museums.
“It is really the initiative of someone who is passionate about works of art and a philanthropist at heart,” Jaffer said, calling the collection at the Hotel de la Marine a “message of universalism and a dialogue across civilisations.”
PARIS: Twelve people will stand trial in Paris over a $10 million jewelry heist targeting Kim Kardashian West in 2016, authorities said Friday.
The reality TV star said she was tied up at gunpoint and locked in a bathroom after armed robbers forced their way into her rented Paris apartment during fashion week.
After five years of investigation, investigating judges have ordered the case sent to trial, a judicial official said Friday. The 12 suspects face a range of charges related to the theft. No trial date has been set, and the official would not provide further details.
Kardashian West’s French lawyer did not immediately comment.
Several suspects have been released from jail pending trial for health reasons, including 68-year-old Yunice Abbas, one of the five men accused of carrying out the heist itself, who published a book about it last year.
The alleged mastermind, Aomar Ait Khedache, wrote Kardashian West an apology letter from his prison cell, saying he regrets his actions and realizes the psychological damage he caused.
At the time, a spokeswoman for Kardashian West said she was badly shaken but physically unharmed.


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