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Arab Summer in London

Nermine Hammam Upekkha series

Art at the Mosaic Rooms

A solo show of the Egyptian artist Nermine Hammam at the Mosaic Rooms in London today, Friday. Featuring two of her recent works, Upekka and Unfolding, this exhibit examines the Arab Spring and continuous social change and rebellion in Egypt. Using mixed media, including photography, digital imagery, and painting Hammam’s work involve the layering of images in ways that are thoughtfully provocative. They ask challenging questions of the viewer that are fuelled by juxtapositions of artistic style and content that are often surprising and unsettling. In this way they can also be liberating in their willful breaking of boundaries and mixing of styles and form and the uneasy confrontations they provoke.

Upekka features images of soldiers against colorful and peaceful images of unspoiled and romantic nature – pastoral scenes, blue skies, meadows of flowers, and snow colored mountains. “The series examines youth in war, masculine frailty, and notions of power. By reclaiming these soldiers as individuals, the artist seeks to reveal the vulnerability of youth parading behind the weaponry and masculinity of the military, questioning the reality of power and its construction.”

Unfolding depicts images of Japanese landscapes mixed with images of violence of police brutality in Egypt, examining how individuals live in multiple and often contradictory worlds simultaneously: cruelty and abuse meted out by political and security authorities and the self-contained beauty found in art and nature, or the small and quiet pleasures of life that can resist even the most authoritarian efforts at domination.

On July 21 the Mosaic Rooms will host a conversation with Nermine Hammam about the exhibition and her current artistic projects.

Theatre

Fear of Breathing: Stories from the Syrian Revolution.
Other cultural programs in London this summer include the production of the play, ‘The Prophet’ at the Gate Theatre.

This play, running from June 14 – July 21 examines the revolution in Egypt through the prism of a Cairo couple who in addition to being at the center of revolutionary fervor because they live in downtown Cairo have their own personal upheavals to face simultaneously.

From July 17 through August 11 the Finborough Theatre is producing the world premiere of a play based on direct reports from Syrians during the ongoing uprising there, entitled Fear of Breathing: Stories from the Syrian Revolution. “To uncover these personal stories from the uprising, award-winning journalists Paul Wood of the BBC and Ruth Sherlock of the Daily Telegraph, together with the theatre director Zoe Lafferty, traveled into Syria covertly, circumventing the ban on journalists and restrictions on movement for all non-Syrians. Immersed in Syria’s suffocating environment of oppression and fear, they spoke to protesters facing tanks and guns, soldiers who deserted to form the Free Army, activists who dream of change, as well as citizens who love President Bashar al-Assad and are terrified of a future without him.”

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Noam Schimmel is a PhD candidate at the London School of Economics as well as a London-based researcher and human rights practitioner with extensive development experience in the field. He has worked in India, South Africa, Tanzania and Rwanda, and publishes research in a wide range of academic journals including the International Journal of Human Rights and the >em>International Journal on Minority and Group Rights.

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