Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Amricani Cultural Centre: Behind-the-Scenes

The past couple of months, before the preview for the new Amricani Cultural Centre, have been hectic. We had the preview on February 24th, 25th, and the 26th for our VIP guests and an Open House on March 10th for DAI members. If you follow DAI’s Facebook page, you would have already seen photos from those nights (here and here). 

We were all working long hours until the last minute trying to get everything done on time. Everyone was working together in the office and at the construction site on everything from brochures, booklets, posters, lighting, exhibition text, captions, translating, invitations, installation, and the list goes on. 

While putting all our efforts in the completion of the new cultural centre, the office had to continue organizing the Cultural Season and focus on the ongoing international exhibition (currently al-Fann in Vienna).

Since most of my art history education was European art, and The al-Sabah Collection is art from the Islamic world, I had to do some studying for the exhibition and help prepare myself and my co-workers to be tour guides for the opening. I was also involved with assisting our exhibition designer and graphic designer in preparing, printing and installing the exhibition’s wall panels and captions.

The Amricani Cultural Centre has two exhibitions. One is permanent and the other is in the temporary gallery spaces. The exhibition I was involved with is the temporary exhibition entitled: Treasury of the World: Jewelled Arts of India in the Age of the Mughals. You might have read about it—if not, let it be something you discover when you visit the exhibition after the official opening.

Working on this exhibition was so exciting. I had to visit the site several times as we installed the wall panels. When the installation of the jeweled objects had to start, no one was allowed in the space for security. One of the days during installation I was able to enter the exhibition space and was just so overwhelmed. The diamonds, emeralds and rubies just lit the entire space and it was breathtaking. I have looked through the catalogue of this exhibition and marveled at the objects a hundred times! But when you see them in front of you, it is something completely different. People who had the chance to see them so far have been amazed and impressed by their beauty. I really can’t wait for the opening so everyone can visit and see these magnificent jeweled objects that have travelled the world and are finally exhibited in Kuwait for the first time.

All fuzzy images taken by iPhone. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Upcoming Events!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Abdulhadi Alajmi

Dr. Abdulhadi Alajmi is the vice dean of the College of Arts and a professor of history at Kuwait University. His areas of interest include Umayyad history, the history of women in Islam, orientalism, and Arab and Islamic civilisations-and he has published on each. 

Lecture: Women in Islam as Portrayed in Biographical Sources 

The survey illustrates that exploring the beginnings of Islamic civilization proves that the time of the Prophet included the highest number of women appearing in biographical sources. This makes the Prophet's time the richest in the context of the number of women. That of course can be explained in light of the importance of women as transmitters of religious knowledge and as figures of sacred history in the Prophet's journey. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Music Circle Concert

Organ Recital: Music Without Borders 

Speaker:  H.E. Yasuyoshi Komizo, Ambassador of Japan to Kuwait
Organ:  Maestro Valentina Maria Baginska 
Cello, presenter, assistant:  Karol Kusmider
Violin:  Takuya Matsunaga 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Upcoming Events!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ramzi Yassa

Programme: A selection of classical compositions

Mr. Ramzi Yassa is favourite of DAI audiences, having performed in three previous cultural seasons. He is a prize winning pianist and, in 2007, the first Egyptian performer musician to be awarded the French Merit Prize.
He is pianoforte professor at the Ecole Normale de Musique "Alfred Cortot" in Paris.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Book Club
(To find out more about DAI's Book Club, please visit our website)

Hope to see you at the events!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Upcoming Events!

Monday, 14 February, 2011

Anthony Peebles

Music Concert

AnthonyPeebles is an award winning concert pianist whose career was launched in 1971 when he won the BBC Piano Competition with an unanimous vote from the jury. Since then he has maintained a very busy performing career, with a remarkable amount of overseas travel.  

Hope to see you at the events!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Upcoming Events!

Monday, 7th February, 2011

Film: Words of Sand by Abdullah Hamad al Mekhyal 

Due to the prevailing turmoil in Egypt - Dr. Tamer el-Leithy had to cancel his lecture scheduled for Monday 7th Feb. 2011. We apologize for this cancellation; but are pleased instead to offer the chance to see the latest documentary from Abdullah Hamad al Mekhyal.Films by al Mekhyal have been featured on the National Geographic Channel. This film “Words of Sand” is no exception.

Wednesday, 9th February, 2011

Shehab Shehab 
Lecture: Seminar on excavations in Failaka Island

Hope to see you at the events!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Jewelled Dagger and Scabbard

Dagger and Scabbard
The al-Sabah Collection, LNS 25 J

One of the finest and frequently published objects from the al-Sabah Collection is this Indian dagger. This object from Mughal India dates from 1615-1620.

Weapons in the Mughal court were designed as a way to demonstrate the wealth and importance of its owner. The weapons, such as this dagger, were also considered symbols of authority and honor. They were often given as imperial gifts to persons of high rank.

The sheaths of the weapons were usually made of leather or velvet, but the most important daggers were set with hundreds of precious stones. The Mughal rulers were very fond of gem-set weapons.

This dagger and scabbard from the al-Sabah Collection is magnificently set with over 2,000 stones; consisting of rubies, emeralds, and diamonds among others. It may well be the most extravagantly luxurious dagger ever produced.  

Information provided by Treasury of the World: Jewelled Arts of India in the Age of the Mughals, Exhibition Master Pack, December 2008. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Upcoming Events!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Stefan Weber
Dr. Stefan Weber is the Director of the Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany. Currently, he is organizing the re-conceptualization of the Museum of Islamic Art/Pergamon museum, which will explore the new grounds in researching and communicating the legacy of art, architecture and archaeology of the Middle East and areas under Muslim rule. 

Lecture: Fragments of a Lost Past or Evidence of a Connected History: The role of urban artistic heritage in the new conceptualization of the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin 

The Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum, currently under renovation, will re-open with exhibition space of about 3.000 sq m. The layout and concept will open new innovative ways in presenting the cultural legacy of Muslim Societies to an international audience. The importance of urban artistic heritage in redesigning the museum will also be discussed. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Arabic Lecture

Abdallah al-Mekhyal
Falconry - documentary and discussion
عبدالله المخيال          

حديث الصحراء وثيقة مرئية حيه تعكس واقع الصحراء العربية المعاصرة صور في العديد من الدول العربية واستغرق وقتا طويلا في انتاجه لتوثيق الحياة الفطرية في الصحراء.
يحمل الفلم رؤية جديدة من خلال الاعتماد على الصورة مع المؤثر والموسيقى بدون تعليق فالصورة تغني عن ألف كلمة والصورة هي اللغة الحقيقية للسينما بدون ترجمة أو تعليق.

Hope to see you at the events!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Upcoming Events!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ahmed Sedky
Dr. Ahmed Sedky is an architect, urban management/urban conservation consultant and author. Currently, Dr. Sedky is senior development manager with Midrar Development Management in Jeddah, KSA.

Lecture: Conservation Qualities: Integrity, Authenticity and Sustainability 

When reviewing international conservation charters in this region, it is essential to deal with historical areas as a whole by emphasising the coherent systems dominating any historical urban fabric. Integrity, authenticity and sustainability--these three define environmental qualities should be integrated and dealt with as an inseparable whole. they should be envisaged as principle measures of success for any area conservation scheme essential for balanced living in a historical environment. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Music Circle Concert

World Music Fusion

Samy Ibrahim Group: presents in this concert a variety of pieces from different continents adapted to be performed by this unique ensemble of variant instruments:

Samy Ibrahim                  violin and piano
Meshaal Jomaa               clarinet
Ahmad Al-Sanea            cello
Ahmad Al-Sharabasi       nay
Abdallah Al-Beloushi      percussion
Abdallah Adnan              percussion
Mohamed Deshty           keyboard

Hope to see you at the events!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Upcoming Events!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Arabic Lecture

(For more info. click on image)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Music Circle Concert 
Yemeni Folklore

Hope to see you at the events!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Islamic Chinoiserie"

The lecture on Tuesday, January 11, 2011 was given by Yuka Kodai, a scholar at the Department of Asian Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Kodai was previously a curator at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar. The lecture was based on her most recent publication Islamic Chinoiserie: The Art of Mongol Iran.

“Islamic Chinoiserie,” a term Kodai had coined herself, examines the Chinese contribution to artistic explosion in Islamic Iranian art under the Mongols.

Iran was conquered by the Mongols and was ruled by the Ilkhanids meaning “subordinate to Great Khan of China”. This resulted in a significant amount of cultural interaction between East and West. The lecture focused on how Chinese artistic styles were evident in Iranian art under the Mongols through textiles, ceramics, metalwork and paintings.

The Mongol were very interested in textiles and used it as a form of art propaganda. Textiles were portable objects and this allowed the Mongols to use them as symbols to express their social status. When Eurasia was conquered by the Mongols, there was an exchange of people, goods and ideas between East and West. Textiles were one of the products that most aided in the transmitting of ideas and artistic style between East and West. Through imported textiles in Iran, Chinese artistic concepts were adopted. Examples are images of dragons and phoenixes.

The typical Chinese dragon is depicted having a‘s’ shape body with an emphasis on the flames from the snout and its four legs with large claws. Iran depicted dragon-like creatures as a snake, but after the Mongol invasion, Iranian depiction of dragons incorporated Chinese style but was combined with their own decorative motifs. The dragon symbolized the emperor of China, but Iran transferred the symbol to refer to the Mongol rulers in Iran.

The Chinese phoenix was also reworked in Ilkhanid Iran. The typical Chinese phoenix would be depicted with a long impressive tail and a distinctive face within a naturalistic setting or background. Iranian depictions of the Chinese phoenix were more geometrically composed and symmetrical.

Ceramics are another important export from China. Many of the Chinese ceramic pieces, designs and styles were copied by Iranian potters as well as adopted with more added decorative elements.

One interesting image that was adopted in Islamic Iran from China was the lotus motif, which appears in textiles, manuscripts, metalwork and architectural decorations. The lotus motif originates from Buddhist China. It had a strong symbolic meaning referring to purity and the Buddha. Islamic Iran adopted this lotus motif and adapted it to their designs creating a more stylized version than the Chinese lotus. Perhaps the lotus acquired a new symbolic meaning in the Islamic Iranian context. 

Iconography in paintings clearly displays the multi-religious environment that was taking place in Ilkhanid Iran. Paintings combined Christian, Buddhist, and Islamic iconography. The example Kadoi discussed was a painting of The Annunciation (a Christian subject matter). The painting depicts the Virgin Mary surrounded by Islamic architecture with a Buddhist style influence.

Kadoi concluded by explaining how her research in Islamic Chinoiserie examines the Islamic admiration and understanding of Chinese style and techniques and how that was fundamental in developing Iranian Islamic art during and after the Mongol invasion.

The lecture was very interesting and I find it fascinating to discover how Islamic art is diverse and how Islamic artists had absorbed artistic styles from different cultures and religions and incorporated them into their own style. The result is a mixture of different elements, iconography and motifs each with its own history brought together under the art of Islam.  

Monday, January 10, 2011

Upcoming Events!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Moderated by Mr. Ahmed Khajah

In Search of Understanding: The Foundation for a Culture of Peace

In Search of Understanding is a public diplomacy initiative fostering the culture of peace created and carried out by Dr. Mohamed Kazem, counselor at the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, currently seconded to the Foundation for a Culture of Peace.

The initiative aims at the alleviation of problems related to mutual lack of understanding and distorted stereotypes and negative imagery among people of the world. This will be accomplished through a synergy of diplomacy, lyrics, music and photos. This synergy is used to stress what is shared and common among us all, ideally culminating in enhanced mutual understanding and acceptance.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 (Added Lecture)

Ms. Yuka Kadoi

Lecture: Islamic Art at the Crossroads: Iran and China under the Mongols

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Book Club
(To find out more about DAI's Book Club, please visit our website)

Hope to see you at the events!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Upcoming Events!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Efim A. Rezvan
Dr. Prof. Efim A Rezvan is the deputy director of the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences and the author of more than 250 research works published in ten languages; including several on Qur'anic studies and Russian-Arab relations.

Lecture: The Account of Two Russian Travelers to Kuwait and Ethiopia

A Russian journalist, Sergey Nikolaevich Syromyatnikov (1860-1934) was sent to Kuwait on a secret mission in 1900. Recently his notes, some related to his mission, were found in a private hiding place.

In 1913 the Saint-Petersburg Kunstkamera Museum provided funds and set goals for celebrated poet Nikolay Gumilyov's journeys to Ethiopia. The poet had brought back not only ethnographic and manuscript collections, but also impressions that inspired a number of poetic works, which are today considered treasures of Russian literature.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Music Circle Concert
Indian Classical Music

Hope to see you at the events!

LNS 193 W a

The 13th and 14th century was the fall of the Muslim rule in Spain. The Nasrid kingdom in Spain was the last Islamic kingdom in Western Europe.

This door panel is from the late 14th century. It is 143 cm high and 95.5 cm wide. The interlace design of this door, with its eight-pointed stars and the straight borders forming square panels, is typical of the geometry of Islamic Spain.

This object is currently exhibited in “al-Fann: Art from the Islamic Civilization” in Palazzo Reale, Milan until 30th January, 2011.