My Cultural Highlights of 2015

A look back at my cultural highlights of the year. This includes events in the UAE and abroad.

Performing Arts in Abu Dhabi - NYU Abu Dhabi's inaugural season of performing arts
September 2015 - April 2016

With a line up that includes music, theater, dance, poetry and family programs - all free to attend, it was a much needed addition to the culture scene in Abu Dhabi and looking forward to seeing what's in store in the next season. 

Independently Run Film Screenings - Various film screenings in Dubai and Abu Dhabi


There was a plethora of screenings of classic films, documentaries, international films in both Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, thanks to Cinema Akil and Cinema at the Space. I have been posting their events on the blog throughout the year. Although they don't take place in proper cinema settings, it is still good to see this kind of activity happening and people getting introduced to films they've not seen before. We also had two mini film festivals promoting European cinema, FrancoFilm Festival and European Film Screenings held in cinemas in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Cinema Akil has been especially active hosting a series of pop up screenings at various events and running regular screenings at A4 Space in Alserkal Avenue. I look forward when Cinema Akil opens its permanent cinema space in 2016.

Art Talks

Slavs and Tatars - Satire in the Muslim World: Molla Nasreddin
NYU Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi
27th January 2015

Published between 1906 and 1930, Molla Nasreddin was a legendary Azerbaijani political satire read by an audience that stretched from Morocco to India. Arguably one of the most important periodicals of the Muslim world in the 20th century, the weekly addressed issues such as gender equality, education, colonialism, and Islam’s integration of modernity – all of which remain as relevant today as when the magazine was first published a century ago.

Haig Aivazian - To Neither Confirm Nor Deny that the Matter Neither Reflected Nor Absorbed Light
Campus Art Dubai
21st February 2015


A performance lecture by Haig Aivazian that looked at narratives emerging from visualizations of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn Affair linking the immaterial globalized financial economy and corporeal violence.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan - The Voice Before the Law
Global Art Forum, Art Dubai
18th March 2015

"Since 2010, Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s Aural Contract has been dedicated to understanding how we are being heard today and the changing nature of testimonies and interrogations in the face of new regimes of border control, algorithmic technologies, medical sciences, and modes of surveillance."

The Otolith Group - On the use and abuse of GIFs for life
Global Art Forum, Art Dubai
19th March 2015

Superscript:  Arts  Journalism  and  Criticism  in  a  Digital  Age
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA
28th - 30th May 2015

This conference was streamed live online, and it was great to be able to tune in from the comfort of my sofa in Dubai and watch some intelligent presentations and lively discussions. The conference was transcribed and all the talks were available online after the conference ended. It's a valuable resource for anyone interested in this topic. Head over here to see what I'm talking about.

Sharjah Art Foundation

Sharjah Biennial 12 - The past, the present, the possible
5th March - 5th June 2015 

Read my review and top 10 picks here.

© Hind Mezaina

Light Show
19th September - 12th December 2015

© Hind Mezaina

© Hind Mezaina

I wrote about it here.


Favourite Work Seen At Art Fairs

The Greatest Day by Fouad El Khouri
Galerie Tanit at Art Dubai
18th - 21st March 2015

ouad El Khoury, Installation view - "Le plus beau jour", 2013, Video/Sound Installation, Courtesy of Galerie Tanit

ouad El Khoury, Installation view - "Le plus beau jour", 2013, Video/Sound Installation, Courtesy of Galerie Tanit

This installation was first exhibited at Maison Européenne de la photograph last year, but I never had a chance to see it, so I was thrilled to see it in Dubai. The installation was made of El Khoury's photos with poetry by Etel Adnan.

Pipilotti Rist - Mercy Garden (from the Mercy Work Family)
Hauser & Wirth, Abu Dhabi Art
18th - 21st November

Pipilotti Rist — Mercy Garden from the Mercy Work Family, 2014 Audio video installation (video still) Music by Heinz Rohrer, Duration: 15’14” (loop) (Photo: © Hind Mezaina)

Pipilotti Rist — Mercy Garden from the Mercy Work Family, 2014 Audio video installation (video still) Music by Heinz Rohrer, Duration: 15’14” (loop) (Photo: © Hind Mezaina)


Exhibitions about the UAE

Emirati Expressions: Conventions of Art
Manarat Al Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi
Have a look at my photo review here.

Lest We Forget: Emirati Family Photographs 1950-1999
Warehouse 421, Abu Dhabi

See more here.


Live Shows

Andy Wahloo Tent
Meet D3, Dubai
2nd - 4th April 2015

© Hind Mezaina

© Hind Mezaina

I also referred to it as the Disco Tent. Read all about it here.


Alsarah and the Nubatones
The Music Room, Dubai
16th June 2015

© Hind Mezaina

© Hind Mezaina


Toshi Reagon - Octavia E. Butler's Parable of the Sower: The Concert Version
Black Box, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi
3rd September 2015

Toshi Reagon - Parable of the Sower- The Concert Version.jpg



Dengue Fever
Oslo,  London
29th September 2015

© Hind Mezaina

© Hind Mezaina

Welcome To Night Vale
Union Chapel, London
30th September 2015

Image via

Welcome to Night Valeis a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff's Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.

This show brilliant and hilarious. If it ever visits your city, don't miss it.

Tacit Group
Black Box, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi
12th November 2015

Image via NYU Abu Dhabi

Koreless and Emmanuel Biard
Al Manarat Saadiyat Auditorium, Abu Dhabi Art
20th November 2015

© Hind Mezaina

© Hind Mezaina