Shubbak Festival Is Back

BY Katrina Kufer / Jul 6 2017 / 18:22 PM

The biennial art event celebrating Arab art and culture hits London’s streets again, but this time promises to look towards the future in a time of crisis

Shubbak Festival Is Back
Photography by Valerij Lisac. Image courtesy Shubbak, London.
Amal Omran, Hatem Hadawe and Kathryn Hamilton. Three Rooms.

Paying its due to an environment rife with fragility, resilience and challenges in the Middle East and Arab world, Shubbak’s fourth edition features over 150 artists from 14 Arab countries in 80-plus events that look to a brighter future. Spanning film, visual arts, performance and literature, its programming kicked off at the British Museum with talks and performances that highlighted how artists and institutions can survive in an age of conflict, censorship and cultural destruction. “The British Museum is an ideal location and partner to explore the multiple issues of preserving cultural heritage and the fragile situation of artists,” said Shubbak artistic director Eckhard Thiemann to The Art Newspaper. “There will be bold statements and brave works tackling urgent issues like migration and the desire for freedom,” he continued, “but we will also hear quiet, intimate and personal reflections which touch us with gentle emotions.”

While the full two-week programme can be seen here, upcoming highlights include Saudi Arabian artist Zahrah Al-Ghamdi’s intricate floor installation made of sand and found objects collected from abandoned villages in her home country (British Museum, Great Court); Where Activism & Imagination Intersect a conversation between Cairo-based psychiatrist and visual artist Basma Abdel Aziz specialised in victims of torture, and PEN director Jo Glanville, discussing injustice, torture, corruption from a fresh and female perspective (12 July, Free Word Centre); Kuwaiti artist Monira Al Qadiri’s The Craft, a semi-autobiographical Sci-Fi film and installation where international diplomacy is reimagined as an alien conspiracy (Gasworks); and Three Rooms, a performance by Amal Omran, Kathryn Hamilton and Hatem Hadawe that takes place live in Istanbul, London and Paris at the same time to address the visa-barriers and physical restrictions of political instability, notions of intimacy in confined spaces, the irreplaceability of people, and the impossibility of representation without the activation of external viewers (14-15 July, Arcola Theatre).

Shubbak runs 1-16 July across London. For more information visit

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