What to expect as Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival returns for its eighth year
For the first time, the festival has chosen a central theme, 'Connected Communities', for its programming
Now in its eighth year, the Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival kicks off this Friday, January 31, with more than 100 artists from 33 countries participating in its programmes, which include film, photography, craft and visual art.
The 2020 iteration is the first time the festival has chosen a central theme: Connected Communities considers how communities are being redefined in our globalised world, and how art can be a powerful tool to foster relationships within them.
The festival’s exhibition site is on Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Jazirah Al Hamra or the Red Island, a coastal town with a historic village featuring a traditional souk, a fort and older mosques. It will house multiple exhibitions for the festival, which runs until March.
One of the highlight of this year’s festival is an exhibition and keynote by Kiliii Yuyan, an award-winning photographer known for documenting the lives of indigenous people across the Arctic. With Nanai (Siberian Native) and Chinese-American roots, Yuyan attempts to subvert the colonial narrative of the Arctic, focusing instead on its traditions, communities and ties to the land.
Breathtaking images from his series The People of the Whale, which captures the whaling traditions of the Inupiaq people in Alaska, will be on view, as well as his work The Women of the Iditarod, which shows female dogsledders as they prepare for a 1,000-mile race across Alaska.
For his talk, Yuyan will offer insights into crafting what he describes as a “larger photographic story” or building a visual narrative with each individual photo. “I’ll talk about how single photographs are made in a way that makes them powerful enough to fulfill a role within a story,” he says, adding that he will also cover important elements such as creating atmosphere and emotion in images.
Part of the festival’s programme is its film grant, which funds the production of short films relevant to the UAE and the Gulf. This year, the recipient Hamad Abdullah Saghran, an Emirati filmmaker, will present his work And What’s Next?, a 20-minute documentary film that examines the lives of retired people within the Emirati community. Through interviews, Saghran uncovers the psychological and existential effects of the transition from working life to retirement.
The rest of the film programme will include short films from across the Arab world and beyond, including Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Hungary.
Meanwhile, the art and photography exhibition brings together a diverse group of artists who utilise various materials and styles in their practices. Artist Gilda Jabbari presents her collage-like photographic compositions that borrow traditional elements from Iranian culture, while Argentinian photographer Andrea Alkalay captures our built environment in unique ways. Other exhibited artists include Anastasia Magni, Amani Al Mansoori, Karine Roche, Marina Roussou and Iswarya Rajeev.
A number of artists will also be sharing their skills through workshops for the duration of the festival. The mediums taught range from paper collage, 3D paper roll, clay, acrylic, mosaic and jewellery making.
Attendance to the festival is free. The full schedule of events can be found on rakfinearts.ae
Updated: January 27, 2020 12:46 PM