The best of Shubbak 2017: in quotes

Vision rounds up an inspiring 16 days of panel discussions, fine art, performance and much more at London’s biennial festival of contemporary Arab culture

Speaking to Vision ahead of Shubbak 2017

Eckhard Thiemann Shubbak Festival 2017
Eckhard Thiemann has worked in culture for over 30 years

“This year we are seeing a number of works that particularly explore the role of heritage and the past, and culture and migration. What is important for us to hold on to? What do we cherish? How do we understand ourselves in relation to the past, and where we are now? What we see are very different manifestations.”

- Eckhard Thiemann, Artistic Director, Shubbak

Survival of the Artist, British Museum

Hammad Nasar
Hammad Nasar spoke on the Representing the Artist panel at Shubbak 2017

“Art has a wonderful capacity to be many things at once, from political urgency philosophical inquiry.”

- Hammad Nasar, curator, National Pavilion UAE at the Venice Biennale

Imagined Future Shorts, Barbican Centre

Larissa Sansour Barbican Centre
Palestinian director Larissa Sansour's films have taken a turn away from documentary-style, favouring the surreal

“My earlier films were more realist, but I found that people didn’t want to see the truth. [Science fiction] gave my films honesty and dimension.”

- Artist and filmmaker Larissa Sansour on the storytelling power of sci-fi and surrealism during difficult times

And Here I Am, Arcola Theatre

And Here I Am Ahmed Tobasi
One-man-show And Here I Am is powerfully performed by refugee Ahmed Tobasi

“Theatre is my weapon.”

- Ahmed Tobasi discusses performance in times of conflict, in his one-man-show And Here I Am

For the Absent Ones, Arcola Theatre

For the Absent Ones Arcola Theatre
The audience at For the Absent Ones was greeted by a single pair of headphones in preparation for an innovative audio theatre performance

“I will not ask you to close your eyes, rather open them more.”

- An absent artist speaks to the audience through headphones in an intimate audio performance of For the Absent Ones, a commentary on travel restrictions by theatre artists Abdullah Alkafri, Moez Mrabet, Jon Davis and Jonathan May

Speaking to Vision during Shubbak 2017

Hammad Nasar
Hammad Nasar is curator of the National Pavilion UAE at the Venice Biennale

"We too often think of ‘home’ or ‘nation’ as being defined by passports and ethnicity, but ‘home’ and ‘nation’ are both cultural constructs. Home is the food we eat, the stories we share, the songs we sing and the games we play.”

- Hammad Nasar on the role of nationality in a globalised world

Writing Against the Grain, British Library

Shubbak at the British Library 2017
The Writing Against the Grain panel explored the most urgent issues for the contemporary Arab writer

“I believe in culture, in literature, to change society. It is the mission of intellectuals.”

- Writer Ali Badr

“Arab writers use literature to take control of the narratives that have been taken from them.”

- Author Ghazi Gheblawi