Sikka Art and Design Festival celebrates growth through art - GulfToday

Sikka Art and Design Festival celebrates growth through art


A music session holds the stage.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) is hosting the 10th edition of Sikka Art and Design Festival (Mar. 15 — 24) with over 60 performances, covering cinema, musical performances, artistic activities and poetry nights.

Under the theme ‘Celebrating Art, Celebrating Growth,’ this year’s festival features a programme involving cinematic screenings, animations, performances and digital artworks, granting art enthusiasts access to global creations and Dubai’s cultural community members.

It promotes cultural tourism in the emirate and is in line with the ‘Dubai Destinations - Dubai Art Season’ campaign launched under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Media Council.


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The festival opened with a Vietnamese folklore performance under the umbrella of Vietnam Night per the memorandum of understanding signed between the UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam for cultural cooperation, encompassing antiquities, heritage, arts and libraries.

This year sees the addition of Sikka House that features artistic installations and interactive spaces designed by Arhead, which specialises in content supported by augmented reality technologies.

From a private room inside Sikka House, the exhibition allows visitors to explore its exhibits and enjoy the work of digital artists, while touring the metaverse space.

A musician plays all the right chords.

Arhead is also displaying six AR and NFT sculptures, including works by three Dubai-based artists, FATSPATROL, Nevine Meguid (Nectar Designs) and Christopher Hunt (Distressed Design), as well as rising stars such as Dries Schaballie (Belgium), Ronen Tantrum (Israel) and Yyy (Turkey).

The AR exhibition covers the entire area Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, where visitors are able to access it using QR codes.

The cinema programme includes five nights of Arabic films, two nights dedicated for independent filmmakers (all presented by Locomotion Community Cinema), one night dedicated for local university student talents, and two nights of Arab shorts (Arab Shorts – Beirut Animated 5th edition) as well as a host of workshops and activities conducted by the Animation Chamber.

Among the most prominent local Arab films is a screening of ‘Al Ayyala, a traditional performing art of the UAE,’ being screened on March 22 with the support of the Ministry of Education. The film is produced by the students of the ‘Masterpieces’ programme and directed by Nayla Al-Khaja, the first Emirati female director.

Other local films participating include the historical film ‘Khorfakkan’ and ‘Kahlek Shanab’, as well as a group of independent films, a screening of a Japanese movie titled ‘The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness’ and a Saudi movie titled ‘Roll ’em’.

‘Beirut Animated’ presents prominent animation films on March 19 and 20, curated by the Animation Chamber as part of the fifth edition of ‘Beirut Animated,’ a biennial animation festival organised by Metropolis Cinema Association.

Among the distinguished artistic activities is Puppetry with The Factory, an initiative by Palestinian puppet artist Fairouz Nustas. The Factory is a reflection of where and how puppets with different mediums are made. Visitors will discover how to make puppets, step by step, from sketches, carving, sewing costumes, colouring and makeup, to the fun time of manipulating and putting life into this creation.

The working space allows visitors to experience the craft using tools, brushes and sewing machines as well as explore the style of shadow puppetry with light and shadow using different liquids and colours.

The Animation Chamber is a collective work by artists Lina Younes and Azim Al Ghussein. It embodies the constant quest for story-centered collaborations and present a space where worlds are created with one eye shut and the index finger as a wand.

From puppetry, animation, illustration and comics to film and performance, the work of The Animation Chamber is about suspending moments, replaying them, changing scenarios, playing out consequences, and then repeating. Impossible things happen in an instant; objects vanish, come to life, and are set off again in motion.

Through the ‘Digital Calligraffiti’ project, digital calligraphy transforms the walls of Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood into a painting for expression through a live display of calligraphy.

The street-style-inspired performance brings together digital calligraphy artists Michael Ang and Fatima Al Hammadi, video artist Tegan Ritz McDuffie and hip-hop artist Soultrotter (Philip Rachid), to form a new media fusion of calligraphy, graffiti, video art and live beats.

Digital Calligraffiti was initiated in Berlin by Public Art Lab, Don Stone, Hamza Abu Ayyash and Michael Ang.

The Hopper Majlis by Amal Anoohi is a place of gathering and togetherness, contrasting the heritage of Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood with the modern pieces of Studio Amal Anoohi’s Hopper Collection. The project captures the essence of Dubai’s urbanity as a city of the future that takes pride in its past.

Sikka also provides music enthusiasts with an ideal opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of live world-music performances that permeates the festival’s evenings and entertain its visitors throughout the 10 days.

Musical experiences on the main stage of the festival includes Emirati songs, Arabic songs accompanied by oud and oriental-instrument performances, pop music, music with eastern and western influences, rap poetry, jazz, indie and Indian pop, poetry nights and other popular tunes by artists from various nationalities and cultures.


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