Artist Mona Fares paintings at Sikka Art Fair in Bastakiya, Dubai

Sikka Art Fair is an integral part of the Art Week events in Dubai.  Hosted by the galleries in the Al Bastakiya district, Sikka brings together local artists to celebrate their work.  The weeklong event this year was organized by the Dubai Culture Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) to provide local artists a platform to publicly showcase their talent.

The concept behind Sikka is to provide talented local artists a support group and network, while also bringing together artists and the audience to mingle and associate with each other.  The idea is to foster dialogue, raise cultural awareness and promote emerging and established homegrown artists.

Earlier in the year the organizers invited local artists to submit site-specific works to be displayed at the event.  The chosen projects were shortlisted and handpicked by a selection committee consisting of curators, artists and an architect.  The artists were given full creative freedom to express their work through any medium including video, performance, sculpture and traditional media.  The never seen before, exclusive works of the 23 artists chosen were innovative, uniquely expressive and sent out powerful messages.

Amongst some of the most thought provoking works was the sound installation ‘Unees Sau Chauraasi – A Dystopian Qawwali Party’, by UBIK.  The soulful Qawwali (Sufi music) sung by the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan from Pakistan, arose forcefully under the murmur of the monotone narration of ‘1984’, George Orwell’s book on the power of governments and lack of privacy.  The music was specifically chosen to remind the audience of the Indians that helped build Bastakiya, while at the same time letting them reflect on the contrast between the state and its propaganda and the individuals and their freedom of expression.

People enjoy Martin Pakvis' art installation titled Peak Oil

Other works included the Emirati Mariam Abbas’ work titled ‘Karam: A Tribute to Generosity’.  The series is a depiction of intricately detailed typically Dubai local scenes.

The Fridge, a creative music agency based in Dubai and known for promoting local artists, collaborated with Sikka, to organize free music, poetry, theatre and dance performances in various courtyard in Bastakiya.  With artists ranging from Shay performing ‘Isles of Dreams’, a song about hope and freedom to the colorful Kinetic art performance by Chokra.  Each of the artists in the long line-up gave strong and inspirational performances to an enthralled audience.

Jam Jar organized art workshops for children and adults for the Family Day.  The designed program was focused towards educating the attendants on various artistic methods – these included different ways to draw, making complex patterns with color and weaving and using recycled materials.

Dedicated stalls selling all sorts of souvenirs, arts and craft and food were also set up in the form of a mini souk.

The entrance was open to the public free of charge.  Throughout the week, the usually quiet alleyways of Bastakiya came alive with the echoes of art, poetry, drama and music.

Crowd gathers at the Bastakiya to watch performance by artist Chokra

– Saira Malik

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