Those lucky enough to be in London right now will enjoy a spectacular treasure trove of culture from the Middle East. Each year the city hosts the Nour Festival featuring visual art, literature, music, and performance — this year, from fifteen countries. Appropriately, the themes of this year’s festival focus on topics of displacement and conflicted identity as millions of people are driven from homelands by war forcing them into exile and causing them to face challenges that migration brings.
The Nour Festival takes place October and November in venues across the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Originally a grass-roots education program part of the Leighton House Museum, the festival has expanded to a world-renowned cultural event attracting audiences and artists globally. Some of the art and events include:
The Arab Puppet Theatre Foundation (above) infuses humor and satire to portray the migration and exile experience. Part puppetry, part performance art, their approach is using props and sets as symbols to covey the challenges faced by those leaving their homelands.
Iraqi trumpeter, Amir ElSaffar with the Two Rivers Ensemble perform a fusion of jazz and Iraqi maqam — a centuries-old musical style.
French-Moroccan novelist Tahar Ben Jelloun will hold a discussion with Lulu Norman and Rosie Goldsmith in the Mosaic Rooms following the publication of his new novel, About My Mother, a story about a mother and son, and their experiences with sickness, memory, and loss.
Choreographer Salah El Brogy premiers GLITCH, created in response to collaborator Alice Anderson’s idea that “Memory only exists when it is recalled.” A post-performance discussion will cover the science of memory and how to fortify memory too.
The Brothers Osama, Basil, and Elia make up the Khoury Project, honoring classical Arabic music, they also infuse eclectic global elements of opera, jazz, flamenco, Celtic, and Indian music. Sometimes partnering with other musicians and orchestras, sometimes creating music that supports narrative stories, their projects attract international attention.
French-Lebanese singer, Ellene Masri performs music from her debut album, Music. A singer-songwriter and producer, she also colors Middle Eastern tradition with international musical influences.
The Writing of Art exhibition features contemporary versions of Persian and Arabic script art from Iranian artist, Katayoun Rouhi (shown); Graham Day (United Kingdom); Hanieh Delecroix (Iran); Parastou Forouhar (Iran); Farnaz Jahanbin (Iran); and Khaled Ben Slimane (Tunisia).
Kuwati photographer Ali al-Zaidi’s images, often taken for National Geographic, provide viewers with intimate glimpses of people around the world. Funny, expressive, and beautiful, he captures his subjects warmly and humanly.