12th edition of Ras Al Khaimah Art 2024 Festival being set in motion - GulfToday

12th edition of Ras Al Khaimah Art 2024 Festival being set in motion


Ephemeral Whispers symbolises unity.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Ras Al Khaimah Art, the year-long cultural initiative for established and emerging artistic talent, has announced details of the Ras Al Khaimah Art 2024 Festival (Feb. 2 – 29). The 12th edition will officially open at the Al Jazeera Al Hamra Heritage Village. Curated by award-winning photographer Alfio Tommasini and embracing the theme of In Motion, the Art Fest, presented by Aldar, is aimed at being an immersive and sensory cultural experience for visitors, with bridges across heritage and modernity. It includes a curated display of the works of over 100 artists as well as inspiring masterclasses, public talks and live performances. Commenting on the theme of this year’s festival, Tommasini said: “In Motion challenges the concept of a new “normal” and beckons you to embrace the constant evolution of our diverse world. From generative AI and NFTs to space journeys and environmental movements, our Festival celebrates and critiques the power of motion and change, bringing together a variety of artforms whilst stimulating dialogue between artists, authors, creatives and the community.”

Across history, he notes, the drive to explore has propelled both human progress and artistic inspiration. Artists plunge into uncharted realms, navigating landscapes and dimensions to unveil diverse connections and cultures. “Guided through the enchanting Al Jazeera Al Hamra Heritage Village, visitors traverse storied pathways, encountering captivating installations by local and international artists that harmonise with this year’s Festival theme: In Motion. Amidst this evolving scene, movement becomes an opportunity to discover new cultures, reconnect with forgotten histories, and celebrate uniqueness. This Festival unveils more than art — it reveals a story flourishing in this remarkable place, a testament to our human journey.” New for 2024 is the addition of The Souq, a contemporary art exhibition and market featuring artists and craftspeople from across the world. Another addition is Ephemeral Whispers, a kinetic art installation on the Fort tower, symbolising unity, and the nature of human interaction, in response to the exhibition theme (In Motion) and the history of Al Jazeera Al Hamra Heritage Village. The fabric installation blends contemporary and traditional materials from diverse cultures, suspended like tapestries, and serving as visual metaphors for the heritage and experiences facilitated by marketplaces throughout history.

In addition to the curated exhibitions, the festival will also host a series of interactive experiences and live performances. Visitors are expected to unleash their creativity with a programme of artistic workshops, from wire knitting and resin ocean art to photography and ceramics, along with enjoying musical experiences, stand-up comedy, and other performances with Live Performance Saturdays. Guests will also have the opportunity to engage in discussions on culture, innovation, and sustainability with a six-part speaker series and indulge in a diverse array of screenings with Friday Film Nights, featuring documentaries and narratives from award-winning directors.

Alfio Tommasini at the mike.

Foodies will also be well catered for with the return of award-winning cultural heritage dining experience, Antica Australis. Featuring four-course set menus starring local organic produce from Ras Al Khaimah, Australian native ingredients and Emirati flavours, Antica Australis will present a limited series of lunch and dinner events over three weekends during the Festival from February 3 - 18. Alert: Seatings are limited to 20 covers and advance booking is essential. Meanwhile, pet owners and animal lovers are invited to explore the festival with a dedicated Pet-Friendly Weekend (Feb. 9 – 11). Not only will four-legged friends be welcomed to explore the fest, but owners can also participate in unique events and workshops including pet collar/harness art, pottery nametag painting, pet photography and pet fashion shows, taking place throughout the weekend. The relationship one has with the territory he lives in is the point of interest for photographer Tommasini. Born and raised in Vallemaggia in Switzerland, he lived for several years overseas (United Kingdom, Central America and Spain) and then returned to his roots, drawn by his affection for the Swiss mountains. He is co-founder and director of Verzasca Foto, a festival which, through exhibitions in dialogue with the nature of the Verzasca valley in Switzerland, aims to bring together and promote photographers from all over the world, supporting visual arts in rural areas.

He has exhibited his works internationally and has received awards such as first prize at the international Encontros da Imagen festival, first prize at Phodar Biennal and a bronze medal at the Sony World Photography Awards. His images have been published in magazines and newspapers such as The Guardian, British Journal of Photography, Le Temps Magazine, The North Face Mountain, Jiazazhi Press China and Burn Mag. One of his publications is the book Via Lactea (Journey into mountain agriculture) published by Edition Patrick Frey.

Since its inception in 2013 under the patronage of Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research, Ras Al Khaimah Art has evolved from a modest gathering of 30 emerging local artists to one of the Emirate’s premier art and cultural showcases. Formerly known as the Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival, the rebranded Ras Al Khaimah Art strives to transcend conventional boundaries, and serve as a dynamic creative hub for nurturing talents, both local and international. It is sought to be accomplished through the provision of grants, masterclasses, workshops and year-round events. The seamless blending of contemporary and traditional art forms spark vibrant discussions among artists, authors, creatives, and the wider community, set amidst the hospitable cultural diversity of Ras Al Khaimah’s heritage.



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