Cultures Meet in Halaqa [Archives:1997/50/Last Page]

December 15 1997

Halaqa has re-opened at a new location; the official opening was held Dec 12. Members of the board of directors received guests and artists from all over the world to celebrate the opening. In previous years the cultural group concentrated on the visual arts but from this year the accent is on diversity and change.
The Halaqa began the beginning of last year with the prime objective of promoting exchanges between artists and to integrate the different arts under one roof. As an NGO, it has tried to establish contacts between international associations and artists and the membership is steadily growing. There is a strong appeal to international contemporary visual arts, with participation from furniture designers to graphic artists but the association now intends to have poetry readings and music concerts as well as painting exhibits for the next year. As the national museum has not yet made space available for the contemporary artists according to previous agreements this new location near the sultan’s palace is like a breath of fresh cultural air. The day started off with an exhibition and workshop for children. They painted kalabasses and molded pottery in the morning. Pupils of the Fatima school participated at a puppet show and the school of Ira Addhagri organized a ballet dance. Video films were shown around noontime, followed by a demonstration on the printing press bu Nasseer El Zubairy. Then came the unexpected: folk dances from around the world, Indonesia, India, Southern France and of course Yemen participated. The costumes matched the vivid folklore as the Indian spun around wrapped in a richly coloured cloth. Then the Indonesian’s red and gold dress flared as precision movement of the her arms and legs brought an ever more exotic flavour to the encounter. The event was concluded by Yemeni boys flashing there jambia as they danced in a circle to traditional music. A poetry reading ensued; the theme was women issues and social relationships. Some poets gave recitals in Arabic while Francois translated to the English. One such poetess, Nabila Al Zubair recited poems on rejection and “becoming a man in five days. “Activities continued on into the evening with video films of Yemen followed by Yemeni dances, more film clips and then live music at 8:30.
French interior designer Francois Portas commented postively about Yemeni craftsmanship: ” Many people think Yemenis are not good craftsmen,” the French artist cited, ” I only want to say that thanks to them these original pieces were created. ” Francois proudly illustrated the use of simple local materials in the making of lamps, floor lamps and coffee tables; these included the”habash'” a grinding stone for grain that was adapted for almost every furniture piece on exhibit. Mr. Adib Shamas one of the organizers commented on the new centre: ” Halaqa has moved to a known location in the artisticcommunity. We have tried to make an exhibit of the Yemeni traditional dress as well as bring in musicians and artists.” Mr. Veerman, the Secretary General stated that as of January, Halaqa intends to issue a quarterly journal with articles from the past to the future as well as for the tourist. “Every month an evening will be devoted to music, dance, poetry and personal art exhibits,” he added. “There will be a children’s program on Fridays a monthly exhibit of Yemeni art plus 6 separate workshops to be organized separately. ” He also promised Yemeni poetry readings twice monthly. The journal will include work done by two Yemeni artists, two poets, two original articles about Yemeni archeology and a piece about a different Yemeni museum each month. There will be a cartographic map in the middle plus old photos of the capital. The magazine is not intended for publicity but for cultural and touristic interest.
Martin Dansky Yemen Times