Along with the rest of the country, I was already in a hopeful mood with Hope Probe’s success as I sat down one weekend to scroll through the social media timelines of artists for pure soul satisfaction. Just a few minutes into it was enough to convince me that hope had returned to the world of arts as well. The ninth edition of the annual Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival (RAKFAF) with the theme of Hope, which opened on February 6, is just what the art calendar needed; with the artists thrilled to be once again at the Al Jazirah Al Hamra Heritage Village, RAK.
This year’s festival, adhering to international Covid-19 safety guidelines, has two additional mini-exhibition sites: the public viewing deck of the UAE’s highest peak Jebel Jais and the Open Park on Al Marjan Island. It’s been held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, organised by the Al Qasimi Foundation, and presented by Marjan. Speaking ahead of the opening, he’d remarked, “2020 was indeed the most challenging of years for our community and this year’s festival emerges at a crucial time, with an enriching program presented around the theme of Hope — a theme that seems so relevant in these unprecedented times and one that explores the strength and compassion that holds our community together.”
The theme reflects the reopening of the arts following the past year’s closures and the outdoor exhibition of art, photography and sculpture, present more than 130 artworks by artists from 49+ countries. The event rewinds to the past and explores the future through the lens of contemporary art at a time when hope is central to our daily lives. In a rapidly changing world of new technologies, urbanisation, climate change, and Covid-19, the festival is asking the critical question, how can hope inspire art, and art inspire hope? The Festival’s Director, Suqrat bin Bisher, remarked, “As we begin 2021, it is more important than ever that we come together as a community, in a safe way, to celebrate art, culture, and creativity.”
Works by local UAE artistes, alongside those from the wider MENA region like Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, and Iran are represented. “RAKFAF is one of my very favourite art festivals. I love the combination of the old pearl fisher village and the modern artworks,” said German artist Petra Kaltenbach. “We are all hoping to get out of this situation as soon as possible. We’re staying positive and believing that after every dark night there is a bright morning waiting for us,” added Pakistani artist Imran Manzoor.
Other highlights include the festival’s first-time partnership with Art Dubai and The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi to provide joint events. Artworks of birds by this year’s honorary guest artist Robert Clark, a National Geographic award-winning photographer is another must-watch.
To know more, log on to www.rakfinearts.ae; on until Saturday, April 3, 2021
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