LIFE IN THE UNDERGROUND – Urban Culture Week 2017
Written by: Kingdome Staff
Photography: Salman Moghaddam and Fay Al-Homoud
Urban culture is well and alive in a country like Kuwait – there is plenty of access to music, films, literature and other art forms for the mind to explore. What is missing, however, is a consistent platform for these art forms to be cultivated, nurtured and expressed. It can be hard enough for men to find the perfect place to showcase their skills, but even more so for women. But thanks to the good people at Red Bull and their continuous support of the underground urban scene, there was no shortage of platforms or forms of expression from which to choose during this year’s Urban Culture Week.
You know those moments, after a long week, when all you want to do is blast some music on your headphones and dance it out of your system? You ever look at yourself in the mirror and think, “I’m pretty good at this! I really should pursue this dance thing.” I know I do. In my mind, I’ve won underground warehouse dance-offs with some of the baddest dancers out there… choreographed and all. And why not? What we lack is not the urge or the talent, but the guidance. This year, UCW’s hip-hop workshop invited women from across Kuwait to learn the style, moves and emotions behind this dance form, and for those who attended, it was a treat. Conducted by Asmaa Eidian, what was beautifully surprising was the diversity in attendance. Women of different ages, different nationalities and different sensibilities, all gathered under one roof to better their dance skills. Many of them were shy at first – barely talking to one another, sticking to their own spaces. Soon, that would all change. Leaving the workshop, there was a sense of triumph in the air. It was clear that the participants had taken away much from these two days of classes. They had learned how to get their kicks, slides and squats right, but what they also gained was an insight into themselves. The women that walked into the workshop were not the same who had walked out. Under Asmaa’s careful tutelage, what emerged was a group of women who had unlocked a part of themselves that often gets lost in a society such as the one we live in.
But, what if dance is not your thing? What if you’re one of those people who’s always admired abstract art from afar and thought to yourself, “I wish I could do that,” but the thought alone was daunting because “you can’t be taught to be an artist.” Or can you? Because as much as there are those born into this world with natural artistic inclinations, most are not. The difference is finding a style and an understanding of the different techniques that can help relay the ideas in your head, whatever they may be, into visual manifestations. A tribal Brazilian tornado hit K-town during Red Bull’s Urban Culture Week. Street-artist Fernando Chamarelli visited Kuwait for the first time and conducted a two-day workshop at Art Space.
Chamarelli, born and raised in Brazil, has a degree in graphic design and illustration. His work revolves around mosaic, geometric elements, organic forms and harmonic lines. His visual imagery connects symbols, legends, philosophies, religions, and customs of ancient and modern civilizations. Chamarelli has worked and exhibited his art in several countries of America and Europe. His artworks depict a world of exotic creatures that inhabit the mind of this emerging artist ever since a very young age. Chamarelli’s paintings are vibrant with colors and elements that transmute one into the other; a contemporary visual language that enables the viewer to travel through time and establish connections between ancient and modern times, East and West, interior and exterior and, most importantly, between the material and the spiritual. His most notable piece of advice? Never fear competition. “Sometimes the style may be similar but not to worry,” as everyone will always have “a hint of uniqueness and originality.” But there’s
more than one way to skin a cat, and not everyone is comfortable with the idea of paint and canvas. Have you ever watched an animation and thought to yourself, “where do these characters even come from?” Characters full of life, personality, quirks and mannerisms who weren’t real. They weren’t real until someone brought them to life. Enter, Digital Illustration. Led by Abrar Allahou, her mission was to highlight that characters are a product of their story. In order to create a character, one must first understand their backstory – we are, after all, a product of our experiences. Starting with the action line, from there, you move onto emotions – are they angry? Sad? Whether in their facial expressions or in the way in which they carry themselves. “Observe,” she says. Collect information, as much information as you can about your character, and slowly make your way down to the details.
But wait, there’s more. Don’t like dancing? Your hips just don’t move that way? We get it. Painting or drawing aren’t your thing? Hey, some people just don’t have that kind of hand-to-eye coordination, we get that too. Maybe you’re just a super analytical, binary ones and zeros kind of mind, but who says there’s no room for you in the world of artistic expression. Music. It’s hard to find a human being who doesn’t enjoy music. The genres are so many that there really is something for everyone. But have you ever considered making your own? Of course you have. And there’s no shortage of apps to help you, literally, right at your fingertips. It is the norm these days for young boys and girls to declare their DJ ambitions at least once in their teenage or early adult years. But amongst the thousands of misguided souls exists a group of serious, dedicated young people, who come alive at the thought of working a turntable or producing some music. Urban Culture Week’s DJ Workshop at the Promenade Mall, led by the brilliant DJ Gillermo, along with DJ Kade B and DJ Boiskout, gave them the chance to do just that. The combined mentorship of Gillermo, Boiskout and Kade B yielded such snippets as “when in doubt, loop it out,” “don’t be afraid to play something cheesy” and our personal favorite, “all you need is a heart.”