Blank Space Helps Art Flourish in the UAE

Artists and dozens of art enthusiasts gathered in Dubai Design District last weekend to collectively experience art- live paintings, art exhibitions, and an open mic event hosted by Blank Space in collaboration with Blue Cave Urban Art Festival.

Founded in August 2015, Blank Space is a monthly open mic event that gives artists around the UAE an outlet to express their art which includes poetry, music, stand-up comedy, and motivational speeches.

In regards to how Blank Space started, Mohammad Abdel Hakam, the co-founder of Blank Space said, “Me and my partner Mathani, we had been going to a lot of events. We were inspired by a huge event in Abu Dhabi called Rooftop Rhythms and a Dubai-based event called Poetry Slams.”

Hakam added that we need an art culture in the UAE because people here feel like they can’t express their feelings and feel limited. There is a void here, we don’t have many “clean platforms”, in contrast to clubs and bars, where people can showcase their art. Art allows people to express the good and bad sides of life, it’s real. Although it is hectic to plan these events every month, he realizes how worth it it is, and how much we need it.

The importance of such events, as well as art as a whole, was continuously stressed amongst audience members and artists alike.

Ziad Gadou, a poet, audience member, and performer at Blank Space said, “Art is probably the best thing that humans have come up with to express who they are and is the only thing that outlasts humanity in general.”

“This event represents a series of events that happen every month that allow us as a community, the youth and Arabs, to express ourselves because we do not have a place to speak. The UAE’s one of the few places where a bunch of people from different places show up and this is where we are represented as a multi-cultural melting pot.”

Hamza Hawsawi, winner of X-Factor Middle East, and audience member spoke about the event, “It was incredible for me because I’m new here in Dubai, so seeing so many young people, a lot of talents, and seeing how people are actually very deep and expressive, it’s something not very common in Dubai- I feel personally, Dubai being a city about looks. It’s incredible, I would definitely attend something like this again.”

Hawsawi continued, “For me, [art] is my life, my profession, and my outlet. An expression, and a way of life. It takes us out of whatever is shallow. It makes us express ourselves and makes other people relate. It brings out whatever is inside you.”

This is the first time Blue Cave Urban Art Festival has collaborated with Dubai Design District.

Cholo Juan, the organizer/manager of Blue Cave explained the process of organizing such events, “We gather all the artists, local-based and international artists, and curate the space to fit the urban theme. The process is stressful, but once you see people enjoying the event, it’s fulfilling.”

“The most important part about these events is the gathering of people. We want people to engage with the artists. The exhibition itself gathers artists from different parts of the world and it creates conversation within the artists and within the audience,” Juan said.

“We are breathing art, we are living with it and living it. Almost everything is related to art,” he said.

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