Holland Festival: unraveling hidden stories

The 72nd edition of the Holland Festival, the largest international festival of performing arts in the Netherlands, has again sensed the spirit of the age. News & Noise attended two fantastic artworks that are exemplary: The Head & The Load of William Kentridge – about the history of Africans in the First World War, and Los Incontados: un tríptico of Mapa Teatro – about the civil war in Colombia.

The Head & The Load (photo: Stella Oliver)
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The Lion of Egypt in Amsterdam

Amsterdam – The Egyptian pop star Hakim (aka the Lion of Egypt) gave an unique performance on the 21st of September in the Melkweg in Amsterdam.  The announcement of the concert on Melkweg’s website accurately described Hakim as an innovator of both the Jeel, popular youth music style, and the more folky dance Sha’bi. This is a story worth telling as it gives an idea not only about an important chapter in the development of popular music scene in Egypt, but also about how it always relates to and interacts with the different social classes. For decades there has been a musical answer offered to fit the social mobility and changing tastes of different classes. Let’s go briefly over this story before commenting on the fantastic show he gave in the Melkweg.

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“Share the vibration” – an interview with Walid Ben Selim

News and Noise! was invited to a musical event at the Immigration detention center or asylum seekers reception center (AZC for short in Dutch) located at a former military hospital in Utrecht. Moroccan poet, musician and spoken word artist Walid Ben Selim (N3erdstan) gave performances. This event is a collaboration of the organizations Vrolijkheid and Culture Connection.

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Memories of Syria in the heart of Holland

Utrecht is the center of the Netherlands, the headquarters and crossroads of the national railways. Here you see the Dutch from all provinces and all walks of life changing trains at the central train station on the eve of every weekend. Utrecht is a celebration of the diversity of the local people. At the heart of it lays Rasa, a magical venue in a small alley. Once you walk into Rasa, you never know where you’re taken to. Music and dance of all genres from literally all over the world are featured there. A place where people from very different backgrounds and beliefs get a chance to practice their shared humanity. A good exercise for these times, I would say.

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Reporting Change – Stories from The Arab Region

Amsterdam – On Sunday, June 15, a group of Arab writers, artists and journalists, gathered in the famous pop venue the Melkweg, to tell their stories in word, song, film, and theater. This event called Reporting Change – Stories from The Arab Region, was organized by World Press Photo and Human Rights Watch. The program featured music and keynote addresses by Reem Maged and Yassin Al-Haj Saleh.

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Going back to Graceland

Today, July 18, South Africa is celebrating Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday. President Zuma praised him with the following words, from the moment Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela strode out of prison on the 11th of February 1990, we knew that South Africa would be a different place” (BBC News). This event coincides with the tour Paul Simon and his South African colleagues are making in Europe.

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Madame X vs. Homophobia

The 28th Imagine Festival in Amsterdam showed the Indonesian movie Madame X, directed by Lucky Kuswandi. It is a hilarious yet multilayered film about the extravagant superhero Madame X starring Amink Sugandhi, a well-known comedian in Extravaganza on Trans TV. One of the layers of the movie is a social complaint against religious fanaticism. The film’s premiere coincided with the passing of the anti-pornography law in 2010. This law is widely regarded as a step towards a strict Islamic Law. The nightlife people like dancers and transsexuals are at risk at being arrested or, like in the movie, attacked by homophobic gangs.

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Being Emo in Baghdad

Earlier this month worldwide media reported that dozens of kids were killed in Iraq. All of them supposedly were supporters of the emo-lifestyle. Emo originated out of the pop culture of the nineteen-eighties, but has gone a long way since and became a popular lifestyle for Western youth, even to this day. Emo as a fashion statement comes in many forms and shapes and is impossible to accurately describe, but generally it is associated with heavy make up, dark clothes, painted hair and androgynous looks. In Iraq this is considered to be synonymous with homosexuality, which apparently is the reason for these organized killings and the publication of an online death list of 33 youngsters who are condemned for their appearance.

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Will Tibetan cultural identity be erased?

It can be hard for the Tibetan people to keep the international community interested in their cause. A week ago we have read in the news that Tibetans  set themselves on fire to protest China’s repression of Tibet (New York Times). China occupied Tibet in the 1950’s and considers itself a liberator of Tibet. The documentary Tibet in Song (2009) gives a historical overview and shows how the Chinese regime tries to erase the Tibetan cultural identity.

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