The Spring of Culture Festival returns to the Kingdom of Bahrain for its 15th edition for a series of events praised regionally and internationally for their cultural relevance. Activities and events aim to satisfy the diversity within the Kingdom of Bahrain, amongst residents and visitors alike, including art exhibitions, musical concerts, lectures and other significant cultural initiatives.
The Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA), the Economic Development Board (EDB), and the Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Centre for Culture and Research, in cooperation with Albareh Gallery and La Fontaine Centre for Contemporary Arts announced the activities, events and workshops that will be a part of the 15th Spring of Culture edition.
On this occasion, Her Excellency Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, stated: “Through our annual Spring of Culture Festival we reveal how culture is an act resistance that helps us elevate the status of our nations. This 15th edition of the Spring of Culture oversees a variety of cultural activities along the lines of civilizational development, reflecting the slogan that we have selected to underscore all our activities for 2020, ‘Dilmun: Land of Density’.
“The upcoming two months will present residents and visitors of the Kingdom of Bahrain with diverse activities and eclectic programs to attend including literary, musical, fine arts, theatrical events and more,” she added. She stressed that the Spring of Culture is an opportunity to celebrate the cultural connection of the Kingdom of Bahrain with nations and civilisations across the world.
His Excellency Khalid Humaidan, the Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), said: “The Kingdom of Bahrain’s rich tourism offering, which was highlighted when Manama was named the Capital of Arab Tourism 2020, attracts a multitude of guests from both the region and across the globe, and the Spring of Culture Festival is one of the key driving factors. “At the EDB, encouraging investment is the core of our mandate, and we understand how important the tourism sector is to economic growth. We look forward to seeing this festival grow further and are honored by the support shown by the private sector, who are integral to the Festival’s success every year,” he added.
The Spring of Culture Festival is generously sponsored by Aluminum Bahrain (Alba), the Bahrain Airport Company, Bahrain Duty Free, Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait (BBK), CITYNEON, DHL, Gulf Air, Mumtalakat, National Bank of Bahrain(NBB) and Tamkeen as Silver Sponsors; and supported by Bahrain Bay, IDM, and Park Point .Additionally, numerous embassies in the Kingdom of Bahrain are taking part in the festival: Tunisia , Egypt, Sri Lanka, Japan, and Germany.
There are many exhibitions this year starting with the “Dive into the Jurassic” exhibition at the Bahrain National Museum on display until March 16, 2020. It has been curated and produced by the Natural History Museum (London), and is generously supported by the British Council, DCMS and GREAT through the UK-Gulf Culture and Sport Programme. Award-winning Italian artist Ezio Gribaudo will launch his first solo exhibition in the region on March 1, located at the Bahrain National Museum as well.
Where Do We Sit?” will showcase the latest artworks by Hala Al Khalifa, exploring feelings of belonging and connection, emptiness and loss through a series of paintings of sofas and seats on canvas, on display from February 15 until March 26 at Memory of The Place, Bin Matar House.
The Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Centre for Culture and Research venue will also launch “From a Different Angle” exhibition by artist Khalid Farhan, consisting of three oversized outdoor sculptures to be unveiled within the beautiful setting of historical Muharraq, starting March 17 until May 31. The first solo exhibition by Mai Al Moataz called “Proof of Presence” using black and white film as a medium to explore the universe through time, space, light and chemistry will be on display from April 8 until May 31 at Memory of The Place.
Albareh Gallery will host two exhibitions as part of their participation during this edition of Spring of Culture, the first being “Greetings to Fernando Botero” by Mohammed Al Mahdi until March 10, biding tribute to the style and techniques of Fernando Botero. The second exhibition at Albareh is “Wallpaper” by Zena Assi that attempts to record the shifts in our contemporary urban environment and demonstrate how our societal ideologies and political tendencies play a major role in these changes, on display from March 17 until April 9.
The Art Centre has numerous exhibitions prepared this festival season starting with Abdulrahim Sharif’s solo exhibition “What Night Does” until March 20. Sharif explores the separation between his literal self as a human and the intangible senses of existence, pushing the boundaries of artistic storytelling to express what is in his heart of hearts through painting. In addition, the Arts Centre is hosting “Fourth Dimension”, a joint exhibition between Huda Al Saie and Khalid Farhan on April 12 until April 22. Porcelain art, sculpture and painting all intertwine to establish a dialogue on nature and plants.
La Fontaine Centre for Contemporary Arts will launch “Reconnect”, an art exhibition uniting a group of established artists using the old doors of La Fontaine as their medium, on February 26. Studio 244 at Arad Bay Protected Area & Park will host the “What if Rashid Didn’t Exist” a performing arts exhibition held between March 15 to 18. The direction and scenography is by artist Khalid Al Ruwaie and it will explore the aesthetic of renowned Bahraini artist Rashid Al Oraifi. The Bahrain International Book Fair returns for its 19th edition on March 25, gathering local and international publishers to highlight the most prominent and recent books all under one roof taking place near the Bahrain National Museum. This year, the State of Kuwait is the guest of honor.
The Bahrain National Museum will launch the “Topologies of Air” exhibition by Scottish-Danish artist Shona Illingworth through an immersive, multi-screen sound and video installation, examining the impact of accelerating geopolitical, technological and environmental change on the composition, nature and use of airspace. This exhibition is presented by The Wapping Project, London, in partnership with the Bahrain National Museum, and is generously supported by the British Council, DCMS and GREAT through the UK-Gulf exhibition.
MUSIC, CONCERTS AND SHOWS
The Spring of Culture Festival offers a wide variety of concerts, shows and theatrical performances. In commemoration of Arab Tourism Day, the Egyptian Modern Dance Theatre & Cairo Opera House, directed by Walid Aouni, celebrates the legacy of Zaha Hadid through a contemporary performance entitled “Hadid Tears”. In addition, the Bahrain National Theatre welcomes the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra with “Melodies of a Beautiful Time” on March 28, conducted by Bahraini Maestro Mubarak Najem and Bulgarian Maestro Diane Pavlov.
The EDB will host live performances as part of their participation in the Spring of Culture Festival at an outdoor theatre. On March 6, Omar Kamal and Banah will perform a fusion of Arabic and English classics with a modern twist all while paying homage to the legendary originals. The Australia-based theatrical dance performance “The Merchants of Bollywood” is scheduled for March 26 and 27 at Bahrain Bay.
The Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Centre for Culture and Research welcomes Lebanese qanun player Elie Achkar and Barcelona native and guitarist Manuel Delgado on March 2 for a collaborative concert. Palestinian pianist Fadi Deeb and Palestinian-Japanese artist Mariam Tamari join forces for an extraordinary performance on March 30 entitled “From Debussy to Darwish”.
Bahraini folk music is a key part of this edition of the Spring of Culture Festival, as the Mohammed bin Faris Music Hall will host the Mohammed bin Faris Band every Thursday regaling audiences with tales of a pearl diver’s life through festive melodies, working songs and farewell ballads. Dar Al Muharraq invites all to attend evenings highlighting the Bahraini Fijri tradition whereas Dar Al Riffa spotlights a variety of local folk traditions within Bahrain.
The “Mr. Men & Little Misses” puppetry show will take stage on March 4, 5 and 7. A storytelling and dance event entitled “Traditional Japanese Vaudeville Theatre”, a collaborative effort with the Embassy of Japan in the Kingdom of Bahrain and sponsored by K E Kanoo -Mazda Bahrain, will showcase two distinct forms of Japanese performance art — traditions of the comedic Rakugo storytelling that traces back 400 years and the ritualistic Daikagura stemming from the Edo period. In collaboration with the Embassy of Germany in the Kingdom of Bahrain, the critically acclaimed, one-of-a-kind concert Pianotainment performs on March 13. Tune into another type of musical performance, this time from Turkey, with the famous singer Barbaros Büyükakkan on March 19 as he blends different genres and languages such as French, English, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish and Arabic.
The Cultural Hall presents a modern dance performance in collaboration with the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in the Kingdom of Bahrain entitled “Raya & Sakina” on March 25 and 26. Based on the stories of these two figures popular across the Arab World, despite contradictory opinions that either praise or vilify them, this performance serves as a reflection on the socioeconomic and cultural conditions of their time.
The Spring of Culture events at the Cultural Hall conclude with musical performances presented by Entertainment Live: a musical performance of the Shakespearean “Romeo & Juliet” on March 30 and 31, and an upbeat retelling of Aladdin on April 4 to 6.
The Qal’at Al Bahrain Site Museum returns this Spring of Culture for the ongoing The Sound & Light Show every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, taking audiences on an audiovisual journey towards the depths of history when the Dilmun civilisation reigned and then back to the present. Performances are in both Arabic and English. Tickets are sold at Qal’at Al Bahrain Site Museum.
LITERARY, INTELLECTUAL AND CULTURAL LECTURES
The Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Centre for Culture and Research presents various literary and intellectual lectures. Prof. Dr. Albert De Roeck will discuss his experiences working on the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and highest-energy particle collider and the largest machine in the world, on March 4. Additionally, Ibrahim Issa’s lecture entitled “A Novel of History or A Historical Novel” is on March 16, “The Art of the Biography: Privacy & the History of the Homeland” by Mohamed Salmawy on April 13, and finally the “Writing & the Happiness Hormone” by Talib Al-Rifai will take place on April 27.
Beyond literature, this season sheds light on Arabic poetry through readings at the House of Poetry: Ebrahim Al Arrayed part of the Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Centre for Culture and Research. Saudi Arabian poet Ahmed Al-Ali will appear on March 9 for an evening entitled “Souvenir of the Opposing Chairs” as well as Egyptian poet Samir Darwish on April 6 for an evening entitled “The Status of Women in the Egyptian Poetic Landscape”.
The Abdullah Al-Zayed for Bahraini Press Heritage will host lectures on March 23 by Lebanese journalist Kheirallah Kheirallah on “Iran & its Policy of Linking to Iraq” and “The Psychology of the Russian People Between West & Easy” on April 20 by Russian presenter Atrium Kapchuk. Qal’at Al Bahrain Site Museum will host a lecture by Dr. Murad Al Janabi on March 24. The lecture will discuss the historical importance of the Kingdom of Bahrain, as it was the meeting point of ancient civilizations during the era of Dilmun, Tylos and Awal, and was known as the “Land of Eternity” across different cultures, becoming a home of peace and prosperity.
CINEMA AND FILM
Cinephiles have a breadth of phenomenal films to look forward to between individual screenings and festivals. In collaboration with the Embassy of the Republic of Tunisia in the Kingdom of Bahrain, The Tunisian Film Festival at the Bahrain National Museum will screen films on March 4 and 14. The Japan Animation Festival, held in cooperation with the Embassy of Japan in the Kingdom of Bahrain, will screen films on March 8 and 11.
Documentaries “Erase and Forget” by Andrea Luka Zimmerman and “The Two Sights” by Joshua Bonnetta will screen on March 21 and March 28, respectively. The Qal’at Al Bahrain Site Museum will screen “Alice in Wonderland” on March 5 and “Night of Arabic Classic Films: Lady Fayruz” on April 16.
The Pearling Path Visitors Centre will screen a variety of films such as the Bollywood production “Lagaan, Once Upon a Time in India” on March 19, and Italian film “The Bicycle Thief” on April 9. The Bahrain Film Festival, organised by the Bahrain Cinema Club, will spotlight emerging local talents throughout the event, taking place between March 4 and 8 at Oasis Mall Cinema in Juffair.
EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL ACTIVITIES BACA
will host a “Medicinal Plants” tour at the Qal’at Al Bahrain Site Museum on March 7. The Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Centre for Culture and Research will embark on a study tour entitled “Bahrain’s Early Model Architecture” by Ali Karimi on February 29. Additionally, BACA will host the “Pearling Path Board Games League” on March 28 at Siyadi Public Square in Muharraq. In terms of panel discussions, this edition of Spring of Culture offers a series of talks coinciding with the “Topologies of Air” installation by Shona Illingworth at the Bahrain National Museum. There will be a talk on March 31 at Dar Al Muharraq between the artist Shona Illingworth and Shaikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Director of Archeology & Museums Directorate at BACA, to discuss the exhibition and the Danish-Scottish artist’s residency in the Kingdom of Bahrain accompanied by a live music performance by Azhar Kubba. Additionally, the Bahrain National Museum will host a seminar and launch a book documenting the “Food is Culture 5” process on April 1.
WORKSHOPS AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
The Spring of Culture Festival offers a wide variety of different workshops suitable for different age groups. Participants can learn Arabic calligraphy through designated workshops, traditional crafts and creative skills in cinema, design and more. Full details regarding workshops and registration can be found on the festival’s website: springofculture.org.
STREET THEATRE SHOWS
The Spring of Culture Festival presents international street theatre shows set to perform for the general public around the Kingdom such as “Stick Sock” coming all the way from the United Kingdom on March 7 to 9. The Italian “The Marlow Banda Show” will perform around the Kingdom of Bahrain from March 12 to 14.✤