The Yemeni heritage is very rich in all kinds of arts that distinguished it from other civilizations, although it is subject to gradual disappearance, and nothing remains of it in our memory except what is still in use today, and maybe the day will come in which most of our heritage will be vanished until we hardly recognize it.
In this context, the Megdaf project aims to produce a wonderful mixture of the two times, between the present and the past, modernity and heritage, with creative youth hands.
Shaima Gamal, Executive Director of the "Basement" Cultural Foundation, talks to "Khuyut" about this project by saying that "Megdaf" aims to promote cultural heritage and build the capacities of artists in managing, developing and marketing their artistic products. The project will include various workshops in the field of cultural management to introduce them to the artistic market and boosting their skills which will contribute to increasing income and improving financial stability.
The project, which is implemented in partnership between UNESCO and the Social Fund for Development and funded by the European Union, aims to raise the capacities of artists in the field of cultural management, to promote their artistic products, and to highlight contemporary art and heritage, as two compatible elements that can be promoted.
Technical skill development
The Yemeni artist does not find enough support in to developing his artistic skills, or even the lack of spaces to display them to the public. Therefore, the Megdaf project was dedicated to building the capacities of artists, by providing training courses on topics related to developing and promoting artwork and a series of training workshops designed for this purpose.
As a result of the trainings, the participating artists received adequate information and acquired needed skills on producing artworks with the aim of selling, marketing and developing their work, and obtaining a good source of income that would help them continue their artistic career.
Shaima Jamal says that the project idea was one of the old thoughts, which the Basement Foundation has been looking for the right an opportunity to implement, given the artists' need for qualification, training, and development of their abilities and skills.
The Yemeni artist has always found a problem to depend on his art as a source of income, and most of the artists that the institution is in contact with - according to Shaima's statement - depend on other income sources out of their artistic field, so the artist must get proper opportunities to develop and rehabilitate his artistic project, through obtaining certain skills that help him/her in planning and searching for funding and promotion, as well as production and budgeting.
In this regard, it shall be the mandate of cultural institutions, initiatives and cultural actors is to support artists to preserve their arts and remain in the artistic field, so that the cultural scene recovers and artistic production evolves in Yemen.
“Artists will be able empowered to utilize their artistic skills as a source of income, which encourages economic sustainability and prosperity,” in addition to designing artworks to showcase Yemen’s cultural heritage, through various artworks, and highlight the diversity of heritage, beauty, and cultural value to raise awareness about the importance of preserving cultural heritage in Yemen. Shaima added.
Presenting heritage in creative ways
The project passed through several stages, the first of which was the organization of a training course in the management and development of cultural projects, then the implementation of an artistic workshop for artists to produce artworks that present the Yemeni heritage, the organization of two events to review artworks, and finally the launch of an electronic platform to promote artistic works on a large scale.
Due to "Mejdaf" intervention, about 30 various artworks have been produced by 30 Yemeni artists, differing in their types between arts of sculpture, painting and musical playing. These variety of arts were produced within the efforts of the modernization of heritage by highlighting it in wonderful and innovative ways so that it went out of the ordinary.
The Executive Director of the Basement Foundation confirms the excellence of the artworks participating in the "Megdaf" project, which is an attempt to modernize the Yemeni heritage and present it in a creative and unusual technique.
These distinguished arts varieties produced are significantly attributed to the training and workshops aimed at encouraging artists to produce talent works of art, using different instruments and innovative techniques. Moreover, they represent new experiences in which they challenge their energies and creativity. Shaima says: “When I see these works, I find in them a variety of arts in terms of using “collage”, coloring, drawing, “stitching”, sculpting and using light, webtoon, and digital painting.
Presentation of the art products
In our review of the most prominent outputs of the "Megdaf" project, we find distinguished works that reflect a remarkable diversity in the use and incorporation of more than one artistic substance in these works:
- In the beginning, there is the "Lighting Pumpkin Lamps" project, by the artist Amani Al-Adimi, as the pumpkin is considered a heritage item that is still widely used in rural areas to shake convert cow's milk (yogurt) to produce "Al-Haqin" (from dairy products) and producing local ghee.
Amani presented "Pumpkin " in a different way, as she made a wooden base on which a tree branch was installed and the folk "pumpkin" was attached to the tip of the branch, carved with ancient predicate letters, and added lighting to give the "pumpkin" an aesthetic shape from the inside.
The "Radae Dress" project, an artwork by photographer Sultan Al Shaibani, who decided to highlight the aesthetic of the "Radae Woman Dress/cover ", which was placed over a (non-human) stereotype and then it was photographed, using pins to shape it and show the largest part of it.
Sultan told "Khuyut", that ""Radae Dress" " is one of the most elegant and ancient robes worn by Yemeni women, although many Yemenis - as Sultan regrets - know only the Sana'ani Dress/cover as a symbol of Yemeni heritage.
The “Third Millennium Owais” project, is an artwork by the plastic artist Jihad Yahya Jarallah, aims to emphasize the necessity of the complementary relationship between Yemeni heritage and contemporary art in order to create an authentic and fashionable Yemeni cultural structure.
The work is embodied in the form of a cubist sculpture inspired by the Himyarite tombstones, specifically the tomb of an ancient Yemeni man named Owais, consisting of four metal pieces of varying size made of wire and covered in parts with a layer of ceramic paste.
The project "Ma'd Yakrib" by artist Jalal Al-Shamiri, through which he aims to highlight Yemeni history and culture in a modern artistic way, touching the concept of the contemporary taste. Jalal decided to make a model of the Yemeni king "Dhammar bin Ali" using old used wood, recycling it again and installing it in an aesthetic way that serves the idea of promoting heritage.
The project “Mashadeef” is an artwork by the artist Maysa Mutaher, who worked in this project on drawing the Yemeni “Qanboos” instrument on the glass, which symbolizes the fragility of the Yemeni intangible heritage and the need to be conserved carefully. Next to it are the words of an old rural folk song that Maysa calls "Al-Mashadeef", a romantic song whose content, she says, is funny and entertaining.
“The Sprinkle” project, by the plastic artist Ali Al-Maabri, which is a heritage artwork, in the form of a wooden rectangle with a sprinkle of green natural leather, “handmade.” Ali installed an old heritage "iron pestle" engraved in the center of the painting, with a frame consisting of an old golden "piston" belt. Through this project, which prompted him to hold the "pistil" and click on the painting, Ali seeks to engage the recipient in the artwork and satisfy his curiosity.
The project “Oh slim figure and Khatar Gosn Al Gana,” song by the singer and artist Amjad Faqira, which consists of six musicians who played two songs “Skinny figure and Ghosn El Qana” in the style of rock and flamenco. Amjad Faqra presented the song in a simple way, explaining the philosophy of the artwork and the additions that were added to the song.
Such wonderful works astonish the viewer and quench the taste of the Yemeni observer, who thirsts to see all this beauty, far from all the news of the war surrounding it.
Shaima Jamal confirms that the remarkable number of attendants and interactions with the artistic works demonstrates the interest of the Yemeni public in the art, and their recognition and taste of their diversity and distinction. In addition, artists benefit from training, especially promotional skills.
The Basement Foundation has promoted these businesses and projects, which have received wide positive reactions. And it won't stop here, but an online platform will be launched to promote these arts on a local and global scales.
Jamal hopes that the artists will benefit from the training provided to them and reflect it positively on their artistic lives, by finding channels to promote their works, and that the artists will continue to shed light on the Yemeni heritage and its diversity using contemporary and innovative tools to promote the Yemeni heritage. Shaima also hopes that "Megdaf" will be the beginning of other projects aimed at improving the situation of artists in Yemen and developing their skills.