MILAN — In a first marquee event to take place in the Middle East in recent years, Bottega Veneta is planning a series of moments of cultural exchange at “The square” in Dubai, a gathering place inspired by the Arabic term “majlis”, symbolizing gathering and conviviality.
The events will be held April 12-14 in a custom square space designed by Lebanese architect Carl Gerges, and will include a film screening, musical performances, storytelling, poetry and cooking.
“The Square” is located at Concrete at Alserkal Avenue, a multi-disciplinary exhibition space in Dubai’s Al Quoz industrial area, and home to a community of over 70 contemporary art galleries, visual arts organizations and d performing arts, designers, local and entrepreneur-led. businesses and community spaces.
Opened in 2017, Concrete is the first building in the United Arab Emirates to be completed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, founded by Rem Koolhaas.
The events will take place during the holy month of Ramadan for the local community, press and top customers after sunset.
“The Square”, covered in Bottega Veneta green, features elements of a traditional conversation pit, mixed with a contemporary design, incorporating a green square – inside the cubic place – emphasizing the square-within-a-square structure and creating a subtle arabesque pattern.
It will host poets, artists and intellectuals from eclectic backgrounds and the space will be animated by instrumental music, live poetry and a gourmet chef.
No product will be available as the approach of this project is not commercial.
The aim is to foster the local creative community, reach new audiences and create a platform for emerging talent from the Middle East.
Guests will be local personalities from the art, music and fashion spaces, invited to attend in small groups for one night over the three evenings, with 26 guests per night.
“My contribution is to link architecture, space, music and gatherings as a way to advance a community of artists and thinkers in an architectural intervention,” said Gerges. “A space for wonder, dialogue and meaningful connection.”
Among the collaborators and performers are, in addition to Gerges: Soleman Haddad, a Syrian chef based in Dubai who created small bites to pass around for guests; Shaima Al Tamimi, a Yemeni visual storyteller from East Africa who will screen her short film “Don’t Get Too Comfortable”, a sort of poetic letter to her late grandfather contemplating their past and future as Arabs of the Diaspora, which was screened at La Biennale di Venezia, nominated for the Orrizonti Prize for Best Short Film; Asma Al Badawi, a Sudanese-British spoken word poet, also known for her advocacy for inclusivity and diversity in women’s sport, will recite three poems; Mustafa the Canadian poet, poet and songwriter, who is already part of the Bottega Veneta community and attended the brand’s Fall 2022 show – the first by new creative director Matthieu Blazy – and will open each night with an in a cappella song .
“The Square” will become a model for events in a few cities, deployed at different scales (such as an in-store event concept or a physical event model) to foster local communities around the world. Its second part will take place in Tokyo at the end of April and will then be deployed in San Francisco and São Paulo later this year.
Bottega Veneta has focused on several cultural projects. As mentioned, the Italian company, led by general manager Bartolomeo Rongone, will sponsor the Biennale Danza, the international contemporary dance festival, for the second consecutive year. It will take place in Venice from July 22 to 31 and will be directed by Wayne McGregor.
At the same time, Bottega Veneta is also partnering with the Palazzo Grassi Punta della Dogana Pinault collection to support “Dancing Studies,“ a set of performances by choreographers William Forsythe, Lenio Kaklea, Ralph Lemon and Pam Tanowitz, inspired by the exhibition “Bruce Nauman: Contrapposto Studies”. The exhibition is open to the public until November 27. “Dancing Studies” will be celebrated with a dinner hosted by Bottega Veneta and Palazzo Grassi during the opening week of the Biennale di Arte on April 21.
Also, Bottega Veneta has chosen for the first time this year to join forces with the Hyères Festival. This will take place from October 14 to 16. With the Bottega Veneta grant, the house intends to support creativity in all its forms and will offer the winner of the Grand Prix de la photographie the opportunity to collaborate on one of the brand’s campaigns.