What is our project?
Dardishi is a feminist collective and an online magazine which exclusively showcases the cultural production of Arab women and Arab non-binary people. I founded the project and launched it on International Women’s Day 2016. We are currently developing an art festival in Glasgow that will showcase the work of Arab women. The festival will take place at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, Scotland, from March 8th 2019 (International Women’s Day 2019) to March 10th 2019, and will feature visual art, film, craft, performance and music produced by Arab women and Arab non-binary people. Dardishi’s first print issue magazine will also be launched on the opening night – which is also our three year anniversary.
‘Dardishi’ is the feminine verb for ‘chitchat’ in Arabic, and we chose this name, not only because it describes the nature of our projects, but also because the collective's formation was largely inspired by all the incredible conversations that we've had with other Arab women. The name dardishi also says a lot about the tone of the work that dardishi produces – conversational work that spurs a wider dialogue on Arab women’s issues.
Why is our project important?
With the rise of right-wing politics in Europe, and the widespread racism, homophobia, anti-refugee, anti-immigrant and anti-migrant rhetoric in the mainstream British press, we feel this is an especially pertinent time to be holding such a festival. Within this increasingly hostile political climate, Arab women face oppression through gender discrimination and racism, and those who are queer and disabled face further marginalisation.
On a personal level as Arab women and non-binary people, and in a professional capacity as curators, programmers, art directors, artists, journalists, cultural critics, academics and activists, our collective knows that art and culture has a huge potential to positively influence communities’ collective well-being.
Through the festival, dardishi aims to:
- strengthen political solidarity and creative collaboration between Arab women/non-binary people
- empower Arab women/non-binary people by providing a platform for their cultural production
- promote diversity, inclusion, accessibility and equality for all Arab women/non-binary people in the arts
- combat racist, homophobic and misogynistic rhetoric through positive and diverse representation of Arab women/non-binary people
- provide opportunities that support and develop Arab women/non binary people’s professional and creative practices
- introduce Glaswegian audiences to art and culture that they would have not been exposed to previously
Who is leading the project?
My name is Samar Ziadat , and I am a Glasgow-based Arab-British woman, a freelance art curator and programmer, and a graduate of the University of Edinburgh’s Modern and Contemporary Art History MSc. I am heavily involved in Glasgow’s art community as a committee member at Transmission Gallery and the Scottish Queer International Film Festival, and a part of Glasgow Women’s Library’s Collect:if. I also recently completed a curatorial fellowship run by Mophradat at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow for emerging Arab curators.
I balance my professional pursuits with running and editing dardishi, which has also further developed my curatorial practice. This professional and academic experience has broadened my skillset and deepened my understanding of programming, curating and publishing. I have also delivered talks for museum professional at Museum Galleries Scotland and Museums Association conferences, presenting on the ways museums can better engage under-represented groups. These experiences have solidified my belief in the importance of diversity in the arts, for artists, cultural workers and art lovers alike, and has fuelled my desire to produce work which is as open, engaging and accessible as possible.
What support do we have so far?
CCA is a long-established, fully accessible venue in central Glasgow known for its experimental approach to arts programming and the diversity of the communities it attracts. CCA has kindly offered us it’s Cinema, Theatre and Club Room for free throughout the festival, and will provide us with marketing support and technical consultations in-kind before and during the festival.
SQIFF is an annual festival in Glasgow organised by and for LGBTQ+ communities since 2015. We will be working in partnership to develop a strand of queer Arab film that will be exhibited at SQIFF 2018 and Dardishi Festival 2019.
GZF is an annual weekend of workshops, screenings, talks and social events with the biggest self publishing fair in Scotland. Dardishi will be ran a stall and delivered a talk at GZF 2018, and GZF will be collaborating with us to programme an event at Dardishi Festival 2019.
Starting a festival is expensive, and we will have lots of costs to cover over the course of the project. Your financial support will help us cover essential costs such as: artist fees, travel expenses for our volunteers, salaries for our freelancers (such as a photographer and British Sign Language Interpreter), and the costs of printing and distributing posters, programmes and promotional leaflets. Your public support for what we are trying to do, whether you are donating towards our campaign or sharing it with your friends, will also demonstrate a demand for our project and work to potential future funding bodies and sponsors.
- Fergus Whyte