Nour Festival (20 October - 8 November 2015) shines light on the best of contemporary Middle Eastern and North African arts and culture each October and November in venues across Kensington and Chelsea. Featuring music, film, food, exhibitions, talks and dance, Nour acts as a crucial meeting point for East and West. IESA UK curated a series of talks on Art, Community and Engagement to take place at Leighton House Museum, as well as panel on Arab Photograpy at Institut francais, as part of this year's festival's programme.

Below you can find information about our events. To find out more about the festival and book tickets please vist Nour Festival's website. 







22 October: THE IMAGE IS WITNESS | Institut francais, 6-8pm | Book here

Panel discussion with Karin Adrian von Roques, Vali Mahlouji and Gabriel Bauret followed by drinks reception

iesa-nour-festivalThis November the First Biennale of Photography from the Arab World will be held in Paris. Organised by the Institut du monde Arabe in conjunction with the Maison européenne de la photographie, this first of its kind event aims to bring to light the diverse and vibrant photographic output of the artists coming from the Middle East and North Africa.

To celebrate the occasion and understand its timing and significance, this panel discussion followed by drinks reception will bring curators and experts Karin Adrian von Roques, Vali Mahlouji and curator of the biennale Gabriel Bauret, in a conversation aimed to take a closer look at the issues of representing, (re)framing and understanding Arab photography in the West today. The talk will be followed by reception.





iesa-nour-festival-book-talks23 October: RECALIBRATE | Leighton House, 5.30-7pm | Book here

Panel discussion with Daniel Robbins, Daniel Gorman and Dr Dina Matar


The immense complexities of the Middle East and their representation in the media are an ever-present backdrop for the work of any art institution or event with links to this region. So how do they navigate these complexities and create meaningfully engagement with local communities of all origins and backgrounds? What is the role of art festivals as short-term interventions in supporting this challenge? And is there a shift in audience perception in light of ongoing events in the region? This discussion introduces a festival series of talks at Leighton House on art, engagement and how cultural interventions can create long-term impact. 



iesa-nour-festival-Oreet-Ashery-Stephanie-Bailey27 October: THE SPACE FOR FREEDOM | Leighton House, 5.30-7pm | Book here

Conversation between Oreet Ashery and Stephanie Bailey

Oreet Ashery’s practice often takes the form of context-specific events, performances and exhibitions in a wide range of locations and tends to include participatory and interactive elements, provocative statements, humour and trashy aesthetics. Her recent works focused on performances of  iberation and emancipation, freedom rhetoric and mechanisms of power. In this conversation with art critic Stephanie Bailey, Oreet discusses how preoccupations with questions of invisible labour and visible migration, inclusion and exclusion, power and exploitation inform her work with social groups and other artists, and what the future holds for her past collaborations.



iesa-nour-festival-Rebecca-Bridgman-Mohammed-Ali-Abid-Hussein28 October: FROM THE STREETS TO THE MUSEUM | Leighton House, 5.30-7pm | Book here


Panel discussion with Dr. Rebecca Bridgman, Mohammed Ali and Abid Hussein

Like London, Birmingham is a vibrant and super-diverse centre that is blazing a trail to engage new audiences with the Arts. Famously described by Fox News as a ‘no-go city for non-Muslims’, it is in fact proud of its multicultualism and its long history as a destination for migrant communities. Nevertheless, those communities, particularly within the Muslim population, traditionally include many people outside the typical museum-going crowd. In recent years, there have been significant developments to engage such audiences in Birmingham through a range of exhibitions and events.  What can be learnt from the city and its museums?Join curator Rebecca Bridgman; senior manager for Diversity at Arts Council England, Abid Hussain and internationally acclaimed, Birmingham-based visual artist Mohammed Ali for a discussion on how engagement, participation and understanding can combine to help develop diversity in the Arts. 


iesa-nour-festival-performance-art-and-public-space3 November: PERFORMANCE ART AND PUBLIC SPACE | Leighton House, 5.30-7pm |Book here

Lecture by Dr. Anthony Downey followed by response from artist Tania EL Khoury

Dr. Anthony Downey examines the occluded and overt histories of performance art in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), exploring dance, film and video, performance writing, activism and the emerging languages of digital art. This talk maps out a wide range of practices and theories associated with the labels performance, performance art and performativity, and enquires into how they activate discussions about public space. As public space becomes an increasingly contested ideal, these issues are often in turn highly politicised and the subject of further debate about the nature of culture's claim on political and social realities.


Anthony Downey's presentation will be followed by a response from artist Tania El Khoury.