Folktales Reimagined in Italy

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Bodour Al Qasimi inaugurates ‘Folktales Reimagined’ exhibition in Italy

 Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA), founder and honourary president of The UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), inaugurated ‘Folktales Reimagined’ – an exhibition jointly organised by UAEBBY and House of Wisdom (HoW) at the Biblioteca Salaborsa Library in Bologna, Itlay, to promote intercultural dialogue and the creative exchange of ideas between the UAE and Italy.

The exhibition is part of Sharjah’s Guest of Honour programme at the 59th Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF). Curated by UAEBBY, ‘Folktales Reimagined’ is a cross-cultural creative project that was launched during the Sharjah World Book Capital 2019 celebrations, and witnessed artists from two very different cultures reimagine and offer artistic interpretations of each other’s most popular folk tales.

Five artists from the UAE have reimagined the legends and fables from Italy through the lens of their unique ideas, expressions, and perspectives, while artists from Italy were commissioned to do the same with some of the best-known tales from the UAE.

Held as part of the ‘BOOM! Grow with Books’ festival alongside BCBF 2022, the exhibition embodies the vision of both Sharjah and Bologna on the strengthening of cultural dialogue and exchange of creative ideas between the two cities. The project presented new creative prospects for artists, illustrators and the children’s literature industry in both nations, and the resulting exhibition has offered the community a vibrant platform for inter-cultural appreciation.

The UAEBBY also organised a discussion panel at BCBF 2022 to turn the spotlight on the artistic and cultural experiences and learnings of the ‘Folktales Reimagined’ project’s participants. The discussion was led by Nicoletta Gramantieri, Head of the Salaborsa Ragazzi Library; Amira Bin Faris, Programs Manager, House of Wisdom; Francesca Dell’orto, Illustrator; Ayesha Al Badi, Illustrator; the panel was moderated by Dr. Yasmine Motawy, Senior Instructor at the American University in Cairo, Egypt.

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The speakers discussed reinvigorating folktales through such projects and enable children’s book illustrators push their creative boundaries by undertaking a cross-cultural artistic journey like the one they were offered by ‘Folktales Reimagined’. They also stressed that stories serve as a nexus for dialogue and understanding between peoples and cultures and promotes the exchange of ideas between readers, publishers and authors.

The project highlights the importance of creative exchange between cultures, and unveils a significant fact – if people delve deep into popular folktales, they will realise the common human values that bring them together, no matter how dissimilar their cultural backgrounds.