Divas: Inspiration and immersion in Arab music and cinema
The Divas exhibition highlights the worldwide artistic and social impact of female icons of Arab film and music. It centres on stars like Umm Kulthum, Asmahan, Warda, and Fayrouz, whose music and films connect people around the world. Divas shows the impact their work had and continues to have. The exhibition will be on display at the Tropenmuseum from 8 March, International Women’s Day.
Divas relates the lives and careers of female artists who worked in the Arab music and film world from the 1920s through the 1970s. The exhibition is a tribute to these strong women who forever changed the art forms in which they excelled, and who were the first to claim a place for women in the media, in music, dance, song, and film.
Breaking boundaries across the world
The exhibition features personal portraits of the artists, which are also illustrations of the political and social history of the Arab world. These divas are not only exceptional performers but also important historical figures: through music and film, they connect Arabic speakers around the world.
From the 1920s to today
The exhibition takes visitors from the 1920s to the present in four stages.
The first stage begins in Cairo in the 1920s, when women claimed their place in politics and culture. Early feminists led the way in the fight for equal rights and against British rule.
The second part focuses on four acclaimed singers who reached audiences of millions: Umm Kulthum, Asmahan, Warda, and Fayrouz. They embodied national unity (or its loss) or expressed the desire for cultural unity in the Arab world.
The third room features female performers who both acted and sang. Stars such as Tahiyya Carioca, Samia Gamal, and Laila Mourad captivated audiences in hundreds of films and musicals.
The final rooms focus on the lasting popularity of the divas. The works of contemporary artists are proof that the divas continue to inspire today’s creators.
Divas opens on 8 March, International Women’s Day, at the Tropenmuseum. This exhibition was previously on display at the Institut du monde arabe in Paris in 2020, titled Divas: D’Oum Kalthoum à Dalida.