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Building on the success of House 44 in 2011, Delfina Foundation (London), in partnership with the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, Art Dubai, and Tashkeel, launched the second Artists-In-Residence programme in Dubai.
Fayçal Baghriche (Algeria/France), Magdi Mostafa (Egypt), Deniz Üster (Turkey/Scotland), with Emirati artists Zeinab Alhashemi, Hadeyeh Badri, Nasir Nasrallah, and curator-in-residence Alexandra MacGilp (UK), have been based in one of Al Bastakiya’s heritage houses since January 2012. In association with SIKKA Art Fair, the artists opened their studios between 16 and 24 March, to showcase their artworks or works-in-progress in House 11. Additionally, Baghriche, Mostafa, and Uster presented works commissioned by Art Dubai Projects at Madinat Jumeirah.
Artists & Projects:
The series Family Friendly consists of a collection of diptyques of covered-over images taken from art magazines found in Dubai. In the UAE, like in many Muslim countries images of nudity are prohibited in the public sphere. Images that include nudity are hidden underneath hand-made ink marks. Each image becomes unique. Baghriche has extracted an identical image from different copies of the same magazine to produce a diptyque that shows the action of the hand on the magazine. Baghriche is interested by the aesthetic value of these new objects, artworks made by people who are not artists.
Sound Element is a set of experimental sound predicated on low frequency alterations, dense sound waves and fractured beats. Mostafa blends found and electronic sounds to create deep, building tensions that frustrate the desire for release. Environmental sounds are thrown into unusual contexts, adding emotional layers to Mostafa’s acoustic complex. Slow oscillations between shimmering high and brooding low frequency sounds create a restrained, but restless narrative of noise. Sound Element is an on-going project that started in 2009 through a serious of live performances in different cities.
See also: Magdi Mostafa interviewed by Alexandra MacGilp
Utilising reverse functionality as her methodology, Üster has constructed three windcatchers entitled Somewhere in the Middle of Two; Southwest of One, and North of the Other. They are dedicated to Istanbul, Glasgow and Dubai, the cities that have welcomed her and shaped her identity and practice; undressing them from their ‘capturing’ function, and turning them into ‘disseminating’ monuments. The kinetic components of each tower fortify the idea of influx, transition and even failure if necessary. Furthermore, spreading respectively scent, humidity and sound, these towers house inner mechanisms as well as carrying a ‘vagrant’ look on the exterior. Üster strove to utilise remnants of construction materials to build her towers in order to explore the fabric and the economy of Art Dubai. She seeks to question the idea of ‘reusing’ and to propose a form of ‘opposite alchemy’ that plays with the hierarchy of values we place on objects. The Istanbul and Dubai towers were installed at Art Dubai and the Glasgow tower was installed at Bastakiya. Documentation about the building of the towers was displayed in Üster’s studio at House 11.
In her series Untitled A, which was exhibited earlier this year at Emirati Expressions at Manarat Al Saadiyat, Badri sought to reveal the use of the iconic. She has observed how we are in constant pursuit of a symbolic representation of a familiar place, person or ideology. Her interest springs from the co-presence of different classifications of the iconic, be it cultural or religious, in a certain space. (…) For her new series Untitled B, created during the residency, Badri’s aim was to build a bigger body of work revolving around and evolving from the concept of her Untitled A series. She made a decision to visit outdoor spaces, rather than indoor spaces that she had previously focused on, and while looking for the symbolic in landscapes, she noticed what seemed to be a start of a new series. Untitled B, currently still work in progress, attempts to explore both the integration and assimilation of built and natural environments. The resulting landscapes show equal participation from the manmade and the natural.
The Useless Machines are a series of sculptures inspired by the huge number of machines created in the history of mankind, as well as the shape, texture and colour of the found objects that are incorporated into these works. (…)
For the interactive project, The Story Converter, the visitors are invited to write something personal on a card hidden inside a custom-made black box. They cannot see what they are writing. The artist uses their scrawled text to create a new doodle drawing, combining this donated material with his own visual experience and thoughts. The resulting drawings are displayed besides the anonymous writings, the input and output of the black box, a virtual machine. In exchange for their participation, the audience will receive a handmade notebook created from recycled paper.
With her project Prayer on a Wheel (The Haath Gadi Project) Alhashemi brings the Old Souk to Bastakiya. (…) A distinctive feature of the Old Souk is a trolley or hand barrow, called a haath gadi in Urdu and Hindi, still used to transport goods around the narrow streets. The title of the work refers to the fact that these simple devices represent the livelihood of a man and his family. These beautiful hand-propelled vehicles are individually made from pieces of wood and lined with carpet off-cuts. Inspired by the way the haath gadi wallahs ('wallah' means 'man' in Hindi) use their trolley as a place to rest when they are not working, Alhashemi has designed pieces of modular furniture made from recycled cardboard tubes. Alhashemi has engaged the services of a haath gadi wallah to circulate Bastakiya with a trolley bearing one of these pieces, designed to fit the vehicle. In Alhashemi’s studio at House 11, weary art-lovers will be invited to experiment with the modular furniture units that can be constructed in different ways, and to sit on them to enjoy photographic and video documentation of the project. The modular nature of these prototype pieces of furniture, and the use of recycled materials, means they are easy to customise and production costs can be kept low.
House 11, Al Bastakiya, Dubai
January - March 2012
16 - 24 March 2012
Delfina Foundation, in partnership with the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, Art Dubai, and Tashkeel
Independent curator and writer based in London.