A Riot Towards Landscapes
By Athoub Al Busaily
Published on April 5th, 2021
Dubai has been bustling with exhibition openings in the past two weeks, with the successful opening of Alserkal Art Week and Art Dubai. Coming out of this season of isolation, landscape curiosity struck me as a strong referential element. Post-lockdown, artists are showcasing new observational methods to listen to their surroundings – an element we can particularly sense in the galleries offering new group and solo exhibitions at Alserkal Avenue this spring 2021.
Naturally, artists have developed a silent desire to look at the world from a window frame. Landscape proportions are being segmented and looked upon on a micro-level. This dissection of our external world almost feels like a scientific experiment, a theme quite fitting to the inward nature of the pandemic.
The following exhibitions made me realize that landscapes have multiple iterations outside the boundary of ‘nature’. While some landscapes are directly linked to macro living environments, such as cities, others might be formed through a diary-like dialogue between land and its inhabitants. Interestingly enough, few are reminiscent of our homes – as if artists were projecting our collective sentiment of wanting to escape reality and reach far-away landscapes by way of daydreaming outside the confines of our immediate physical realm.
Boundary SpaceLawrie Shabibi
22 March - 27 May, 2021
Unit 21, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz 1, Dubai
Showcasing for the first time in the Middle East, Lima-based artist Ishmael Randall Weeks brings forth an outcome of a decoded cityscape at Lawrie Shabibi. Both urban and citified vocabularies are prominent in his large-scale sculptures.
The title of Weeks’ solo exhibition Boundary Space is a term referring to the fluid space between architecture and anthropology: spaces that are constantly evolving and shape-shifting depending on the habitual needs of their civilians. Those new mods and space changes are seen in his material observations and the action of taking elements from their usual context to a new exotic environment. Through this quest, we can truly start to wonder about the inherited thin lines around places and how they might define a space.
The title of Weeks’ solo exhibition Boundary Space is a term referring to the fluid space between architecture and anthropology.
In this new solo exhibition, we see materials that often construct cities, are now being stripped away from their natural habitats, creating a new urban creature. In I-beams: A North to South Journey, he choreographed an installation of three beams made out of earthen materials found in the archeological sites in the city of Lima. This type of beam, invented by a French engineer, later became a prominent element in various types of construction. Walking through the tight installation space of earthen beams, visitors can notice calculated chaos in the display. Like staging the ruins of a city, the artist evokes a feeling of both stress and confrontation just like a freshly excavated archeological site. When explaining this work, he mentioned the words “our land”, which seems like a quest towards the idea of belonging.
In his 2.8 meters wide floor installation Biombo / Mashrabiya, the architecture of cultural hybridity, we notice a new form of a dialogue between private/ public spaces. His deployment of the two-way mirror that is often used in interrogation rooms is testing our sense of the otherness and the familiarity of spaces.
Much like the imaginary Kármán Line, the exhibition highlights the space between the earth’s atmosphere and outer space. When we contemplate those lines off the intersection, we often question the point of their existence: at what point does the boundary of the first space ends and where does the second begins?
The Work and its PeripheryGrey Noise
March 22 - May 22, 2021
Unit 24, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz 1, Dubai
One enters the solo exhibition of Charbel-Joseph H. Boutros with a warm greeting of hospitality. The aromatic exhibition layered with a neutral beige carpet hosts an installation that both acts as an ironic pitch and a will. In this exhibition we look at space-making in a more intimate conditions set upon by the artist.
Few footsteps into the main entrance, and you're met with a small A4 paper suggesting a form of contract. Signed by both the galleries and the artist, this legalization is a future promise by the artist of constructing a mausoleum that will host the deceased body of the gallerist. A rendering of that promised mausoleum is shown elevated and placed inside an art-like booth. Stolen wishes are part of the artwork’s material descriptions, which is used to delicately cover the rendering.
The quasi-religious space is colonized by a feeling of homesickness, evident in the gesture of house-making. Neatly aligned shoes and the gallerist’s worn clothes are among the artworks that make up the bigger installation. Next to the mausoleum and resting on the floor, is a single-size mattress and a houseplant, a reminder of a living ecosystem of transcendent states. The artist fabricated the intimacy of home as a geography to be studied, and as a landscape to be observed and interacted with.
The artist fabricated the intimacy of home as a geography to be studied, and as a landscape to be observed and interacted with.
When Words Disappear into TreesGreen Art Gallery
March 22 - June 5, 2021
Unit 28, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz 1, Dubai
Landscapes can also exist beyond the boundaries of the tangible, formed by the mind as a last harbor, silent whisper, and mirage. Created through confinement and observation, New Delhi-based artist Seher Shah reveals both languages hidden in the infrastructure of a city and the continuous gesture of searching, so much so she repeats a word until it loses meaning and evaporates from written text back to blank paper again.
Landscapes can also exist beyond the boundaries of the tangible, formed by the mind as a last harbor, silent whisper, and mirage.
Shah adopts a new scientific methodology towards her environment, in a process ending with silence and hearing. Her practice both interrogates and blurs the lines of architecture, history, and language, resulting in space as the main suspect of interrogation. In doing so, she tries to define the relationship with her familiar facades.
Entering the gallery of the neutralized blue-toned walls immediately allows you to distinguish the starkness of her white paper works. One cannot help but hear the echoing emptiness of her recent drawings and etchings. An outcome of her space experiment that feels like it is deprived of sound yet filled with musical punctuation.
Charcoal dust is a prominent medium in her drawings, sitting calmly above the surface and abiding by the borders she marked on her paper. Her drawings and etchings seem as if they were snatched from an ongoing search of a forgotten language. Musical bar lines that are usually used to divide musical staffs into measures are being drafted into segmented landscapes of her creation.
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Athoub Al Busaily is a Kuwaiti artist currently living in Abu Dhabi. In her work, she investigates the notion of borders, hunting, and the desert environment of Kuwait, often underlined by a tone of irony and the use of visual metaphors. Her works have been exhibited at Warehouse421 (Abu Dhabi), The Hub Gallery (Kuwait City), Maraya Art Centre (Sharjah), Art Budapest (Budapest). In 2019, she received a fellowship from the Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation as part of their 7th Cohort. She is currently completing an MA in Art History and Museum Studies at Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. Prior to that, she received her BA in Fine Arts from the University of Sharjah.