📘 E-Issue 05 ––VCE Fall 2022
  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in VCE
  3. Pop(Corn): UAE National Pavilion
  4. Rapport: Venice
  5. Zeitgeist of our Time: Füsun Onur for the Turkish Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale
  6. GAD’s Top Picks: National Pavilions
  7. Strangers to the Museum Wall: Kehinde Wiley’s Venice Exhibition Speaks of Violence and Portraiture
  8. Questioning Everyday Life: Alluvium by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian at OGR Torino in Venice

📒 E-Issue 04 ––IST Spring 2022
  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in IST
  3. Pop(Corn): Refik Anadol
  4. Rapport: Istanbul
  5. Independent Spaces in Istanbul: Sarp Özer on Operating AVTO

E-04++ Spring/Summer 2022
Creating an Artist Books Library in Istanbul: Aslı Özdoyuran on BAS
How Pearl Lam Built Her Gallery Between China and Europe
What’s On in the UAE: Our Top Summer Picks
DXB Art Jameel Joins The World Weather Network in a Groundbreaking Response to Global Climate Crisis
DXB “Geometry is Everywhere”: An Interview and Walking Tour of Order of Magnitude, Jitish Kallat’s Solo Exhibition at Dubai’s Ishara Art Foundation
“We Are Witnessing History”: Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian On Their Retrospective Exhibition at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery
 Istanbul’s 5533 Presents Nazlı Khoshkhabar’s “Around and Round”
HK Startbahn Presents “Made in Japan 3.0: Defining a New Phy-gital Reality”, an NFT Pop-Up at K11 Art Mall
DXB Dubai's Postmodern Architecture: Constructing the Future with 3dr Models
📘 E-Issue 03 –– TYO Fall 2021
  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in TYO
  3. Pop(Corn): Nimyu
  4. Ahmad The Japanese: Bady Dalloul on Japan and Belonging
  5. Rapport: Tokyo 
  6. Alexandre Taalba Redefines Virtuality at The 5th Floor
  7. Imagining Distant Ecologies in Hypersonic Tokyo: A Review of “Floating Between the Tropical and Glacial Zones”
  8. Ruba Al-Sweel Curates “Garden of e-arthly Delights” at SUMAC Space
  9. Salwa Mikdadi Reflects on the Opening of NYU Abu Dhabi’s Arab Center for the Study of Art

E-03++ Fall/Winter 2021-22
Art Dubai Digital, An Alternative Art World?
Must-See Exhibitions in Dubai - Art Week Edition 2022
Prepare The Ingredients and Let The Rest Flow: Miramar and Zaid’s “Pure Data” Premieres at Satellite for Quoz Arts Fest 2022
 Akira Takayama on McDonald’s Radio University, Heterotopia, and Wagner Project
AUH Woman as a Noun, and a Practice: “As We Gaze Upon Her” at Warehouse421
AAN The Labor of Art and the Art of Labor: Christopher Benton on His First Exhibition in Al Ain
IST “Once Upon a Time Inconceivable”: A Review and a Conversation
RUH Misk Art Institute’s Annual Flagship Exhibition Explores the Universality of Identity
RUH HH Prince Fahad Al Saud Discusses Saudi Arabia’s Artistic Renaissance
Engage101 Presents “Connected, Collected” at Sotheby’s Dubai

📕 E-Issue 02
NYC Spring 2021
  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in NYC
  3. Pop(Corn): Zeid Jaouni
  4. You Can Take The Girl Out Of The City 
  5. Rapport: NYC
  6. Kindergarten Records Discuss The Future of Electronic Music
  7. Sole DXB Brings NY Hip-Hop To Abu Dhabi
  8. Wei Han Finds ‘Home’ In New York
  9. Vikram Divecha: Encounters and Negotiations

E-02++ Spring/Summer 2021
DXB “After The Beep”: A Review and Some Reflections
OSA Rintaro Fuse Curates “Silent Category” at Creative Center Osaka
AUH “Total Landscaping”at Warehouse 421
TYO “Mimicry of Hollows” Opens at The 5th Floor
TYO Startbahn, Japan’s Leading Art Blockchain Company, Builds a New Art Infrastructure for the Digital Age
DXB There Is A You In The Cloud You Can’t Delete: A Review of “Age of You” at Jameel Arts Centre
BAH Mihrab: Mysticism, Devotion, and Geo-Identity
LDN Fulfilment Services Ltd. Questions Techno-Capitalism on Billboards in London
DXB Ana Escobar: Objects Revisited
TYO BIEN Opens Two Solo Exhibitions in Island Japan and Parcel
CTU/AUH/YYZ Sabrina Zhao: Between Abu Dhabi, Sichuan, and Toronto
RUH Noor Riyadh Shines Light on Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Art Strategy
DXB A Riot Towards Landscapes
DXB A ‘Menu Poem’ and All That Follows
DXB Alserkal Art Week Top Picks 
DXB Permeability and Regional Nodes: Sohrab Hura on Curating Growing Like a Tree at Ishara Art Foundation
AUH Re-viewing Contrasts: Hyphenated Spaces at Warehouse421
DXB There’s a Hurricane at the Foundry

📙 E-Issue 01 –– AUH/DXB Summer 2020 
  1. Editor’s Note 
  2. What’s On in the UAE
  3. Pop(Corn): Hashel Al Lamki
  4. Tailoring in Abu Dhabi
  5. Rapport: Dubai 
  6. Michael Rakowitz From the Diaspora

E-01++ Fall/Winter 2020-21
GRV MIA Anywhere Hosts First Virtual Exhibition of Female Chechen Artists    
DXB Sa Tahanan Collective Redefines Home for Filipino Artists
SHJ Sharjah Art Foundation Jets Ahead on the Flying Saucer
AUH SEAF Cohort 7 at Warehouse 421 
DXB 101 Strikes Again with Second Sale at Alserkal Avenue
DXB Spotlight on Dubai Design Week 2020
DXB Melehi’s Waves Complicate Waving Goodbye
DXB Kanye Says Listen to the Kids: Youth Takeover at Jameel Arts Centre
DAM Investigating the Catalogues of the National Museum of Damascus
AUH Ogamdo: Crossing a Cultural Highway between Korea and the UAE
TYO James Jarvis Presents Latest Collages at 3110NZ
DXB Do You See Me How I See You?
DXB Thaely Kicks Off Sustainable Sneakers
AUH BAIT 15 Welcomes New Member Zuhoor Al Sayegh
MIA a_part Gives Artists 36 Hours to React

UAE Tawahadna Introduces MENA Artists to a Global Community
LHR/CAI Alaa Hindia’s Jewelry Revives Egyptian Nostalgia
DXB Taaboogah Infuses Comedy Into Khaleeji Menswear
DXB Meet Tamila Kochkarova Behind ‘No Boys Allowed’
DXB Alserkal Arts Foundation Presents Mohamed Melehi
AUH/DXB 101 Pioneers Ethical and Curious Art Collecting
AUH Sarah Almehairi Initiates Conversations
DXB Augustine Paredes Taking Up Space
LHR/MCT Hanan Sultan Rhymes Frankincense with Minimalism
BEY GAD Map: Arts & Culture Relief for Beirut

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🎙️ GAD Talk Series –– Season 1 2020
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Ana Escobar: Objects Revisited

By Emília Vieira Branco and Daniel H. Rey

Published on April 28th, 2021

    “Who hasn’t found a hair on a pillow?,” asks Ana Escobar on Zoom. Her question is not about hair itself, but about her treatment of the material as an artist. Ever since GAD’s relaunch, the publication has awakened some interest in contemporary jewelry practices in the region. With Hanan Sultan and Alaa Hindia we have found our readers’ passion about the ‘craft and ‘design’ of jewelry. To triangulate this conversation, Ana Escobar joins at an ideal time. Currently featured by Daniel H. Rey (co-author of this article) on Naqd Critique’s Borrowed Vision, Ana Escobar is proposing new terms to her practice. Below, an introduction to her work as well as extended quotes.

Raised in Colombia, trained in France and based in the UAE since 2020, Ana Escobar introduces herself as a jewelry artist. Within that artistry of hers, we find that jewelry materials transcend metals. In her words, “My work is mostly about the relationship that, as humans, we have with objects. It can be a spoon or a cup, something that we can use everyday.” Ana, mastering four languages and a handful of mediums, adds a signature statement: “I don't believe in a hierarchy of materials, I can work either with gold or with hair that I picked up from the floor.”

Ana Escobar, air, old bed linen and a needle, 2020. Images courtesy of the artist.

“I don't believe in a hierarchy of materials, I can work either with gold or with hair that I picked up from the floor.”

Reflecting on the materials in her work hair, old bed linen and a needle, 2020, Ana shares that she is interested in “the connection between human and object, the materials, and what the body leaves behind.” Her last works with hair, during the lockdown in France, were made entirely from the exact amount of her hair she collected, from floors, from pillows in that particular period of confinement.  As a creative, she equates a golden wedding ring with hair left on the floor. Through her eyes, “Making jewelry, any object that has a relationship with the body can be considered in the same way: questioning preciousness, questioning value, questioning attachment, questioning memory. All the same things that I question about jewelry, to me, can be also translated to objects.” She observes inanimate, often mundane, objects as “containers” of moments. Her interest in human relations and impulses, prompts her to question how the body relates, departs from, and lives in its surroundings.

Images courtesy of Ana Escobar.

“All the same things that I question about jewelry, to me, can be also translated to objects.”

With what Ana questions, we are asked to revisit our seeing practices around objects. And by consequence, how we treat our material habitats. The artist relies on hair and bed linen to present us with a conundrum: that while virtually anybody has interacted with hair or bed linen, these are not necessarily treated as “universal” materials, let alone in the world of jewelry and object production. Her question, across the board, is one and the same “Who hasn’t found a hair on a pillow?”. She further elaborates on this, “I’m interested in hair because it represents your DNA, it's in your everyday life, you touch it, you fix it, culturally there are so many connotations about hair. You hide it, you show it. It can be a really seductive material while still being attached to the body. And very disturbing when you find it on a plate of food, or in the floor, or in a bathroom. This ambiguity of the material is really interesting to me.”

Ana Escobar. Para Efrain, work in progress, video and installation. Images courtesy of the artist.

“Who hasn’t found a hair on a pillow?”

More questions follow the artist’s critical engagement with her work and media. In her words, “I have been questioning myself about what is it that interests me in my practice. Why not just jewelry? Why do I have a connection with objects?” Ana takes a moment to reply her own questions,  “I’m interested in all these elements that have to do with being human.”

It is precisely in that questioning of the human through objects where we see Ana’s work challenging the devaluation of inanimate, anonymous objects, in an attempt to revisit the politics of value.  Her work Chez Moi, Chez Moi advances the artist’s relationship with hair. This work with two iterations thus fur,  is a scapular. The scapular is inherently dual, with a cord that splits it in two, an image in the back and another in the front.

Image courtesy of Ana Escobar. 
Ana’s scapular is more tied to geography than to faith per se. Attempting to contrast, cohabit, and wear both her homes in Cali, Colombia and Paris, France the maker delineates the Google Maps aerial view of her neighborhoods, but not with pencil or ink, with hair. Having migrated herself, the artist reflects on the experience of those whose homes oscillate between places. She uses the scapular as a bridging object that enables her to literally flip from her parents’ house to her apartment in Paris. “In Chez Moi, Chez Moi I'm showing the places where my parents live and I'm doing it with my own hair.”

Image courtesy of Ana Escobar.
Chez Moi, Chez Moi adds another layer to the duality of scapulars as it triggers the collapse of temporalities. On the one hand, the artist draws from hereditary material practices such as the use of escapulars as objects of remembrance. On the other hand, she converges the escapular with fallen hair, an inherently ephemeral material which carries loss. As the artist converges the temporalities of ‘geographical’ heritage with that of her hair, she questions both as fundamental containers of intimacy, history and relationality.

The artist explains that at the beginning of her artistic practice, after having left her country, some family issues prompted in her the desire to capture the footprint of her own life.  Loss, death and ephemerality led the artist to question the possibilities of objects and jewelry as tools for remembrance. In this journey, her discoveries prompted her to ask how to fix fleeting memories of moments she did not want to escape from her?  She has an answer for her own question, “A key word in my work is ‘containment’. Different kinds of containment in different moments of life. How the way we contain something defines the way we live and where we live, time and territories.”

“A key word in my work is ‘containment’.”

Ana’s practice treats jewelry in a rather expansive way. Her interest in the medium of jewelry as well as her approach to objects has been highly informed by archaeology. “In archaeological findings you find elements of domesticity and preciousness together. You have the vessels and the jewels. Probably, you had textiles too but they have not lasted.”  In her artist statement, the artist writes that “the first man-hand-perforated shell beads date from around one hundred thousand years ago and then, the desire of understanding why humans gave materials different values and started decorating their biological bodies, takes over me.” 

When asked further about her interest in archaeology and the sciences as her research process, the artist asserts: “Everything started as an archaeology of my own life.”  She follows, “The beginning of my work is very much about personal journey. But, when I research sentimental jewelry, a kind of jewelry that lasted for centuries, I’m talking about wedding rings, relicarios [reliquaries] or scapulars, these works are very much attached to my personal history. But all these pieces can be reappropriated by anyone. Because these commemorative pieces, the gift from birth, the pieces you take with you when you are buried, the elements you give when you promise love to someone, no matter the culture, these things are there for anyone.”

“Everything started as an archaeology of my own life.”

For the artist, archaeology unearths a couple of tensions. One of them being the notions of  the domestic and the precious. She questions the fact that some objects are so important that humans end up being buried with them. Objects act, this time around, as vessels for her to examine rituals of life and death. The artist resonates with Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ principle that “Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers it and how one remembers it in order to recount it.” Referencing Garcia Marquez is not minor for Ana. The writer’s voice is one of her anchors when looking at the country that raised her and why she left it. “I left Colombia, because I wanted to discover the world.” To this thought follows the curiosity with which she questions those who did not grow up in the same cosmos. “How do you marry? How do you bury your loved ones?” are questions that the jewelry artist carries in her toolbox as vehicles to understand key aspects of human relationships.

Plenty of Ana’s practice revolves around sentimental and commemorative jewelry, the jewelry that marks the key moments in life. “Sentimental jewelry from the 18th and 19th century has taken a big part of my research because in this period of time jewelry was the way people had to mark moments, to commemorate, happiness and sadness,” she highlights. Temporality is certainly present in the work.

Undeniably, referencing Garcia Marquez is an access point to question how time, life, death, and even archaeology intersect in Ana’s practice. Her series Itineraire compiles different pieces which embrace this discovery. Within it, in Recordatorio, the artist stamps the important dates in her family life ever since she left Colombia.

Images courtesy of Ana Escobar.

Relicarios, for example, is a necklace which contains numerous small objects in lockets. Each object represents an intimate testimony. Much like archaeological findings function as witnesses to inaccessible histories, Ana Escobar’s pieces witness her own past and, at large, the sentimental and memorial value assigned to jewelry and objects. In a way, the artist is extending the life of the materials and objects she engages with. Her examinations engage with life and death, “what is gained and what is lost”. As she puts it “The red line that connects my work is time.”

“The red line that connects my work is time.”

Images courtesy of Ana Escobar.

On the note of time, the idea of wearing it comes to mind. For Ana, however, her work is not about wearability. Wearing her pieces, it seems, is merely a function they have. She mentions, “All my works can be worn, except some sculptural pieces. But if they are not worn, they can be held or put on the body. They do have an extreme connection with the body and they are a comment about jewelry.” She is interested in unearthing an object’s value in light of time and the moment in life it fits in. Beyond this, the artist expresses concern with audiences constantly wanting to classify seemingly wearable objects as “more jewelry or less jewelry.” In reality her work is about jewelry at large . “I do believe that my work is all about jewelry. It’s a comment about jewelry, the history of jewelry, and the attachment we have to certain elements,” she shares. 

“I do believe that my work is all about jewelry. It’s a comment about jewelry, the history of jewelry, and the attachment we have to certain elements.”

In Alliances, the artist interprets the perpetuity and commitment of wedding rings with a new form. Reacting to the fact that wedding rings are something that people either wear to their graves, pass down to their descendants, or that they remove to symbolize separations, Ana partners with gloves and thread. She embroiders the two lovers’ destiny lines on the surface of the gloves. Then they put on their skin the destiny lines of the other. “The gloves are a comment about the archetype of the wedding ring -how we exchange a golden band. The golden band is a popular image of the commitment, forever, of wearing a golden band with the name of the other engraved inside.”

Images courtesy of Ana Escobar.

The artist’s curiosity about human relationships is not only about long-lasting ones. She cares, deeply it seems, about ephemeral relations, about transiency, and even about how relations, human, diplomatic, and migratory get politicized. An avid reader of sociology and politics, in her Migraciones series Ana explores how nomadism forms and undoes relationships. The work is specifically tied to her research about Venezuelan migration to Colombia, mostly by foot. The exodus that she investigates with her work carries parallels, “I was seeing exactly the same thing in France, all around the world actually. Migraciones is not about a particular exile but the many exiles happening around the world.” With objects, Ana is engaging with places she has access to. Further, she relies on research and her object-making process to examine the ills and glories of distant, yet human, places.

Image courtesy of Ana Escobar.

As closing thoughts, Ana shares that our ability to access places and previous times is tied to how we contain them. Containment, again, is an idea that keeps on coming back. An advocate of objects and the containment they are capable of, the artist identifies new forms of pursuing it. “Right now my perception is that the phone has replaced all these elements. The phone has become the ultimate locket. You have your pictures, you have your texts, you can go back to them. In the same way somebody would look in the 18th century at a locket with a picture of a loved one because this person had gone far, to war, or died, in that same way today we look at our phone, which is also very tactile. To me the phone is like a jewel, it’s the same.”

“To me the phone is like a jewel, it’s the same.”

This reference to technology is one of the many directions in which Ana Escobar’s work is headed. A curious maker having ventured outside of metal-based jewelry, the artist has an emerging practice worth continuing to witness. A jewelry artist and master of objects, Ana has been in Dubai for eight months and we have been lucky to have first met through GAD. Her geographical and contextual shift presents itself as prolific for an artist whose work is personal in its dedication, yet universal in its application. For those struggling to find a hair on a pillow, here is an artist pointing at it.

Ana Escobar is a featured artist within Naqd Critique’s Borrowed Visions program (April) - her Online Critique Session will be moderated by curator, and co-author of this article, Daniel H. Rey on Wednesday, April 28th at 9pm GST.

Ana Escobar has a cross-disciplinary creative practice working on the frontiers of craft, art and design.  Born and bred in Colombia, after living and working 3 years in Italy and 13 years in France, she recently moved to the UAE. For the last few years, she has combined a personal studio practice alongside other professional projects in a range of fields such as fashion, art, trend forecasting, among others. Her work has been featured in different printed publications and has been selected for group exhibitions across Europe, Switzerland, Colombia, Argentina, China, Australia, the USA and the UAE. Ana has a background in fashion and textiles and was trained in jewellery at Afedap Paris where she learned millinery techniques with contemporary approaches.  She continues to complete her training and education through residencies, workshops in material explorations, critical thinking, history of adornment and most recently curatorial practices. 

Follow Ana Escobar on Instagram.