E-Issue 07 –– AUH
Winter 2023-24

January 29th, 2024

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in Abu Dhabi/Dubai
  3. Cover Interview: Shaikha Al Ketbi on Darawan
  4. Rapport: Public Art in the Gulf and a Case Study of Manar Abu Dhabi
  5. Hashel Al Lamki’s Survey Exhibition Maqam Reflects on a Decade of Practice in Abu Dhabi
  6. “You Can’t Stand on a Movement”: Michelangelo Pistoletto Interviews Benton Interviewing Pistoletto

Winter/Spring 2024

Curators Interview May 14, 2024
AUH Embracing Change through an Open System: Maya Allison and Duygu Demir on “In Real Time” at NYUAD Art Gallery

About ––

    What We Do
    Editorial Board

Interviews ––

    Selected Archive

Open Call ––

    E-08 Seoul

Newsletter ––

Chronological Archive ––

    Selected Archive

Artist Interview November 18th, 2016
AUH Raed Yassin in Abu Dhabi

Editorial March 1st, 2018
AUH Abu Dhabi Is The New Calabasas

Exhibition Listing May 22nd, 2018
DXB Christopher Benton: If We Don't Reclaim Our History, The Sand Will

Artist Interview June 15th, 2018
TYO An Interview with BIEN, a Rising Japanese Artist

Artist Interview July 17th, 2018
TYO Rintaro Fuse on Selfies and Cave Painting

Artist Interview August 28th, 2018
BER Slavs and Tatars: “Pulling a Thread to Undo The Sweater”

Artist Interview September 1st, 2018
NYC Shirin Neshat In Conversation with Sophie Arni and Ev Zverev

Artist Interview September 1st, 2018
PAR Hottest Spices: Michèle Lamy

E-Issue 01 –– AUH/DXB
Summer 2020

August 1st, 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

Fall/Winter 2020-21

Artist Interview August 23rd, 2020
LHR/MCT Hanan Sultan Rhymes Frankincense with Minimalism

Artist Interview August 24th, 2020
DXB Augustine Paredes Taking Up Space

Artist Interview August 26th, 2020
AUH Sarah Almehairi Initiates Conversations

Market Interview August 28th, 2020
AUH/DXB 101 Pioneers Ethical and Curious Art Collecting

Exhibition September 1st, 2020
DXB Alserkal Arts Foundation Presents Mohamed Melehi

Market Interview September 4th, 2020
DXB Meet Tamila Kochkarova Behind ‘No Boys Allowed’

Artist Interview September 7th, 2020
DXB Taaboogah Infuses Comedy Into Khaleeji Menswear

Artist Interview September 10th, 2020
LHR/CAI Alaa Hindia’s Jewelry Revives Egyptian Nostalgia

Curator Interview September 14th, 2020
UAE Tawahadna Introduces MENA Artists to a Global Community

Exhibition Review September 24th, 2020
MIA a_part Gives Artists 36 Hours to React

Artist Interview September 27th, 2020
AUH BAIT 15 Welcomes New Member Zuhoor Al Sayegh

Market Interview October 14th, 2021
DXB Thaely Kicks Off Sustainable Sneakers

Exhibition Review October 19th, 2020
DXB Do You See Me How I See You?

Exhibition October 22nd, 2020
TYO James Jarvis Presents Latest Collages at 3110NZ

Exhibition Review October 22nd, 2020
AUH Ogamdo: Crossing a Cultural Highway between Korea and the UAE

Book Review October 28th, 2020
DAM Investigating the Catalogues of the National Museum of Damascus

Exhibition Review November 13th, 2020
Kanye Says Listen to the Kids: Youth Takeover at Jameel Arts Centre

Exhibition Review November 16th, 2021
DXB Melehi’s Waves Complicate Waving Goodbye

Exhibition Review November 19th, 2020
DXB Spotlight on Dubai Design Week 2020

Exhibition Review November 21st, 2020
DXB 101 Strikes Again with Second Sale at Alserkal Avenue

Exhibition Review
November 23rd, 2020

AUH SEAF Cohort 7 at Warehouse 421

Exhibition Review December 9th, 2020
SHJ Sharjah Art Foundation Jets Ahead on the Flying Saucer

Curator Interview January 25th, 2021
DXB Sa Tahanan Collective Redefines Home for Filipino Artists

Exhibition Review February 21st, 2021
GRV MIA Anywhere Hosts First Virtual Exhibition of Female Chechen Artists  

🎙️GAD Talk Series –– Season 1 2020

November 1st, 2020
1. What is Global Art Daily? 2015 to Now

November 16th, 2020
2. Where is Global Art Daily? An Open Coversation on Migration as Art Practitioners

November 29th, 2020
3. When the Youth Takes Over: Reflecting on the 2020 Jameel Arts Centre Youth Takeover

December 20th, 2020
4. Young Curators in Tokyo: The Making of The 5th Floor

January 27th, 2021
5. How To Create Digital Networks in The Art World?

E-Issue 02 –– NYC
Spring 2021

February 21st, 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

Spring/Summer 2021

Exhibition Review March 3rd, 2021
DXB There’s a Hurricane at the Foundry

Exhibition Review March 7th, 2021
AUH Re-viewing Contrasts: Hyphenated Spaces at Warehouse421

Curator Interview March 21st, 2021
DXB Permeability and Regional Nodes: Sohrab Hura on Curating Growing Like a Tree at Ishara Art Foundation

Exhibition March 28th, 2021
DXB Alserkal Art Week Top Picks

Exhibition Review April 1st, 2021
DXB A ‘Menu Poem’ and All That Follows

Exhibition Review April 5th, 2021
DXB A Riot Towards Landscapes

Exhibition April 16th, 2021
RUH Noor Riyadh Shines Light on Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Art Strategy

Artist Interview April 26th, 2021
CTU/AUH/YYZ Sabrina Zhao: Between Abu Dhabi, Sichuan, and Toronto

Exhibition Review April 27th, 2021
TYO BIEN Opens Two Solo Exhibitions in Island Japan and Parcel

Artist Interview April 28th, 2021
DXB Ana Escobar: Objects Revisited

Exhibition May 9th, 2021
LDN Fulfilment Services Ltd. Questions Techno-Capitalism on Billboards in London

Artist Interview May 11th, 2021
BAH Mihrab: Mysticism, Devotion, and Geo-Identity

Curator Interview May 20th, 2021
DXB There Is A You In The Cloud You Can’t Delete: A Review of “Age of You” at Jameel Arts Centre

Market Interview May 26th, 2021
TYO Startbahn, Japan’s Leading Art Blockchain Company, Builds a New Art Infrastructure for the Digital Age

Exhibition June 11th, 2021
TYO “Mimicry of Hollows” Opens at The 5th Floor

Exhibiton Review June 20th, 2021
AUH “Total Landscaping”at Warehouse 421

Artist Interview June 30th, 2021
OSA Rintaro Fuse Curates “Silent Category” at Creative Center Osaka

Exhibition Review August 9th, 2021
DXB “After The Beep”: A Review and Some Reflections

E-Issue 03 ––TYO
Fall 2021

October 1st, 2022

  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

Fall/Winter 2021-22

Market Interview October 6th, 2021
RUH HH Prince Fahad Al Saud Discusses Saudi Arabia’s Artistic Renaissance

Exhibition October 7th, 2021
RUH Misk Art Institute’s Annual Flagship Exhibition Explores the Universality of Identity

Curator Interview October 15th, 2021
IST “Once Upon a Time Inconceivable”: A Review and a Conversation

Exhibition Review October 16th, 2021
AUH Woman as a Noun, and a Practice: “As We Gaze Upon Her” at Warehouse421

Exhibition Review February 11th, 2022

Artist Interview February 26th, 2022
TYO Akira Takayama on McDonald’s Radio University, Heterotopia, and Wagner Project

Artist Interview March 10th, 2022
DXB Prepare The Ingredients and Let The Rest Flow: Miramar and Zaid’s “Pure Data” Premieres at Satellite for Quoz Arts Fest 2022

Exhibition March 11th, 2022
DXB Must-See Exhibitions in Dubai - Art Week Edition 2022

Exhibition Review March 14th, 2022
DXB Art Dubai Digital, An Alternative Art World?

E-Issue 04 –– IST
Spring 2022

March 15th, 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

Spring/Summer 2022

Curator Interview March 21st, 2022

Market Interview March 28th, 2022
DXB Dubai's Postmodern Architecture: Constructing the Future with 3dr Models

Exhibition April 23rd, 2022
HK Startbahn Presents “Made in Japan 3.0: Defining a New Phy-gital Reality”, an NFT Pop-Up at K11 Art Mall

Exhibition May 6th, 2022
Istanbul’s 5533 Presents Nazlı Khoshkhabar’s “Around and Round”

Artist Interview May 13th, 2022
“We Are Witnessing History”: Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian On Their Retrospective Exhibition at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery

Artist Interview June 13th, 2022
DXB “Geometry is Everywhere”: An Interview and Walking Tour of Order of Magnitude, Jitish Kallat’s Solo Exhibition at Dubai’s Ishara Art Foundation

Exhibition June 21st, 2022
DXB Art Jameel Joins The World Weather Network in a Groundbreaking Response to Global Climate Crisis

Exhibition June 27th, 2022
What’s On in the UAE: Our Top Summer Picks

Curator Interview July 9th, 2022
IST Creating an Artist Books Library in Istanbul: Aslı Özdoyuran on BAS

E-Issue 05 –– VCE
Fall 2022

September 5th, 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

Fall/Winter 2022-23

Market Interview June 28th, 2022
How Pearl Lam Built Her Gallery Between China and Europe

Exhibition November 11th, 2022
“Atami Blues” Brings Together UAE-Based and Japanese Artists in HOTEL ACAO ANNEX

Exhibition December 2nd, 2022
TYO Wetland Lab Proposes Sustainable Cement Alternative in Tokyo

Artist Interview December 9th, 2022
DXB Navjot Altaf Unpacks Eco-Feminism and Post-Pandemic Reality at Ishara Art Foundation

Artist Interview January 8th, 2023
TYO Shu Yonezawa and the Art of Animation

Artist Interview January 19th, 2023
NYC Reflecting on Her Southwestern Chinese Bai Roots, Peishan Huang Captures Human Traces on Objects and Spaces

Exhibition Review February 9th, 2023
DXB Augustine Paredes Builds His Paradise Home at Gulf Photo Plus

Artist Interview February 22nd, 2023
DXB Persia Beheshti Shares Thoughts on Virtual Worlds and the State of Video Art in Dubai Ahead of Her Screening at Bayt Al Mamzar

E-Issue 06 –– DXB/SHJ
Spring 2023

April 12th, 2023

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in the UAE
  3. Pop(Corn): Jumairy
  4. Rapport: Art Dubai 2023
  5. Highlights from Sharjah Biennial 15
  6. Is Time Just an Illusion? A Review of "Notations on Time" at Ishara Art Foundation
  7. Saif Mhaisen and His Community at Bayt AlMamzar

DXB Christopher Joshua Benton to Debut Mubeen, City as Archive at The Third Line Shop in Collaboration with Global Art Daily

🔍 Legal

2015-24 Copyright Global Art Daily. All Rights Reserved.


Joy, Aid, Heat: Coded Gestures at NIKA Project Space

By Daniel H. Rey

Published on July 14th, 2023

        Dubai embraces its unapologetic summer and, with rough temperatures, what remains tender? As we further retreat into indoors monotony, what is the last “something” that can smile at us, or save us?

Running from May to July, Coded Gestures is the second exhibition at the newly opened NIKA Project Space in Dubai’s Al Quoz. Curated by Nadine Khalil, the exhibition features the works of five artists practicing from West to East Asia. 

1. (Left) Installation view of Frozen series, 2023 by Minja Gu. Black and white photographic prints, 110cm x 165cm each. (Right) Minja Gu. House Tea de la Maison de la Casa, 2019-2023. Performance and documentation. Courtesy of NIKA Project Space. Photography by Ismail Noor | Seeing Things

Khalil states that “throughout the exhibition, a comment is being made on non-productive forms of labor in repetitive vocabularies that can be seen as either emancipatory or oppressive in our output-driven, capitalist era.” The very labor at the heart of Coded Gestures may seem non-productive, but it is also athletic labor, nutritional labor, displaced labor, migratory labor, literary labor. When we problematize our very ability to work, how do we portray joy? How do we cry for help? Coded Gestures is not about the artworks for what they say, but for what they intend on and point at, for the joys they trigger and the help they demand.

Throughout the exhibition, a comment is being made on non-productive forms of labor in repetitive vocabularies that can be seen as either emancipatory or oppressive in our output-driven, capitalist era.

- Nadine Khalil

In digesting the exhibition, I go back to a quote by artist André Butzer who believed that paintings are “localizations of the greatest despair and the greatest hope, which is why they come closest to the very joy and aid we are in dire need of.” With this, I also think of videos, AI-generated imagery, sculpture and performance—any medium really—as localizations of despair and hope. The binary of emancipation and oppression that Khalil discussed may well be translated into the joy and aid portrayed in the exhibition. In this spirit, the works in Coded Gestures edge us a few inches closer to the joy and aid we may well lack as mercury hits 50 ºC.

With close attention to language, we witness constant instances of “repetition” of actions and “classifications” of everyday life items. In its two floors, connected by a steep flight of stairs, the exhibition investigates and exposes the subtle ways in which artists insert their routines, preoccupations, and the slight absurdities surrounding them into greater systems and operations: food supplies and meal deliveries, construction materials, migration and cultural erasure, artificial intelligence and, why not, the Olympics.

When we problematize our very ability to work, how do we portray joy? How do we cry for help?

2. Installation view of Coded Gestures, curated by Nadine Khalil at NIKA Project Space. Courtesy of NIKA Project Space. Photography by Ismail Noor | Seeing Things

The exhibition is initially framed by quoting Dubai-based artist Khalid, who has peppered a sentence on three delivery notes of meals eaten days before the opening:

“There is
a part of me
that wants to hide”

Breaking down this statement embodying the show, Coded Gestures engages with those “parts” in the artists’ lives, “parts” that are humanized or have agency, “parts” that seek concealment.
  3. Khalid. Receipts II, 2023. Receipts, receipt holders, comment section. Courtesy of NIKA Project Space. Photography by Ismail Noor | Seeing Things

By the wall, Khalid presents a durational piece sharing an extension of his long journey photographing the sunset. For this, he feeds his installation with a photograph of the sunset every day of the exhibition, which gets printed on the spot and hung with the aid of gallery staff. Khalid transforms the daily occurrence of dusk into a preserved, cataloged and delegated archive. The delegation of tasks is a soft introduction into the wider, and not minor, theme of labor in the exhibition.

Khalid transforms the daily occurrence of dusk into a preserved, cataloged and delegated archive. 

 4. Khalid. My job is to look at the sunset, 2023. iPhone, printer, letter, sunset, variable dimensions. Courtesy of NIKA Project Space. Photography by Ismail Noor | Seeing Things

On a tight corner across the room, Alexander Ugay unpacks a chilling story of his parents navigating labor, migration and erasure as Kazakhstan-based workers of Korean descent. Ugay, one of the artists in the show represented by the gallery, now lives in South Korea and has begun unraveling the productive forces that once “justified” and also shaped his family's displacement forever. With a participation spanning video work, photo collage and mini sculptures with text, what first calls my attention is the work generated with the help of AI. Building on images of his mother and aunt as children in Soviet Central Asia, Ugay “delegates” the task to generate images of Kazakh girls doing X, Y, Z to a software. The generated image depicts women of Slavic complexion, a visual which is then transformed, presumably to his comfort, when the artist opens the AI prompt with the opening word “Korean”. Not far from here, a video shot in South Korea mimics factory line actions completed outdoors, and without tools. The different individuals depicted are former factory workers showing the productive bodily movements they have made for years and the epitome of what anglophones call “muscle memory”. In these gestures, Ugay dissects the past by visualizing it through a language learning model, or by modeling how others have learned the language of neo-capitalist productive labor. When the body has been misrepresented or exploited, who is there to give it rest?

When the body has been misrepresented or exploited, who is there to give it rest?

5. Alexander Ugay. Unknown Return, 2023. Mixed media installation, encaustic wax, digital prints, variable dimensions. Courtesy of NIKA Project Space. Photography by Ismail Noor | Seeing Things

The lobby also greets us with thin flower-patterned fabrics on the floor. These lead us to encounter Minja Gu’s House Tea de la Maison de la Casa (2019-2023), a careful arrangement of tea ware, herbs and flowers surveying the multiple ingredients one can have tea with. For the rest of the show, tea is not presented in its liquid form, but rather, inventoried, exposed, aired and audience-photographed, consumed but not ingested. It is a proponent, it seems, of essential forms of social gathering around the mundane, the ritualistic and the convivial.

In another of her works, 42.195 (2006), Gu shares visual documentation of a full marathon she completed in over two days. Unapologetic about her exhaustion, the seemingly nightmarish run stands as a lesson on perseverance and its positives. Her gesture complicates how humans see limitations, resilience, and even hope. 

Also dissecting the physicality of labor, Mona Ayyash’s installation Trampoline (2015) requires the audience to take two steps up a platform to observe a gymnast almost doing a flip during Olympic games. The curator offers us a birdseye view that maximizes this athletic feat and ridicules the flip by preventing us from actually witnessing it. This I recall as the most physical of interactions present in the exhibition. Here, anticipation, frustration and curiosity coexist.

6. Mona Ayyash. Trampoline, 2015. Single-channel digital video on plinth, 32’. Courtesy of NIKA Project Space. Photography by Ismail Noor | Seeing Things

Fatma Al Ali’s 3D garden-like piece titled My Mother Told Me Not to Collect Bricks (2020-23) speaks to the unseen joy of pursuing the once forbidden, while the irregular shapes of her gypsum blocks aiming for stability speak to a system of randomness, controlled chaos and, even, chicanery.

7. Fatma Al Ali. My Mother Told Me Not To Collect Bricks, 2020-2023. Gypsum bricks, latex bricks. Courtesy of NIKA Project Space. Photography by Ismail Noor | Seeing Things

Upstairs, floating from the warehouse’s ceiling, the multi-channel video installation She’ll be apples (2013) by Ayyash discloses multiple attempts of establishing a relationship with this fruit. The video’s choreography speaks to a process of representation through self, object, and object as self. Also in this fruity arena, Minja Gu presents a tree of hanging banana peels, a collage-type classification of potato peels, and, downstairs, a selection of ice sculptures of fruits. 

8. Mona Ayyash. She’ll be apples, 2013. Three-channel digital video, 36’ 59’’. Courtesy of NIKA Project Space. Photography by Ismail Noor | Seeing Things

The gallery’s office plays home to Khalid’s work During work hours (2022), which exposes and ridicules how we treat time, productivity and the parallel lives that counterbalance business hours. With this work, the curator consolidates a core value of the exhibition: that the artistic gestures of coding and concealing are ways of advocating for newer and freer forms of interpreting productivity. With a gallery turned into a laboratory of gestures, one gets to question virtually anything. I may have confused the air conditioner’s control pad next to the wall text to be an artwork about… the weather.

But it is precisely in this unsurmountable heat that one gets to digest a multi-course exhibition in a gallery whose bold and critical push is also finding its teenage DNA. NIKA is hoping to center the Middle East, women in the arts, and their counterparts, and possibly, I add, speak to a larger and more interconnected notion of Asia. All of this with voices that, even if newcomers to a sometimes hermetic scene, blow a wave of fresh air to a sometimes breathless environment. 

For months to come, may we continue being touched by gestures so subtle that they trigger joy, aid our needs, and even cool down our temperature. The art world may well be code-dependent, given its multiplicity of gestures; and co-dependent, given its absolute reliance on economically productive apparatuses.

The artistic gestures of coding and concealing are ways of advocating for newer and freer forms of interpreting productivity.

9. Minja Gu. Banana tree, 2018 - 2020. Dried banana peels on wooden structure, 190cm x 120cm x 120 cm. Courtesy of NIKA Project Space. Photography by Ismail Noor | Seeing Things

Daniel H. Rey researches, programs and curates between soils and Wi-Fis. His work is concerned with communities in the “Global South”: how they cross-pollinate, communicate, host, and experience hostility. Today, Daniel coordinates public programs at Art Jameel, where he is also active in youth-driven learning. In parallel, he has launched Almacén المخزن Armazém, a multimedia research project archiving and exhibiting creative practices tied to Latin America and the Arab world. Daniel feels at home in Asunción, Oslo, Dubai, and possibly Mars.

Daniel is former managing editor of Global Art Daily and a returnee contributing writer.


Nadine Khalil is an independent art critic, editor and researcher, curator. She is currently researching the body as an expanded site of performance and labor in the Gulf and Mediterranean region. After a decade-long stint in art publishing, she advises art institutions such as the Ishara Art Foundation, Goethe-Institut and the NYUAD Arts Center on editorial strategy, content development and publications. She is the former editor of Dubai-based contemporary art magazine, Canvas (2017-2020) and the Beirut-based magazines A mag and Bespoke (2010-2016). Her writing can be found in Art Agenda, Art Forum, The Art Newspaper, Artnet, Art Review Asia, Artsy, Broadcast, Brooklyn Rail, FT Arts, Frieze, Ocula and the Women’s Review of Books.  

NIKA Project Space offers the possibility of representation through art exhibitions and other initiatives for both emerging and increasingly established artists from the Middle East and internationally. The space provides a critically engaged program that emphasizes contemporaneity and cross-cultural dialogue in art creation with a focus on conceptualization, abstraction, and philosophical inquiry with a strong focus on the works by female artists. NIKA Project Space aims to break down barriers and forge dialogue across cultures through contemporary art by artists working in a range of artistic mediums, including performance, painting, photography, sculpture, installation and the digital realm.  Instagram

Published by:


A Global Art Daily Agency FZ-LLC subdivision.
Copyright, 2015-2023.
For reproduction, please contact us.