Kanye Says Listen to the Kids: Youth Takeover at Jameel Arts Centre
By Christopher Benton
Published on November 13, 2020
With the Youth Takeover, Jameel Arts Centre continues to affirm its position as an essential pillar for emerging artists in the UAE. This second edition presents a new batch of young artists and curators, all under the age of 30. The Youth Takeover was organized over the course of a year and curated by the Jameel Youth Assembly’s members Tala Khalil, Tasnim Tinawi, Mohammad Mhaisen, Daniel H. Rey, Ashay Bhave, Saad Boujane, Aliyah Alawadhi, Arthur de Oliveira and Dina Al Khatib. The show ends on November 16th, so run — don’t walk.
1. The Jameel Youth Assembly, organizers and curators of the Youth Takeover. Images by Augustine Paredes courtesy of Jameel Arts Centre.
2. The Jameel Youth Assembly members. Left to right: Tala Khalil, Tasnim Tinawi, Mohammad Mhaisen, Daniel H. Rey, Ashay Bhave, Saad Boujane, Aliyah Alawadhi, Arthur de Oliveira, and Dina Al Khatib. Image courtesy of Jameel Arts Centre with edits by Ashay Bhave..
With the Youth Takeover, Jameel Arts Centre continues to affirm its position as an essential pillar for emerging artists in the UAE.
The Youth Takeover hinges on a rather revolutionary idea. It’s a temporary pop-up show which gives new artists and curators a voice. They get to install works in between and among works from established artists like Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Michael Rakowitz. Rakowitz’s astonishing survey is still on view, by the way, and a major must-see.
3. Left: Excrescence by commissioned artist Talal Al Najjar. Image courtesy of Jameel Arts Centre. Right: The invisible enemy should not exist by Michael Rakowitz. Image by Daniella Baptista courtesy of Jameel Arts Centre.
This leads to interesting activations in liminal and intermittent non-spaces. For instance, Mohamed Khalid presents an approximation of his apartment’s elevator in the Jameel Art Centre’s own elevator. Etched in graphite, some might not notice it as an artwork at all. Other guests — assuming the work was participatory — have already made their own graffiti and etchings on the installation.
6. Commissioned artist Mohamed Khalid stands in front of his piece Elevator Wall. Image by Augustine Paredes courtesy of Jameel Arts Centre.
Similarly, brother-sister duo Nasser and Mariam Alzayani use the guest coat lockers near the entryway to re-create a teenager’s high school locker in their kitsch-cool installation Prayer Chairs & British Club Tattoos.
7. Curator Dina Khatib opens the locker part of Prayer Chairs & British Club Tattoos by Nasser and Mariam Alzayani. Images by Augustine Paredes courtesy of Jameel Arts Centre.
Some of the most exciting works were commissioned by Paraguayan curator Daniel H. Rey, who has 3 artists in the show and is fast establishing himself as a major force just out of college. Most impressive is probably Sree and his stunning 1958_sand, which is apparently his first-ever installation. Touching on the artist’s own childhood trauma as an outsider in Al Qusais, Dubai, the work features a hypnotic film with stunning 3D sound design that ping-pongs around the room. Turmeric-soaked found objects complete the installation offering up a heady but poetic counterpoint to the text that flashes on-screen.
Rey also curates Zuhoor Al Sayegh, who shares a lovely collagist textile work that is at once seductively-local but also rousingly personal. Entitled Sorry to Add Fish to the Salad, it’s situated on the floor, performatively begging guests to cuddle inside.
Other artists offer up social critique. Emirati artist Hassana Arif’s photo series Treat Yourself displays lovingly-crafted vignettes of women in peril, touching on oppressive beauty standards.
Similarly covering issues of female empowerment, Veiled by Malaika Munshi condenses 3 images into a lenticular, showing a man being covered in a traditional dupatta wrap to interrogate the social expectations of Muslim women in India.
Also look out for Indian artist Ashay Bhave. He shows off The Game of Life: Junior, which presents a detailed recreation of a toy fair stand in a pop art gesture, commenting on the guile of global leaders.
And nearby, you’ll find Life Square by Ahmad Geaissa and Boula Rami, a sleekly produced animated film that humorously uses an advertising infographic style to cheekily talk about social customs in Egypt.
If last year’s show was a bellwether, this one’s a youthquake.
If last year’s show was a bellwether, this one’s a youthquake. I’m calling it now — there are several people to come out of this show who will be a big deal over the coming years.
As Jameel Arts Centre approaches its second year anniversary, I must acknowledge the obvious: there are few global institutions with the daring to give fresh curators and artists the pride of place to share their talent in a museum. For Jameel, it’s clear that sometimes gatekeepers do allow the youth to takeover—not with force, but with brains, a spirit of collaboration, and a lot of heart.
There are few global institutions with the daring to give fresh curators and artists the pride of place to share their talent in a museum.
The Youth Takeover is on view until Monday, November 16. Visitors can book a slot via the Jameel Arts Centre website.
Visit the Youth Takeover at Jameel Arts Centre.
Read the Youth Takeover blog: Verticals.
Follow Jameel Arts Centre on Instagram.
Christopher Benton is a Dubai-based artist, music journalist, and advertising creative director working across photography, film, and installation art. His practice explores the narratives of black and brown people, through its interface with labor and the hypnotic power of the mediated image. Past work has been presented at Jameel Arts Centre, the Fikra Graphic Design Biennial, Alserkal Avenue, and the Dubai Design District. He was part of the Jameel Arts Centre Youth Takeover 2019.
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