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

E-05++
Fall/Winter 2022-23


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

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

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

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

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



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


E-04++ 
Spring/Summer 2022


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curator Interview March 21st, 2022

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

E-03++
Fall/Winter 2021-22


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

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

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

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

Exhibition Review February 11th, 2022
AUH Woman as a Noun, and a Practice: “As We Gaze Upon Her” at Warehouse421
Curator Interview October 15th, 2021
IST “Once Upon a Time Inconceivable”: A Review and a Conversation

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

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

Exhibition October 5th, 2021
DXB
Engage101 Presents “Connected, Collected” at Sotheby’s Dubai

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

E-02++
Spring/Summer 2021


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

E-01++
Fall/Winter 2020-21


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

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

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

Exhibition Review
November 23rd, 2020


AUH SEAF Cohort 7 at Warehouse 421 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Map August 16th, 2020
BEY GAD Map: Arts & Culture Relief for Beirut

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Mark

Melehi’s Waves Complicate Waving Goodbye


By Daniel H. Rey

Published on November 16, 2020

        Do waves ever end? After visiting Mohamed Melehi’s New Waves in Alserkal Avenue, this question has kept me awake at night. In late October we mourned the artist’s sudden passing. However, Melehi’s waves in the global art scene are bound to outlive him.

Artwork by Mohamed Melehi. New Waves: Mohamed Melehi and the Casablanca Art School Archives, Alserkal Arts Foundation, Dubai, September 19 - November 21, 2020. Image courtesy of Daniel H. Rey.

I first encountered Melehi’s work earlier this year after hearing it was coming to Concrete. Immediately carried away by the “new waves” curated by Morad Montazami and Madeleine de Colnet of Zamân Books & Curating, I have spent the past two months connecting, digesting and questioning Mohamed Melehi’s work. An artist whose work I knew nothing about until September suddenly became one of my main sources of artistic, political, and cosmopolitan inquiry. As New Waves departs from Dubai, what did the show give me and what did it leave me craving? Given that the exhibition closes on November 21st, this is a last-minute attempt at inviting others to check out the exhibition brought by the Alserkal Arts Foundation.



An artist whose work I knew nothing about until September suddenly became one of my main sources of artistic, political, and cosmopolitan inquiry.




Artworks by Mohamed Melehi. Image courtesy of Daniel H. Rey.

New Waves is a retrospective introduction to Melehi’s multi-faceted career as well as the Casablanca Art School where he was an educator (1964-1969). The show arrived in Dubai to give “UAE audiences a unique insight into a practice that feels critical and relevant for contemporary concerns in this region.” Balancing between the artist’s practice, forms and media, the exhibition, also grounded in post-independence Morocco, evokes conversations on Pan-Arabism, people’s liberation, and cross-cultural dialogue that continue to be in force. In the curators’ words, Melehi’s “wavy Third World frescoes take us on a cosmopolitan journey, drawing together the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.”

Artworks by Mohamed Melehi. Image courtesy of Daniel H. Rey.

Let’s talk about space. Concrete, the Rem Koolhaas-designed building in Alserkal is without a doubt an architectural tour de force. The space built on the former premises of an actual concrete factory, fully integrates the material into its design. Massive panels anchored to the high ceiling rotate granting versatility to a building whose name would otherwise imply rigidity. But here is the catch: unless its patio-facing gates are opened, the place remains pretty dark. Visiting the venue both during the morning and evening feels exactly the same, ligthing-wise.

Exhibition view. Photography by Mustafa Aboubacker for Seeing Things. Courtesy of Alserkal Avenue.

Melehi-inspired mural by Zayed University students. 

Installation view. New Waves: Mohamed Melehi and the Casablanca Art School Archives, Alserkal Arts Foundation, Dubai, September 19 - November 21, 2020. Image courtesy of Daniel H. Rey.


The exhibition is designed as an enclosure by way of the building’s rotating panels. On the outer walls, we are able to survey Melehi’s travels while being invited by way of video, posters, album covers and books to investigate a bit of the cultural products he consumed. Some of the objects feel isolated, like the album covers, for example. Had Melehi designed them? A staff member tells me later that these was music that he listened to, not albums whose covers he had designed —I left wanting a text with this important clarification.

Exhibition view. Photography by Mustafa Aboubacker for Seeing Things. Courtesy of Alserkal Avenue.

Album covers that Melehi listened to. Image courtesy of Daniel H. Rey.

Past the walls, within the “enclosure” we are inevitably carried by the waves. His milestone pieces apprehend us and the sound of his voice from videos playing on a loop subtly floods the space. No matter where we turn, colorful, pristine waves ebb and flow around us.



No matter where we turn, colorful, pristine waves ebb and flow around us.





Exhibition view. Photography by Mustafa Aboubacker for Seeing Things. Courtesy Alserkal.

The placement of the waves in the space ultimately choreographs my movement in the room. The colors and compositions, which speak for themselves, act as magnets that pull visitors into corners. The video installations ultimately confront me with Melehi’s signature pieces on the wall. Some spatial arrangements feel cluttered, and the texts and videos in French overlapping with Arabic leave my English-minded spectator mind slightly overwhelmed. Can I enjoy the waves with more silence? Or should I experience both visible colorwaves and invisible soundwaves? The waves are presented in such a way the exhibition space acquires movement, rhythm, color, and even its own architectural melody. 



The colors and compositions, which speak for themselves, act as magnets that pull visitors into corners.




Artworks by Mohamed Melehi. Image courtesy of Daniel H. Rey.

Artworks by Mohamed Melehi. Image courtesy of Daniel H. Rey.

This playful exhibition is chronologically structured. The curators categorized Melehi’s works into four sections that help us dissect his practice, his experiments and mediums, community-building efforts, and travels. The time periods, although not strictly linear or decade-by-decade (1950s to 80s), have a remarkable asset, they help the curators place Melehi’s work in a comprehensive genealogy of Afro-Berber art history.



The curators place Melehi’s work in a comprehensive genealogy of Afro-Berber art history.




In the space we can find wooden pieces, baskets, textiles, jewelry, and paintings made by Afro-Berber crafts masters who preceded Melehi’s trajectory yet laid the foundations of his style. With these objects, we can start to imagine how Melehi encountered, studied, and reinvented the wave. Such a detailed contextualization of the artist’s work is what ultimately enables visitors to grasp Melehi’s activism with postcolonial Moroccan art and transnational modernism, yet the exercise could have included more evidence from Melehi’s own personal artistic process. Such a journey is left to the audience’s speculation as the exhibition does not present many sketches, or halfway/unfinished pieces from the artist to fully dive into his experiments. Rather, in the true spirit of a curated “survey”, the audience is invited to ride on Melehi’s waves as the stunning finished products that they are.


The audience is invited to ride on Melehi’s waves as the stunning finished products that they are.



Artifacts showcased in the exhibition. Image courtesy of Daniel H. Rey

Artifacts showcased in the exhibition alongside artworks by Mohamed Melehi. Image courtesy of Daniel H. Rey

Archival by definition, New Waves offers plenty of access points into Melehi’s world and particularly unravels his key presence in the Casablanca Art School of the 1960s. What is more fascinating is that by way of letters, artist group photos, flyers, letters and printed press releases, we witness — five decades later — some of the first highly significant contacts between a MENA artist and the leading modern art voices of the Western world. The exhibition carefully walks us through the possibilities, challenges, and back-and-forths of Melehi entering the Rome and New York scene. He became many people’s “firsts:” first North African, first Moroccan, first foreign artist. What I am left wondering, however, is how exactly places like Galleria Trastevere, the Bronx Museum or the Guggenheim Museum came to know about Melehi without tokenizing his attractively foreign identity, let alone his work.



We witness — five decades later — some of the first highly significant contacts between a MENA artist and the leading modern art voices of the Western world.




Letter by curator Lawrence Alloway from the Guggenheim Museum addressing Topazia Alliata about Melehi’s work in Galleria Trastevere (Rome). November 26, 1962.

The visceral experience of being in the New Waves exhibition space is further upgraded by all the digital content available. On top of the exhibition being fully digitalized in light of the pandemic, the Alserkal Arts Foundation scored a remarkable collaboration with The Mosaic Rooms, MACAAL and other partners to provide a deep biographical dive into the artists career. The film MELEHI by Shalom Gorewitz is fully available online until the exhibition closes and the organizers were timely enough to give us a playlist and talk with Melehi himself. 

Untitled, 1970-1971, cellulose paint on wood. Private collection. Courtesy of Alserkal Arts Foundation.

Melehi may have physically left us but his waves, unmistakably his, are here to stay in our senses, in our next steps, and in our community. Melehi, we may have never struck a conversation, but your work spoke to me just on time. Even if I tried to bid you farewell, I can only hope your spirit stays in motion, just like your waves. I will not wave you goodbye while I can still catch your waves and walk on your path, hopefully forever. To leave us in your words:


“Any type of art you see, if you used it as a way of communication, a way of awakening attitudes, it could help broaden minds.”


- Mohamed Melehi


Mohamed Melehi. Headshot provided by Alserkal Arts Foundation.      


Learn more about Mohamed Melehi’s New Waves at Alserkal Avenue.
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