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

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The Future is “Crystal Clear”

By Nada Meshal

Published on May 5, 2024

        Marking its debut exhibition, Studio Salasil - a curatorial studio, and brainchild of Zainab Hasoon and Sara Bin Safwan - presents Crystal Clear, at Bayt al Mamzar. Opened ahead of Dubai’s busy art month, the exhibition is currently on view until May 11th. The meticulously curated exhibition showcases new and previous works by artists from the region such as Ali Eyal, Rami Farook, Dima Srouji, Mohammad AlFaraj, Sara Bokr, Miramar Al Nayyar and Ghad Al Majid as a confrontation to our current social, political, and cultural climate, through imagining alternative futures.

Addressing ongoing online and offline discourse surrounding the tragedy of yesterday and today, the question of tomorrow is empowered through an abandonment of the restrictions that come with the corporeal.

As the genocide of the Palestinian people continues in an unremitting fashion - made more horrific by the fact that each crime committed against them is documented for the world to see - the question of humanity is brought up. As a result, a rejection of the material world becomes unavoidable, and the image which is placed at the forefront, becomes both alpha and omega.

For Crystal Clear, artists have come together to imagine and dream, and to construct a collective reality, which honors memory, free of constraint.

Both standing, larger than life, and at the front of the exhibition; Sara Bokr’s The Material Fabrication School of Gaza (2024) re-conceptualises materials and methods of construction to envision concrete renovation, while Ali Eyal’s Paper, Pen, Map in a Pocket, and (2023) offers a kaleidoscope of phantasms as a complete distortion of any absolute state of being.

1. Sara Bokr, The Material Fabrication School of Gaza, 2024. 3D Printed Plastic, sketches and renderings on paper. Installation view at “Crystal Clear”, curated by Salasil Studio at Bayt Al Mamzar, Dubai. 3 February - 11 May, 2024. Image courtesy of the curators.

For Crystal Clear, artists have come together to imagine, and to dream, and to construct a collective reality, which honors memory, free of constraint.

Moving further into the show, Haneen Sidahmed’s Revolution, Fever Dreams (2019) stands as a stark testament to the ongoing, through a series of auditory and visual archival broadcasts. By confronting and defying the real, “memories, fantasies, delusions, and dreams” are invited to make way for a manipulation, and manifestation of the “image,” as Studio Salasil’s curatorial foreword states.

With archival material appearing as a principal theme throughout the exhibition, Juline Hadaya’s A Maps is not a Territory (2024) also uses crucial sound records to accompany her crystal block sculpture, which exists as an effigy that challenges the notion of state borders and souvenirs, dancing between the tragedy of evocation, and the sentimentality of recollection. Meanwhile Dima Srouji’s Pixelated Occupation (2016), and Looking for Jaffa (2019), combines two separate works of satellite imagery as a way to draw parallels between proceeding and active erasure of ownership and identity, and that which has already become obsolete.

Works rooted in the emotional and the sentimental also feature, such as Ghad Al Majid’s B4B (2024), and Asma Elhassan’s Grandmother (2019), to bring us back to prevailing themes of warmth and kinship as a form of resistance to cataclysm.

2. Dima Srouji, Pixelated Occupation, 2016; Looking for Jaffa, 2019. Installation views at “Crystal Clear”, curated by Salasil Studio at Bayt Al Mamzar, Dubai. 3 February - 11 May, 2024. Image courtesy of the curators.

The result is a show which captures the reality of the image as the vanguard of our exposure, but also as simply a spectacle, from which we should never stop exploiting for the purpose of real-izing the imagined.

“For the sleeper who sleeps in hope will soon reawaken to reality inspired by a new dream.” – Haytham El Wardany, Book of Sleep

I had the privilege of speaking with Zainab and Sara, delving deeper into the inspiration behind Crystal Clear, their own interpretation of memory, fantasy, and corporeality, and their aspirations for Studio Salasil going forward.

3. Mohammad Farraj, Oh pomegranate of my heart, Oh olive tree of my heart, Oh palm tree of my heart, Oh fig tree of my heart, 2024. Charcoal, natural and unnatural colors, cotton paper. Installation views at “Crystal Clear”, curated by Salasil Studio at Bayt Al Mamzar, Dubai. 3 February - 11 May, 2024. Image courtesy of the curators.

Nada Meshal: Let’s start with the venue. How or why did you choose Bayt al Mamzar as the venue for your exhibition, and what significance does it hold for your practice?

Zainab Hasoon: Bayt Al Mamzar aligns with our practice of disrupting spaces. It’s a free-flowing environment giving us room to experiment with and within the space.

N.M.: Could you elaborate on the themes explored in your exhibition, particularly regarding archiving and the future?

Sara Bin Safwan: Our exhibition delves into questioning society's fixation on the past – we tried to present something that inspires discourse and creates new alternative futures. We also tried to tackle questions surrounding archiving, more specifically about its relevance and importance, and how we can approach it differently.

We aimed to create archives that encompassed not just material objects, but also intangible elements like emotions and memories.

N.M.: I wanted to ask, do you think the restrictions for what we consider as archival materials should be reassessed in the digital age? It’s an era when anything really relevant or particularly outstanding–that can or should be shared–becomes very quickly widely available. So, in a way it becomes difficult to distinguish between interpretations, because certain things have become so universally understood. To me, the word “archive” implies, yes, a documentation of the present, but also an interpretation of it.

S.B.S.: When I think of that, I think about how archives have been traditionally used, but also of the mechanism of the archive itself. We thought a lot about the implications behind the creator of the archive, as well as who it is created for.

We also questioned how archives are manipulated, or controlled, and the importance they hold in creating our own narratives and histories.

So essentially, we saw this exhibition as an epilogue to our own history and our own narrative. We really tried to expand that idea and dismantle it in our exhibition.

For example, Rami Farook comes to mind, whose works touch on multiple different layers of archives. Repurposing and reappropriating the Internet as an archive, he reconstructs it into his own daily journal entries. Through this, he brings us back to a particularly significant moment or feeling, and even allows for new ways for these archives to be utilized. As evidence of our presence, evidence of that history, evidence of what's been going on as well.

4. Rami Farook, 09.12.23…, 2023. Oil, acrylic, charcoal, and spray paint on canvas. Image courtesy of the artist and curators.

We thought a lot about the implications behind the creator of the archive, as well as who it is created for. This exhibition is an epilogue to our own history and our own narrative. 

- Sara Bin Safwan

Z.H.: To expand on what Sara said, but in relation to the exhibition as a whole, I want to talk about why we decided to go forward with this exhibition, as our debut one.

What we're witnessing and what's happening in the world and the online world right now can be identified within the curatorial text, we state that “the images are at our forefront,” especially within a digital context. Essentially, the images we’re seeing serve as our evidence, and this is not only true in regards to what we’re confronting, but what we’re seeing and feeling as the whole world presently.

The exhibition as a whole aims to bring together collective feelings and memories of the future in the moment, serving as an archive itself. When we think of the afterlife of the exhibition, we want to be able to look back at and reflect on how things were being seen and interpreted, and how they informed our daily lives.

For the longest time, we weren't sure if we were going forward with this exhibition, we weren't sure if it was the right thing to do. In a way, we wanted to present the past as the future, and together with the present, they are our anchors of alternative futures, writing our story through our daydreams and fantasies.

N.M.: The word meme is actually short for memetics. So in a way, even the memes that we're sharing are like archives. So the whole notion of archives has been completely deconstructed because they're a lot more accessible. 

Z.H.: Again, referring to Rami's work, he gathers captions such as “headlines of the day” complementing his images, to reflect the overconsumption of information and the daily experience of scrolling through social media feeds.

S.B.S.: He really captures the excess of information by compiling texts from a lot of different sources, without differentiating between good or bad news. The constant influx of the images and headlines that shape our perceptions of the world are brought up, but some moments of hope are also weaved amidst the chaos.

N.M: Going back to the theme of the “manipulation of memory,” I found this to be particularly evident in Ahmad Makia’s works, where he delves into this theme through the presentation of censorship and control of the narrative. Can you talk a little more about his work, and how other artists approached our collective understanding of memory?

S.B.S.: Where Makia’s work emphasizes the preservation of oral storytelling, Ali Eyal intentionally creates confusion in his paintings, challenging traditional notions of memory and reclaiming agency over personal narratives.

Z.H.: To add to that, Makia's work highlights the struggle to preserve memories under harsh conditions, emphasizing the importance of oral documentation in preserving our stories within an environment of censorship and concealment. Ali's work reflects the tension between remembered and forgotten memories, and encourages viewers to question their reliance on the past.

5. Ahmad Makia, Sumer: Self-publishing in Abu Ghraib Prison, 2023. Cardboard box, loose sheets, yarn, ziploc bag. Image courtesy of the curators.

N.M: How do you see the manipulation of memory occurring in the current information-sharing environment, as depicted in Juline's work and others in your exhibition?

Z.H.: Juline's work presents a sound piece combining live CCTV recordings from Gaza, snippets from the film Jenin, Jenin (2002), and other recordings, as well as sound recordings from outside Bayt Al Mamzar when she visited during install.

Accompanying the sound piece is a crystal block, almost satirically, because usually those are associated with souvenirs and beautiful images that bring you back to a pleasant memory. I think she chose this specific image as it's a tough image to see. The image is in a glass box, it’s as though she’s crystalising the occupation wall and presenting it as transparent as you can see it. Sometimes when you’re looking at it from an angle you can barely see the image. Not to say that the image is not clear, but rather that there are alternatives and fragments on how to see it. The image is, no matter what, is crystal clear.  At one point, Juline thought about breaking the crystal - in Arabic, we have this saying that goes “انكسار الشهر”. When something breaks, you express that the evil has been broken. In a way she wanted to break it on her own, to manipulate that memory and that history and break the evil herself rather than relying on history or chance to do so.

I see a shift, I see artists and people around me whose approach is as such:, ‘This is how we want to do it.’ It can be fantastical, it can be imaginative, it can be delusional, it can be manipulative. It can be a forgotten memory or remembered memory or no memory at all. But in a way it's saying ‘I'm doing it and I'm doing it in my own way.’ More doing that saying. It’s time.

6. Juline Hadaya, The map is not the territory, 2024. Crystal block sculpture, sound collage. Installation views. “Crystal Clear”, curated by Salasil Studio at Bayt Al Mamzar, Dubai. 3 February - 11 May, 2024. Images courtesy of the curators.

S.B.S.: The manipulation of memory occurs on multiple levels, from state-controlled narratives to personal experiences. Artists like Juline and Ali challenge traditional narratives and create alternative interpretations of history. They also encourage viewers to reconsider their understanding of memory and question the systems that shape it.

N.M: The use of the word "delusional" in the curatorial statement caught my attention. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you asked the artists to lean into delusion from which they can present these imagined futures, like taking away the kind of helpless context that comes with what's happening.

Z.H.: We want to encourage artists to embrace delusions and mythicism as a way of imagining alternative possibilities. We chose Crystal Clear as the title as our own manifestation of the future, as much as we can be delusional and fantastical, what we want is clear. Even though it may be contradictory to present dreams and mythical thinking within the context of clarity, these delusions allow us to challenge the status quo and envision a different reality.

We want to encourage artists to embrace delusions and mythicism as a way of imagining alternative possibilities.

- Zainab Hasoon

S.B.S.: Delusions enable us to embrace our wildest dreams and imagine alternative futures, even if they may seem unrealistic. It's about stepping out of reality to envision a different world and finding hope in the midst of uncertainty. Sara Bokr’s architectural project, which presents a material fabrication school in Gaza shows us how she would like to hope and to imagine.

Z.H.: I would like to add that Sara created this project in 2019. It’s important to note this, as I believe we shouldn’t only act when we're in a state of urgency, where we need to respond to the world. This sets the tone of how we approached this exhibition, not as a response to the ongoing state of things, but as a way of living…as a daily duty.

N.M: I want to read this quote that I found the other day, that I think really relates to the underlying message of Crystal Clear.

– I think that it's empowering the way in which you guys kind of reclaimed this idea of fantasy and fiction and allowed a space for Palestinian and other Arab artists, to, as we said, not just present documentary style of art, but rather fantasize.

Z.H.: Yeah, and really an alternative way of imagining experimentation as an alternative method itself.

In Crystal Clear, you see the different mediums that we've presented and brought together and the way different artists have really thought about their respective thematics. There are some works that we commissioned for the exhibition, and then there are some previous works that have been adapted specifically for the exhibition.

We mention aesthetics, and the beauty of the works. I don't really like to bring nationality or identity politics into the things that we do, but just to specify, we're constantly expected to perform, for example as you mentioned, documentary style. It’s a very narrow way of how we're seen and how we're expected to perform and participate in this world. And I think with this exhibition, you see a different way. You see that alternative.

Delusions enable us to embrace our wildest dreams and imagine alternative futures, even if they may seem unrealistic.

Even with Amad Ansari’s work, for example, he's archiving these websites that he found on the Wayback Machine, and they’re websites from different Palestinian initiatives, or even home pages of Palestinians. So you would see someone's homepage, and it's quite personal, and it's fun, and it's a completely different world. And even though it's from the past, it's very dreamy, and very, in a way, also delusional. And then you see the Gaza International Airport, and then you see Salma Halabi’s page, and you see her artworks, and it's just, not something that’s expected from us.

7. Amad Ansari, Palestine Online, 2023. Image courtesy of the curators. Installation view at “Crystal Clear”, curated by Salasil Studio at Bayt Al Mamzar, Dubai. 3 February - 11 May, 2024. Image courtesy of the curators.

And that's why we really tried to stay away from the past. This idea of romanticizing and kind of being nostalgic towards it. We are tired of that. If we want to use the past, we want to use the knowledge and the wisdom and the resources that we've had to inform our future and use these resources to manipulate our ways of experimentation, and document our existence.

N.M: Could you elaborate on how artists reworked their pieces according to "active confrontations" beyond the immediate context of the exhibition's opening date?

S.B.S.: I would like to bring up Haneen Sidahmed’s work, which was actually created during the December 2019 Revolution. She used archive material from South Sudan TV during that era, as well as old Sudanese liberation music.

This piece could have been made now for the current situation, and so she highlighted this echoed yearning and longing for a free world and a free Sudan. So despite it being an older work, it was still able to be contextualized for the present day, as well.

N.M: There's this quote by Shumon Basar that says “institutional collections are meant to represent eras as equally as they can, while personal collections reveal the character of the collector.” So I wanted to ask you - how did your personal character influence the curation of the exhibition?

Z.H.: A friend of ours, Salem Al Suwaidi, was one of the first people to see the exhibition’s final form a few hours before the opening. He walked in and said, “This is Z's conversation with Sara, and Sara and Z's minds together, in physical form.”

Even though we're asking, as curators, artists to think and imagine the future, I think we add our own input. We are very specific with the language that we use, the wordings of the exhibition, you know. We have a lot of conversations that surround the topics we introduce – we really wanted to approach this with honesty, openness, and a lot of care and clarity.

Art making and exhibition making is an ongoing conversation between you and others, and it's important to show those overlaps. I think that your character and your personality, and the way you see things should be incorporated in the way that you deal with others.

I mentioned care, because it's something that might be weird to say: “I care”, it's weird to say it out loud, because you feel like it's kind of by default, right? But I think it's the lack of it that makes us really say it. There is a lack, and we are careful and intentional in the way that we do things. Our active contributions and confrontations of the world that we live in.

I think that while it is important for us to imagine this beautiful, aesthetically pleasing exhibition, it’s also really important to think about what is happening. There is an ongoing genocide in front of our eyes and we have to say something about it. To go back to your earlier question about active confrontation - Mohammad al Faraj depicts that in a very beautiful way where he uses different trees, such as palm tree, pomegranate tree, fig tree and olive tree, stating that they are witnesses.. We talk a lot about language and the way that we use language, he contributed to that thinking.

He talks about trees as being witnesses. So you know, a witness in Arabic is شاهد and martyr is شهيد, which is derived from the same word. This question arises, if trees were able to say something, what would they have to say?

If trees were able to say something, what would they have to say?

8. Mohammad Farraj, Oh pomegranate of my heart, Oh olive tree of my heart, Oh palm tree of my heart, Oh fig tree of my heart, 2024. Charcoal, natural and unnatural colors, cotton paper. Image courtesy of the artist and curators.

N: The show presented a very diverse array of lenses through which to observe what's happening, and in a very personal way. Did you, however, notice any one particular sentiment or consensus that was shared amongst all of them?

Z.H.: I think that's what brought this exhibition together, ultimately, is this idea that we are all contributing to this collective memory. All the artists in this exhibition actively do that in their practice. The artists take ownership of who they are, and leave any identity politics aside, and any labels that we’re constantly being fed or expected to champion. This is not to say to deny where they come from, but to embrace it in a more imaginative way.

We're not here to talk about dismantling or decolonizing, because that work has been done. That's why it's not mentioned anywhere within our text, as this is our way of being – not necessarily subversive – but our way to underline that these conversations have been had, so really: what's the point of going back and having them again? We're saying “this is the reality, our reality, this is what we're doing, this is what we're hoping for the future.” It's really simple as that, you know.

We're not here to talk about dismantling or decolonizing, because that work has been done.

N.M: To purely focus on the progressive.

Z.H.: Exactly, the progressive as an ongoing development, rather than just a theorization. And we must be the ones to actually put forth the work.

S.B.S.: There was a moment when we were not going to put on the exhibition, after October. We were prepared to stop everything and allow for things that are more important to take the center stage. And then there was a conversation that Z and I were having, which we came back to - a question that kept coming up: “what is the real importance of our work? What is it to be creative in this world, and in this time right now? What is it actually giving value to?” We ultimately reached the conclusion that the exhibition wasn’t just important for us, or for the artists to showcase our approaches, but also for the visitors. For example, showing and acting through care is very progressive in our time. Which is why I love Ghad AlMajid’s red cats, B4B, tumbling together to emphasize how we should nurture empathy, care and love. As well as in Mohammed Tatour’s work where he imagines a new flag and places embracing kittens in the middle, centering how we all hold a universal longing for security, understanding, and the pursuit of dreams.
9. Ghad AlMajid, B4B. Installation views at “Crystal Clear”, curated by Salasil Studio at Bayt Al Mamzar, Dubai. 3 February - 11 May, 2024. Image courtesy of the curators.

N.M: Finally, what are your aspirations for Studio Salasil, or this exhibitionas a whole moving forward?

Z.H.: Throughout this process, our first exhibition together under Studio Salasil, we introduced our library, which we’re hoping to expand. We have a lot of material that we sourced throughout the years - material that we reference and use in our practice. We want to share that with the world, as well as our artists’ friends, books. We have a particular book by Sundus Abdulhadi, for example, who is an artist, curator, a thinker and a writer. And she really emphasizes this idea of care, care and practice, and care and work and resistance, care as a mechanism to liberation – which we referenced throughout.

I think it's also important to share our references. Hopefully, we can find a studio or library space in the future where we can host our current and future books.

We’re also doing programming around the show and after. We're hoping to invite Amad Ansari for a workshop to walk us through the different channels and websites that we've curated together.

After May 11, we're not going to be at Bayt al Mamzar anymore – so we're trying to find the space that can occupy us and that we can occupy in return.

Crystal Clear is on view at Bayt Al Mamzar until May 11, 2024. DM Bayt Al Mamzar or Studio Salasil for bookings. 

Curated by Studio Salasil, Zainab Hasoon and Sara bin Safwan. The participating artists are Mohammad Al Faraj, Ghad AlMajid, Dima Srouji, Ali Eyal, Amad Ansari, Sara Bokr, Rami Farook, Ahmad Makia, Miramar Al Nayyar, Juline Hadaya, Amna Elhassan, Haneen Sidahmed, Mohammed Tatour, and Rand Abdul Jabbar.

Exhibition branding and graphic designs by Becem Sdiri (@becemsdiri). All exhibition images, courtesy of the curator.

studio salasil is a future-focusing curatorial studio tending to care, research and experimentation, founded by Sara bin Safwan and Zainab Hasoon. Through these principles, we develop exhibitions, publications, programs, mentorship and artwork that reimagine narratives, senses and experiences. We invite collaboration and conversation as we explore the multidisciplinary nature of creative work to reveal the infinite possibilities of exhibition-making and artwork creation. Highlighting the relationship between curators, artists and the audience, our aim is to encourage risk, disruption and imagination.

Sara bin Safwan is a curator working in both institutional and grassroot levels. She has worked for Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and founded Banat Collective. She recieved a Master of Arts in Postcolonial Culture and Global Policy at Goldsmiths University, London (2023). Her research and practice explores politics of memory, speculation, futurisms and built environments with a focus on contemporary art from West Asia and North Africa, particularly the Gulf. Sara has recently co-curated As We Gaze Upon Her, Abu Dhabi and was the guest curator for the Homebound Residency, both at Warehouse421, Abu Dhabi.

Zainab Hasoon is a multidisciplinary artist and independent curator based between Dubai and Baghdad. Her practice centres around the multifunctionality of space, archival and found material and experiments in film, art, fashion, jewellery and sound. Zainab is the Founder and Creative Director of kenz and works at Shabab Intl. Recently founded music platform 7aflet, Zainab continues to curate using different spaces, mediums and hosting underground music experiences.

Nada Meshal is a writer, a storyteller, and a multi-disciplinary creative currently based in Dubai, with a passion for exploring, analyzing, and capturing the zeitgeist through a visual lens. She works across multiple mediums including print, video, sound, and editorial to express a narrative, and poetically traverse through different sentiments. She has worked on artistic direction and styling on several collaborative projects in Montreal, Amman, and most recently Dubai; with examples ranging from editorial to sound and video production.