Jameel Arts Centre Dubai’s contemporary art institution, announces today further details of its Autumn/Winter 2019 programming, including: ‘Phantom Limb’, a powerful exhibition of work by 13 artists concerned with our material heritage; the Middle Eastern debut of The Library of Unread Books, an evolving, peripatetic and crowd-sourced common; a solo show by Sarah Abu Abdullah that questions the formation and presentation of identity; a new, large-scale commissioned work by Prabhakar Pachpute; and site-specific outdoor installations set within the Centre’s gardens and the adjacent Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park, plus workshops, talks, research and other public programming.
On view from October 10, 2019 to February 15, 2020, ‘Phantom Limb’ brings together 13 artists and collectives who, through a diverse range of practices, interrogate our lived relationships to material heritage. The works in the show pose pressing questions around the writing of history, the weaponisation of heritage and the construction of myths that is embedded within material culture, from the circulation of artefacts to the destruction of architectural spaces. These issues are especially charged in the Middle East, where layered realities of colonialisation, war, competing claims of cultural dominance and rapid economic development have made this discourse even more potent.
Whether through sculpture, installation, video, photography or 3D rendering, the objects and sites explored in this exhibition are never fully realised, rather they are evoked, imagined, and referenced -- haunting the exhibition as ghosts. The exhibition’s title ‘Phantom Limb’ refers to the painful condition when the body refuses to acknowledge the loss of its part, usually the result of violent injury or amputation. This visceral haunting in the presence of something that was forcibly removed in the past echoes many of the concerns of the artists presented in the exhibition. Material heritage has long-served as the site of competing claims to historical narratives, onto which national and ethnic identities are projected. Recent years have seen an acceleration in the purposeful demolition of buildings, monuments and ways of life that are of global historical importance. At the same time, debates on the restitution of cultural artefacts have accelerated out of the confines of the museum into the political zeitgeist, becoming ever more insistent. At the heart of the exhibition is the drive to reclaim lost histories not only through documentation and archiving, but also through speculation and imagination.
‘Phantom Limb’ features works commissioned for this exhibition by Rand Abdul Jabbar, Ali Cherri, Decolonizing Architecture and Benji Boyadgian as well as existing works by Akram Zaatari, Jumana Manna, Pio Abad and Frances Wadsworth Jones, Kader Attia, Théo Mercier, Rayyane Tabet and Khalil Rabah. The exhibition also includes Maps of Defiance, an extensive installation of visual materials, annotated maps, 3D models, and data analysis by research agency Forensic Architecture co-produced by Art Jameel and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A). The installation demonstrates how innovative methods of digital design and image capture can enable cultural heritage advocacy, while at the same time preserving the memory of destruction before it is itself erased through post-war reconstruction. ‘Phantom Limb’ is curated and produced by Art Jameel, and is accompanied by a rich programme of talks, workshops, films and events for all ages.
The Library of Unread Books
Comprised of donations already submitted by readers across the UAE, The Library of Unread Books makes its Middle East debut in the Jameel’s Lobby from November 16, 2019, to January 31, 2020. A living reference library comprised of books that were unread by previous owners, the installation is available for the community to browse. Initiated by Singapore-based practitioners Heman Chong and Renée Staal, The Library of Unread Books’ global edition is currently comprised of nearly 700 donated books. The Library is the result of a collective gesture; viewed as a whole, these books reflect on notions of access, excess and the politics of redistribution. Visitors to Jameel Arts Centre are invited to browse and read – and continually gift their unread books -- throughout the run of the installation.
Prabhakar Pachpute, one of the most prominent and critically acclaimed Indian artists of his generation, brings his latest project to Jameel Arts Centre’s Artist’s Rooms from September 21, 2019 to February 15, 2020. Building on his ongoing body of work Sea of Fists, the show represents a powerful interpretation of the art of protest, exploring the diverse actions and realities of communities in struggle across India. Over recent years, India has witnessed continual protest movements in which farmers have been using their bodies in performative gestures, including silent marches in Nashik, standing with defiance in lakes in Karnataka and even burying themselves in pits to protest forced land acquisitions in Rajasthan. Pachpute’s large-scale, site-specific installation incorporates murals executed directly onto the gallery walls, plywood cutouts and sculptural elements.
Sarah Abu Abdallah: For the first time in a long time
Working across video, painting, text and installation, Abu Abdallah’s work is an intimate and personal reflection on contemporary modes of existence, both online and offline, particularly in the Gulf. Influenced by the constant flow of imagery and fabrication of personas online, the architecture of domestic space, and pop culture in the Gulf, the exhibition describes a contemporary search for self and belonging. Abu Abdallah questions how we can navigate public and private spaces while negotiating frameworks for each — with an insight that is influenced by, but not limited to, her experience as a female artist in Saudi society.
The exhibition combines existing video works with new commissions including a large-scale painting on textile as well as an installation of living plants; it is a co-production between Jameel Arts Centre and the Kunstverein Hamburg, where the exhibition began in August 2019. Writing is central to Abu Abdallah’s practice and forms the core of a new book, co-published by Art Jameel, Kaph Books and the Kunstverein Hamburg.
Digital Earth Talks
A collaboration between Jameel Arts Centre and Digital Earth, a global research network of artists and scholars exploring technology’s relationship to geopolitics in the 21st century, Digital Earth Talks takes place November 7-8, 2019. The free, open event brings together artists, scholars and designers from Africa, Europe and Asia to explore how our conception of technology and its uses are shaping both geopolitical and interpersonal relationships. The term Digital Earth references the conceptual ‘digital twin’ to Planet Earth, comprised of algorithmic regimes generating, tracking and accumulating the data currently engulfing, shaping, exploiting and regulating the movement of goods and people around the world.
Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park, adjacent to the Jameel and developed in partnership with Dubai Holding as the UAE’s first arts-themed park, will be the site of a major installation by Hassan Khan, Composition for a Public Park, from the Art Jameel Collection. A previous iteration was shown at the 57th Venice Biennial, where it won the Silver Lion; unfolding in three simultaneous movements across the Park, this edition of Khan’s multi-channel piece includes a spoken libretto recorded by male and female actors in Arabic, Urdu and English. Opening November 3, 2019, and running through June 8, 2020, the work will be freely accessible for all to experience, day and night.
Jameel Arts Centre is intentionally designed with courtyard gardens interspersing the galleries, creating a dialogue between art and the natural world. In Winter 2019, the Artist’s Garden will feature a commission by Asunción Molinos Gordo. Concerned with ideas of interconnectivity, mobility and cohabitation, her installation In Transit: Botany of a Journey is described as a garden created from the seeds ingested by Dubai’s diverse population. A research-based artist who is strongly influenced by disciplines such as anthropology, sociology and cultural studies, Molinos Gordo imagines remnants of the city’s diverse international culinary habits making their way from the plate to the city’s central sanitation plant. The work challenges romantic concepts of nature, while embodying the interconnected reality of the human condition.
Ongoing Exhibitions and Installations
Visitors to the Jameel in the Autumn have a final opportunity to view several ongoing exhibitions and installations. ‘Second Hand’, an exhibition exploring divergent takes on materiality, remains on view through November 23, 2019. Featuring works by 18 artists and collectives from the Art Jameel Collection, the exhibition includes commissions, performances, workshops, talks and film screenings. Exemplifying the Centre’s integration of art and natural spaces, the Artist’s Garden installation by Shaikha Al Mazrou, titled Green house: Interior yet Exterior, Manmade yet Natural, is on view through late November.
Upcoming Highlight: Michael Rakowitz
A major survey of work by the renowned Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz will be at the Jameel Arts Centre next spring, marking his first solo exhibition in Asia and the Middle East. Organised by Whitechapel Gallery and Castello di Rivoli in collaboration with Art Jameel, and curated by Iwona Blazwick and Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, with Habda Rashid, Marianna Vecellio, and Nora Razian, the self-titled exhibition includes Rakowitz’s most significant projects across two decades. The featured multifaceted installations draw on architecture, cultural artefacts, cuisine and geopolitics from 750BC to today; in Dubai, the exhibition will be accompanied by a bilingual (Arabic-English) catalogue and broad and compelling public programme for all ages. The work debuts at Jameel Arts Centre from March 12 to August 30, 2020, following exhibitions at the Whitechapel Gallery and Castello di Rivoli.
Through September, the film programme in the Jameel’s Gallery 9 is curated in conjunction with the exhibition ‘Second Hand’ and explores materiality in artist’s film practices. The selection includes animation, text-based web practices and documentary, and features films by Liliana Porter, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, Munem Wasif, Prabhakar Pachpute and U-ra-mi-li Project.
The Jameel’s ongoing public programme includes artist-led workshops geared towards families and teens, curator-led tours, reading groups and discussions. The Jameel’s monthly Library Circles presents research, presentations and experimental exhibitions by UAE-based practitioners. The Autumn 2019 iteration kicks off with research display by Reem Khorshid focused on tracking the import and export of infrastructure and institutional models between Egypt and the Gulf, reading state-relationships and socio-political histories. The following iterations present research by Nathalie Peutz focussing on the history of and ecological, linguistic and cultural conservation efforts protecting Yemen’s Socotra archipelago, a UNESCO natural World Heritage Site, and a detailed survey of the history of comics in the Arab world by David Hirsch, from satirical magazines to the development of ComicCon or Manga festivals in the region. Related talks take place on September 25, December 4, 2019 and January 29, 2020.
Art Jameel Commissions is an annual programme anchored at Jameel Arts Centre that runs in a 3-year cycle, focusing on sculpture (2018); arts writing and research (2019); and drawing and painting (2020). The Call to artists for Art Jameel Commissions: Drawing and Painting will be announced shortly.
Entrance to Jameel Arts Centre is free and open to all, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00am to 8:00pm as well as Friday from 12:00pm to 10:00pm. The Jameel is closed on Tuesdays.
Select Autumn 2019 schedule includes:
September 21 – Artist’s Rooms: Meet Prabhakar Pachpute over a brunchtime opening at 11am
September 21-February 15, 2020 – Artist’s Rooms: Prabhakar Pachpute
September 25 - Library Circles: Talk with Reem Khorshid
September 2-30 – Film programme curated in conjunction with the exhibition ‘Second Hand’
October 10-February 15, 2020 – ‘Phantom Limb’ group exhibition exploring material heritage
November 2-June 8, 2020 – Composition for a Public Park by Hassan Khan
November 7-8 – Digital Earth Talks
November 16 – Exhibition: ‘Library of Unread Books’, initiated by Heman Chong and Renée Staal
December 4 – Library Circles: Talk with Nathalie Peutz
December 18-April 11, 2020 – Exhibition: ‘For the first time in a long time’ by Sarah Abu Abdallah
January 29, 2020 – Library Circles: Talk with David Hirsch
Artist’s Garden: Asunción Molinos Gordo
Call to Artists for Art Jameel Commissions: Drawing and Painting (2020)
Ongoing Exhibitions include:
Now through September 14 – Jameel Prize 5 exhibition
Now through November 23 – ‘Second Hand’ exhibition featuring 18 artists and collectives
Now through November 30 – Artist’s Garden: Shaikha Al Mazrou
Image Courtesy: Supplied