Today: Audio from Art Week Dubai 2016. Once a year the Emirate of Dubai in the UAE becomes saturated with exhibitions, art fairs and arts conferences. Fari speaks to Yasmina Reggad, a French curator, writer and researcher whose work during the week managed spanned the fair Art Dubai, Al Serkal Avenue – the largest home grown programme in Dubai, built around the gallery district of Dubai, and the global art forum a series of talks, presentations and performances that takes please inside the art fair as its own entity.
In the interview we discuss in depth the performance by Yasmina Reggad at the Global Art Forum that broke into the speech-heavy format with a piece of music by Philip Glass, Symphony No. 5 – part 9: and a Syrian dancer who distorted her body according to the images of Christian escatology that Yasmina had been studying at Goldsmiths University, London during her residency there.
We also discuss the show curated by Yasmina at Gallery Isabelle Van DEn Eynde in Al Serkal, by a French artist of Algerian origin Abdelkader Benchamma “The Unbearable Likeness” which seeks to address the inflammatory and elusive nature of rumours. The exhibition does this by focussing on a point in history when in 1940’s LA The Battle of L.A, took place, named after ‘The Great Los Angeles Air Raid’. The city, the nation, after sightings in the sky, was awash with both word of mouth and media-news rumours of an enemy attack and of ufology, with the press fanning the fire by altering photographic images for print. It is only fitting then that the show’s main material manifestation is card and paper, with the space transformed into somewhat of a theatre set; torn facades give platform to framed prints and paper works featuring trace smudgings and fractured designs of both interstellar and geological imagery. How does one trace the movement and impact of something as ephemeral as a rumour? Through the viewer’s own imagination of course. More on the show below.
Text from Glass’s Death:
Repeats “My friends will become nothing, my foes will become nothing and I too shall become nothing.”
The symphony was commissioned and conceived as a millennium celebration work for the Salzburg Festival. My plan has been for the symphony to represent a broad spectrum of many of the world’s great “wisdom” traditions. Working together with the Very Reverend James Parks Morton of the Interfaith Center of New York and Professor Kusumita P. Pedersen of St. Francis College, we synthesized a vocal text that begins before the world’s creation, passes through earthly life and paradise, and closes with a future dedication. We are looking at the moment of the millennium as a bridge between the past (represented by the “Requiem” and embodying the first nine movements up to the moment of Death) the present (the “Bardo” representing the “in between”) and culminating in “Nirmanakaya” (rebirth as manifestation of enlightened activity). We have elected to present the original texts (Greek, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and indigenous languages) in one language, English, to show the commonalities with which all these traditions resonate. For a work of this scale it seemed fitting to add chorus, children’s choir and soloists to the usual symphonic ensemble, thereby giving it ample breadth and dramatic capability.
Besides being a compendium of reflection on the process of global transformation and evolution, it is hoped that the work will serve as a strong and positive celebration of the millennium year.
— Philip Glass
For the show at Isabelle Van Den Eynde, French-Algerian artist Abdelkader Benchamma’s second solo show at the gallery presents works on paper and sculptural installations, which use the gallery space as a stage to develop new demonstrations and theories. While Benchamma’s Blue Beam Project from his 2013 show at the gallery meticulously studied the conspiracy theories of a NASA satellite project and the construction of social projections and popular knowledge, The Unbearable Likeness draws on this research to address one of the key elements in the formation of the collective unconscious: the rumour.
While the state and secret agencies were plotting in the dark in the Blue Beam Project, in this exhibition the human mind becomes the protagonist and individuals witness events as reported accounts are passed through the word of mouth. Actions, time and places are distorted to give birth to multiple narratives that the artist has been collecting with a predilection for fantastical and extraordinary apparitions or visions. Benchamma builds on our abilities to perceive the world the way we do and highlights the unprecedented phenomena that ultimately either sheds light on grey areas or opens new territories in scientific theory.
The artist explores the ways in which irrational and contagious rumours are transmitted and deconstructs the process of proving the accuracy of the events. Nevertheless, with continuous circulation of communication, these events are drawn, printed, filmed or photographed to fit the intentions of the rumourmongers, which is to ultimately convince the people. In several works, Benchamma questions the ontologies of the imagery to illustrate or prove that the extraordinary event did in fact take place. He highlights the direct relationship between the very nature of the reproducibility of images, the manual or mechanical techniques to alter them, and the multiplicity of reported and transmitted stories that they generate.
Visit sixpillars.org for more information. [Repeated Friday 3.30pm GMT.]
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