September 22, 2021

Common Room Opens

September 22, 2021 | Part of Alserkal Lates, Alserkal Lates

Alserkal Arts Foundation launches Common Room, a centre for cultural practitioners and academic researchers.

Starts 6:00 PM

Ends 7:30 PM

Venue Alserkal Arts Foundation

Warehouse 50/51


Gather with us for an evening of informal presentations and candid discussions with artists and academic researchers from our community.

Athoub Albusaily

Nidhi Mahajan

May Al-Dabbagh

6:00PM | Athoub N. Al Busaily | Reshaping the Narrative of the Desert | Modern Excavations

This interdisciplinary research project aims to dismantle the idea of the desert as a “waste land”, inherently connected to a set of assumptions about the hostility of nature and the notion of survival. A cognitive bond with a place can occur when we personify it, giving it a meaning and understanding our position in relation to it. By listening to the landscape and studying its surfaces, we may curb the territory into a creature beyond those presumptions, focussing on documenting the intangible characteristics and cultural practices that can reshape our relationship to the environment.

Athoub N. Al Busaily is a Kuwaiti artist, researcher, and art historian currently living in Dubai. Her research investigates the notion of borders, hunting, and the desert environment of Kuwait, often underlined by a tone of irony and the use of visual metaphors. Her works have been exhibited both nationally and internationally including Warehouse421 (Abu Dhabi), The Hub Gallery (Kuwait City), Art Budapest (Budapest). She is currently pursuing an MA in Art History and Museum Studies at Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. Prior to that, she received her BA in Fine Arts from the University of Sharjah.

6:30PM | Nidhi Mahajan | Of Mobilities and Moorings: A View from the Dhow

The dhow has long been a symbol of transregionalism and even cosmopolitanism across the Indian Ocean. In the UAE, the dhow has also become synonymous with a pre-oil past. Yet dhows, especially from South Asia, continue to use UAE ports as hubs for trade across South Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa. Nidhi will share her on-going work on how the possibilities for both, mobility and fixity have made the UAE, especially Dubai, a “wasl” for transhipment, and trade across the Indian Ocean, especially connecting minor ports in times of conflict, dhows becoming “sinews of war and trade.”

Nidhi Mahajan is a cultural anthropologist who focuses on ​​political economy, sovereignty, and mobility in the Indian Ocean. She is currently working on a book project titled Moorings: The Dhow Trade, States and Capital Across the Indian Ocean. Based on over ten years of archival and ethnographic research, this ethnography focuses on encounters between dhows or wooden sailing vessels and multiple regulatory regimes across the Indian Ocean. Nidhi is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California-Santa Cruz and is the inaugural Fatima Mernissi Postdoctoral Fellow in Social and Cultural Studies at The Africa Institute, Sharjah. She has also developed multi-media exhibitions at the Fort Jesus Museum in Mombasa, Kenya; Khoj International Artists’ Association in New Delhi, and for the 2019 Sharjah Architecture Triennial. She has received fellowships from the ACLS/Mellon, Wenner Gren Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and was Mellon Sawyer Seminar Postdoctoral Fellow at Tufts University.

7:00PM | May Al-Dabbagh | The Body Archive

May will share some of her research and teaching on gender and globalization in the Gulf, including a new course, The Body Archive.

May Al-Dabbagh is an assistant professor at New York University Abu Dhabi and has an associated appointment as a global network assistant professor at New York University. She conducts research on gender and work in the Gulf using a combination of social psychology, public policy, and post-colonial feminist lenses. She has published in Organization Science, Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, and Idafat: Arab Journal of Sociology (in Arabic). Her current book project, The Messy Middle, is about serial migrants and their experiences of motherhood, work, and belonging in the context of an emergent global city. Her second project, Self Tracing, is a method that uses dialogical exchange and critical pedagogy to theorize intersectionalities in the global south. She has received fellowships from the Center of Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford), The Women and Public Policy Program (Harvard), and The Global Institute for Advanced Study and Tisch School of the Arts (NYU). She currently runs Haraka: Experimental Lab for Arab Art and Social Thought which is part of al Mawrid: Arab Center for the Study of Art at NYUAD. A graduate of Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (Saudi Arabia), she then received a BA (Harvard University) and a PhD (Oxford University) in psychology.