Commission
27 September 2022–31 August 2023

The Follower

27 September 2022–31 August 2023 | Part of Alserkal Art Week

What do you need to know in order to never be lost?

Starts 27 September 2022

Ends 31 August 2023

Venue Alserkal Avenue

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This season's public art project in Alserkal Avenue’s outdoor realm invites responses from artists represented by galleries at the Avenue and with a close relationship to the region. The series of site specific commissions appeared across the avenue from September 2022, launching with Meadow by Fahd Burki at the pedestrian entrance, the artist’s first public intervention, and Zenith by Ala’ Ebtekar, his largest public artwork to date. Passage by Sahand Hesamiyan has been added in November, with further works by additional artists to follow in 2023.

Inspired by these works, which invite us to pause and observe our surroundings more closely, the title of the project, The Follower, is a reference to the star Al Daberan that seems to follow Al Thuraya, the Pleiades. These are constellations of significance for astral navigation in our night sky as indicated by the fifteenth century master mariner of the Indian Ocean, Ahmad ibn Majid. If you are sensitive to your environment and know how to read the signs - the position of the sun and stars, the direction of the wind, the position of shadows and the forms of clouds, you know not just where you are, but also the exact time of day, or what weather to expect given the season. This implies that to locate yourself, you must not only trust your own instincts, but learn how to read signs from other sources—through research, observation, and from knowledge which may come from books of ancient or scientific wisdom, from your favourite grandmother, or simply directions from a fellow traveller or passer-by.

Part of Alserkal Arts Foundation’s public art commissions in 2022-2023, curated by Nada Raza and produced in collaboration with Alserkal Avenue galleries, Grey Noise and The Third Line, with special thanks to Kevin Jones.

Sunset

Fahd Burki

Sunset is a complex gradient transitioning from peachy orange to a deep blue following the colours of a dusty evening sky. Sandwiched between monotone architecture the image greets visitors with a flat spectrum of colour contrasting the corrugated, industrial grey of its surroundings.

Meadow

Fahd Burki

The introduction of a soft green gradient in a landscape dominated by dusty greys brings to mind the idea of an oasis. Meadow presents a plasticized emulation of such a space. Playing on ideas of illusion and flatness, the work meets the viewer in their physical space as solid green form and draws them to the illusion; a pasture, a field, with a fence marking the threshold just before the exit.

Zenith

Ala Ebtekar

Ala Ebtekar’s Zenith series is influenced by writings of the 11th-century Islamic philosopher Suhrawardi, who proposed a framework for understanding the universe based on properties of illumination and intuition. In Ebtekar’s rendering, the cyanotype process, in which an iron-red ferrous solution is exposed to UV light to produce vivid cyan, becomes an alchemical technique merging earthly matter and myth, painting and photographic methods. The works in Zenith were exposed at the sun’s zenith in the sky for a single day in each of the four seasons, connecting human and cosmic timescales.

Ebtekar’s Zenith works swirl with pirouetting clouds; overlying this pattern is a brilliant scattering of stellate inclusions, glimmering in a cosmic field of deep blue sky. The cloud openings create gateways and portals to the cosmos, and ourselves. These portals will span across the topography of Alserkal Avenue and activate the space at these sites.

Passage

Sahand Hesamiyan

For this site-specific commission, entitled Passage, Sahand Hesamiyan brings to light natural elements which are so often overlooked in contemporary life. Metaphorically referring to these elements through this poetic presentation, Hesamiyan encourages viewers to be reminded of their lost knowledge of the environment. In response to the surrounding elements, the rows of patterned and cut fabric acts as a filter for light and air, referencing the sky at different times of day. Moving with the wind and blocking the light, they create eye-catching starry silhouettes that dance on the ground, encouraging us to be more observant and appreciate beauty in the everyday; Passage is a voyage through light and wind.

Ala Ebtekar

Zenith

Installation shot by Ismail Noor / Seeing Things

Dubai, 2022

Ala Ebtekar

Zenith

Installation shot by Musthafa Aboobacker / Seeing Things

Dubai, 2022

Fahd Burki

Meadow

Installation shot by Ismail Noor / Seeing Things

Dubai, 2022

Fahd Burki

Meadow

Installation shot by Ismail Noor / Seeing Things

Dubai, 2022

Fahd Burki

Sunset

Installation shot by Ismail Noor / Seeing Things

Dubai, 2022

Sahand Hesamiyan

Passage

Installation shot by Musthafa Aboobacker / Seeing Things

Dubai, 2022

Sahand Hesamiyan

Passage

Installation shot by Musthafa Aboobacker / Seeing Things

Dubai, 2022

Biographies

Fahd Burki (b. 1981, Lahore, Pakistan / Lives and works in Lahore, Pakistan) graduated from the National College of Arts, Lahore in 2003 and received a Postgraduate Diploma from the Royal Academy of Arts, London in 2010.

Exhibitions : Daydreams, Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai, UAE / Wheredoiendandyoubegin - On Secularity, 9th Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art, Sweden – Curated by Nav Haq / SPRING1883, Sydney, Australia / Folds of Belonging, Brisbane, Australia – Curated by Tess Maunder / SOCIAL CALLIGRAPHIES, Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland – Curated by Magda Kardasz with Magdalena Komornicka / Gwangju Biennale 11, Gwangju, South Korea – Curated by Maria Lind / THE MISSING ONE, OCA, Oslo, Norway – Curated by Nada Raza / Dhaka Art Summit, Dhaka, Bangladesh / GALLERYSKE, Bangalore, India / Carré D’Art, Nîmes, France.

Ala Ebtekar (b. 1978 Berkeley, CA) is an artist who has situated his art practice as a relentless leveling, exploding, and collapsing of time and space to bring steadying attention to the contemporary moment.

His vast transnational background in studio practice, public and street art, has led to being the founder and director of Stanford University’s Art, Social Space and Public Discourse, an ongoing Stanford global initiative on art that investigates the multiple contexts that shift and define changing ideas of public space. This ongoing critical framework of conversations, newly commissioned art projects, and exploration of various cultural productions and intellectual traditions looks at recent transformations of civic life. Furthermore, he has more than a dozen public and civic art commissions, most recently produced by Facebook, SFO/San Francisco International Airport, and the Asian Art Museum.

Sahand Hesamiyan (b. 1977, Tehran, Iran) holds a Bachelor of Sculpture from the University of Tehran. The artist's versatile practice is informed by a profound understanding of construction techniques, culminating in larger-than-life metal sculptures and small elaborate works on paper. By creating interactive pieces that eclipse the mere repetition and reflection of these traditional forms, Hesamiyan is able to convey his acute technical abilities while taking inspiration from years of craftsmanship and historical concepts.

Embracing the close ties between geometry, mythology, and philosophy, Hesamiyan is focused on extracting traditional elements from these ancient sciences and adapting them for the present and future. His explorations often manifest in the form of complex sculptures, whether they be freestanding objects or multifaceted wall installations. As a master of designing structural systems, Hesamiyan reinterprets architecture and its elements in Persian architecture.