Alserkal Programming appoints Hale Tenger and Mari Spirito for new commission

26 March 2018

The public intervention, titled Under, will be on display from 19 March – May 2018


Alserkal Programming has commissioned Hale Tenger to create a public intervention guest curated by Mari Spirito. This, the 18th commission by Alserkal Programming in three years, is the first time that the arts organisation has worked with a guest curator. The commission, titled Under, 2018, is due to be launched on 19 March 2018 in The Yard at Alserkal Avenue during Dubai Art Week. The installation, Under, 2018 is a look at learned behaviour, on intimate and expanded levels.

Alserkal Programming was founded by Emirati philanthropist Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal in 2015 with a mandate to support artists whose projects are collaborative, participatory, and ephemeral. Commenting on Alserkal Programming’s latest commission, Abdelmonem said, “The core of Alserkal Programming’s ethos is to bring the richness and diversity of contemporary art from the region to the global stage, so that we can build cultural bridges within the region and from the region to the world.”

The form of Hale Tenger’s work follows the material vernacular of Alserkal Avenue’s existing buildings as a free-standing structure that visitors are invited to enter. Under, 2018 originates from the artist’s memory of a fictional narrative that describes an ancient hunting ploy used by aristocrats. Nets were set in the woods much earlier than the hunting date, stretching low throughout the forest so that the birds became accustomed to living under the net, adapting by only flying low. Once the nets were removed the birds would no longer fly high, as if they had forgotten that the sky has no limits, thus becoming easy prey for the noble hunting parties. Currently, tens of millions of game birds are being bred at farms set in nature with nets, creating the same effects on these birds today, for bird hunting markets.

The physical and psychological experience of Hale Tenger’s installation touches on many aspects of human behaviour and systems of control, social as well as civic. This work expresses a feeling that is shared from Tenger’s home in Istanbul, to its site in Dubai, as well as across global contemporary societies. Spirito proposes “In order to re-align and/or change, the act of recognition, even the smallest shift in perspective, needs to take place. Hale Tenger asks, “How have we adapted to the conditions of our time?” and “If birds can forget to fly high in the sky, what have we humans forgotten?”

Tenger is an Istanbul-based, multi-disciplinary artist, who most recently showed Balloons on the Sea, 2011, at the 57th Venice Biennale. Under, 2018 is her first major commission in the UAE and her first outdoor intervention in almost a decade. Mari Spirito is Founder and Curator of Protocinema, a non-profit organisation based between Istanbul and New York.

“Public interventions such as Under, 2018, not only spark critical dialogue, but they serve as a stepping stone in evolutionary thinking. it was a natural progression to open up our programme for established and respected curators from this region, such as Mari Spirito, considering her experience in curating site-aware installations globally, and her work with not-for-profit initiatives” says Vilma Jurkute, Director of Alserkal Avenue, elaborating on the decision to work with a guest curator.

Under, 2018 will be on show from 19 March - 31 May 2018 in The Yard, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Dubai Art Week takes place from 21-24 March 2018.

Image: Hale Tenger, Under, 2018, work in-progress. Photo courtesy Green Art Gallery, Dubai, Galeri Nev, Istanbul and Alserkal Programming, Dubai.

Editor’s Notes

About Alserkal Programming
Established by Alserkal Avenue in 2015, Alserkal Programming is a platform for exhibitions, public art commissions, performances, films, talks and workshops that critically and creatively investigate themes pertinent to the region's arts community. Together, these programmes provide a platform to support the development of new ideas, open dialogue and collaboration across disciplines. With a view to working primarily with artists living and working in the MENASA region, Alserkal Programming has a mandate to support artists whose projects are collaborative, participatory, and ephemeral.

About Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal

Founder of Alserkal Avenue, Alserkal Programming and Alserkal Residency, and patron of the arts

Abdelmonem is the driving force behind Alserkal Avenue, a cultural destination that houses the most prominent contemporary art galleries in the region. In 2015, he launched Alserkal Programming, the not-for-profit arm of Alserkal Avenue, which supports locally-based and international artists through commissions and public programmes. As a natural extension of the programming arm, Abdelmonem established Alserkal Residency in early 2017. The Residency is designed to give artists, writers, curators, and researchers the opportunity to critically reflect on and experiment with their practice within the context of Dubai.

Concrete opened in Alserkal Avenue in 2017, commissioned by Abdelmonem Alserkal and designed to be a space for alternative programmes and museum-grade exhibitions. Concrete is the first building to be completed in the UAE by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), which was founded by Pritzker Prize-winner Rem Koolhaas.

Featured in Surface magazine's 2016 Power 100, Abdelmonem serves on numerous boards of prestigious art institutions around the world, including the British Museum's Contemporary and Modern Middle Eastern Art Acquisition Group; the Tate's Middle East and North Africa Acquisition Committee; and the Guggenheim's Middle Eastern Circle. Abdelmonem and the Alserkal family have long been supporters of the arts and have been awarded the Patron of the Arts award twice, in 2012 and 2013, by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

About Hale Tenger
Based in Istanbul, Hale Tenger has exhibited extensively around the world since the early 1990s. Besides her large-scale installations and single or multi-channel video works, photographic prints and sculptures are also part of her practice. Selected solo exhibitions include: We didn't go outside; we were always on the outside/ We didn’t go inside; we were always on the inside, Protocinema, NY (2015); Swinging on the Stars, Galeri Nev, Istanbul (2013); Perspectives: Beirut, Smithsonian Institute, Washington (2011); Balloons on the Sea, Green Art Gallery, Dubai (2011); Never Never Land, Mannheimer Kuntsverein, Mannheim (2001); and The Closet, ArtPace, San Antonio, Texas (1997). She has participated in numerous biennials including: Viva Arte Viva, 57th Venice Biennale (2017), Haifa Mediterranean (2010), Havana (2003), Kwangju (2000), Johannesburg (1998), Manifesta (1996), São Paulo (1994), Istanbul (1992 and 1995). Her work has been featured in institutions including: Centre Pompidou, Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton, Paris; Istanbul Modern, ARTER, SALT, Istanbul; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Neuer Berliner Kunsverein, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin; Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna; Palais des Beaux Arts de Lille; Carré d’Art Museum, Nimes; Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Art Gallery of Western Australia; The New Museum, New York.

About Mari Spirito
Mari Spirito is Founding Director and Curator of Protocinema, realizing site-aware
exhibitions in the world, since 2011. Spirito has programmed Art Basel Conversations since 2014, and is Associate Curator of Visual Arts, Onassis Cultural Center, New York and Athens. She launched Alt Art Space, Istanbul, and was its Curator and Director from 2015 to 2017; served as an Advisor to the 2nd Mardin Biennial, Turkey, 2012; and was Director of 303 Gallery New York, 2000–2012. She is President of the Board of Participant, Inc, New York and holds a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art, Boston.