Full line-up announced for Art Week at Alserkal Avenue

20 February 2017

Highlights include Galleries Night, the inauguration of Concrete, artist commissions, talks, screenings and pop-up projects.


15 February 2017, Dubai, UAE: Alserkal Avenue will have a rich programme during this year’s Art Week from 9 - 18 March 2017, including new gallery exhibitions, four Alserkal Programming artist commissions, pop-up projects, a series of public talks and workshops, and the eagerly anticipated inauguration of Concrete with Syria: Into the Light, works from the Atassi Foundation collection.

Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, Patron and Founder of Alserkal Avenue comments: “Over the last decade, we’ve seen grassroots cultural exchange flourish into an arts community in Dubai; Alserkal Avenue has always been a home for risk takers and creative leaders who are shaping the narrative of the region.”

Art Week at Alserkal Avenue will kick off on 9 March with the opening of Syria: Into the Light, a show featuring more than 60 works by Syrian masters and emerging artists, from the collection of the Atassi Foundation, a non-profit initiative that focuses on Syrian art and culture. The show will mark the inauguration of Concrete, the first project in the UAE to be designed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), founded by Rem Koolhaas. The exhibition will continue until 3 April 2017.

Galleries Night

Galleries Night at Alserkal Avenue on 13 March marks the opening of exhibitions, artist commissions and pop-up projects taking place across the Avenue through Art Week. Collectors and enthusiasts are invited to explore new exhibitions across the ten contemporary art galleries participating in Art Dubai, as well as the creative concepts within the Avenue, between 6pm – 10pm.

Alserkal Programming

Alserkal Programming commissions during Art Week will focus on local talent and the theme of ‘work’. The four commissions are by UAE-based artists Farah Al Qasimi, Ammar Al Attar, Karim Sultan, and Raja’a Khalid. Each of the artists will produce work that is inspired by the physical, social and cultural framework of Alserkal Avenue and its surrounding industrial neighbourhood of Al Quoz in Dubai.

Majlis Talks

Art Week at Alserkal Avenue continues through 18 March with a line-up that includes Majlis Talks, taking place most days in The Yard between 4pm – 6pm. Art Week will also feature a diverse programme of workshops, film screenings and book launches that are open to the public. Screenings include Barakah Meets Barakah (2016) and Play it Again Sam (1972), which is part of the screening programme for Plaza Cinema, Ammar Al Attar’s Alserkal Programming commission that reflects on the cultural impact of one of Dubai’s first movie-houses.

Pop-up Projects

Alserkal Avenue will also host a number of pop-up projects, including an exhibition of the six winners of the 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Other pop-up projects include an art book fair, Fully Booked; the launch of Ahmed Mater’s book Desert of Pharan: Unofficial Histories of The Mass Expansion of Mecca; Shoonya Ghar, a multimedia presentation by Sudarshan Shetty; Woven Heritage, an exhibition of fine art printmaking; and an exhibition of works by female Emirati artists by Zayed University: College of Arts & Creative Enterprises’ Future Perfect Future.


Alongside the activities for Art Week, Alserkal Avenue will also be launching Folio, a platform on the Alserkal Avenue website that will be a collection of essays, features, podcasts and videos that document the ever-growing and evolving creative scene of the MENASA region. Notes from our journeys across the region and beyond combine with stories that explore our incredible contemporary art galleries, creative concepts and entrepreneurs within the Avenue.

Vilma Jurkute, Director of Alserkal Avenue remarks, “While contemporary art has always been at the heart of Alserkal Avenue, our commitment is to all forms of creative expression. This can be seen in the diversity of talent on show during Art Week this year, but also in the launch of Concrete - a space designed to house international-level, museum-grade exhibitions and inspired creative concepts.”

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Editor’s Notes

About Alserkal Avenue

Located in Al Quoz, Dubai, Alserkal Avenue is the region’s foremost arts and culture neighbourhood. Since it was established in 2007, Alserkal Avenue has grown to become an essential platform for the development of homegrown artistic and cultural initiatives, supporting a vibrant community of contemporary art galleries

and alternative art spaces, together with design, media and industrial studios. In 2015, in addition to its commitment to the community, Alserkal Avenue affirmed its position as an arts organisation with the launch of Alserkal Programming. The programming arm produces an annual homegrown programme for local, regional, and international audiences, working primarily with artists living and working in the MENASA region. An

Artists’ Residency is scheduled to launch in 2017, further enhancing the organisation’s breadth and scope.

About Alserkal Programming
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. The annual programme is thematically developed to focus on a particular issue, bringing artists and professionals from different fields together to examine a concept through wide-ranging means and perspectives. www.alserkalavenue.ae/programming

About Concrete
Conceptualised by Alserkal Avenue, Concrete is the first building in the UAE to be designed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), founded by Rem Koolhaas. Concrete is a multi-disciplinary space located in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, with the ability to bring creative visions to life, making it suitable for international, museum-grade exhibitions as well as bespoke events across fashion, film, design and the performing arts.

More info: alserkalavenue.ae | Facebook, twitter and instagram: #AlserkalAvenue, @AlserkalAvenue


Full details of Art Week at Alserkal Avenue.

* Galleries participating in Art Dubai


Jean-Paul Najar Foundation presents group exhibition Artist Run New York: The Seventies, curated by Jessamyn Fiore, that explores the transformation of contemporary art in 1970s New York.

Salsali Private Museum will present a group exhibition titled Sculpture, exploring Middle-Eastern sculptures with examples from antiquity through to the present day.

1x1 Gallery* opens the Sleepless Constellation group exhibition, curated by Salima Hashmi, and showing works by seven artists who inhabit the imagination, securing spaces for rumination and perpetual questioning.

Ayyam Gallery* features two exhibitions by artist Samia Halaby, Illuminated Space, which highlights the artist’s latest experiments in abstraction, and Documentary Drawings of the Kafr Qasem Massacre, featuring a selection of drawings that depict the murders of 49 Palestinian civilians by Israeli border guards in 1956.

Carbon 12* will show Salvation by Sara Rahbar, looking at how activism is working to expand the individual acts of violence she has experienced into universal ones, to amplify the sufferings of humanity through her chosen materials.

Custot Gallery Dubai* celebrates its first anniversary at Alserkal Avenue with a group exhibition, featuring the artists Fernando Botero, Nick Brandt, Ian Davenport, Richard Höglund, Jedd Novatt, Marc Quinn, Pablo Reinoso, Bernar Venet and Fabienne Verdier.

Elmarsa Gallery* will show a selection of works from Khaled Ben Slimane’s exhibition titled Ya Latif, including paintings on paper, canvas, wood, as well as ceramic works.

Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde* launches Minor Work by UAE-based artist Vikram Divecha, in which he identifies hidden seams within pre-existing systems of urban life, creating interventions and installations that, if only temporarily, disrupt the status quo, bringing their otherwise invisible structures and operations into plain view.

Green Art Gallery* launches Write Injuries on Sand and Kindness in Marble by Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, in which the artist uses the lens of aquamorphology to explore the infinite facets and shards of memory, historicity and time.

Lawrie Shabibi* presents an exhibition by Mounir Fatmi titled Inside the Fire Circle, which will expand on the artist’s interest in the circle, its form and symbolic meaning throughout history.

Leila Heller Gallery* will launch three exhibitions. The Vast: Mirrors of the Mind by artist Bill Viola will present selection of pioneering video pieces. The second exhibition will show a series of works by leading Pakistani contemporary artist Rashid Rana. The third exhibition will present six intricate low-relief paper sculptural works by Iranian-American artist Hadieh Shafie.

The Third Line’s* exhibition EVERYTHING MUST GO by Sophia Al Maria, is an iteration of Black Friday – Sophia’s solo exhibition was shown at The Whitney Museum of American Art in 2016 – and takes its name from a new series of work.

CHI-KA will launch group exhibition Colour Code #Kimono delving into the depths of the delicate colours of Japan, exploring their strong metaphorical and cultural meanings, cosmological dimensions and poetic significance.

FN Designs will exhibit Emergent Momenta, by Joshua Watts, an examination of time as a malleable fabric that can be stretched and contorted in ways altering fundamental perceptions of the world around us.

Gulf Photo Plus showcases The People of Pattern, a solo exhibition by multi-media artist, Alia Ali, who explores the medium of fabric as something that is of our earth, a manifestation of our imagination, a reflection of our environment and an archive of our stories.

Grey Noise presents the first solo exhibition and debut of Lala Rukh in the United Arab Emirates, sagar.

La Galerie Nationale opens the first solo exhibition of artist Fred Kleinberg in the Middle East, Face to Face 2. Through his particular and famous painting technique, the artist will pay homage to international music icons.

The MB&F M.A.D.Gallery presents Optical Variations, an exhibit by French artist Damien Bénéteau, featuring five of his illuminated, hypnotising monochromatic mobiles.

Showcase Gallery will show an exhibition by Helen Teede, Uprooting, that explores the question of identity that never arises until it is called into question; that of the home.

Satellite will show the group exhibition, Morphḗ Presence, exploring contemporary life and how perception is often punctuated by technology - so frequently that we no longer distinguish between simulacra and material.

SVENM with present Everyday masterpieces: the art of buildings, an exhibition looking at standing structures beyond their abstraction, their surfaces and functionality.

Alserkal Programming Commissions

Ammar Al Attar’s project Plaza Cinema stems from the artist’s efforts to rescue old filmstrips, movie posters and ephemera from decommissioned theatres in the UAE. These aging movie-houses are touchstones of Dubai’s modern history and places of deep personal meaning and memory for residents. In January 2017, Al Attar recreated a series of thirty movie posters from Plaza Cinema, a recently shuttered theatre in Bur Dubai, as a prelude to his project. In March, the artist presents an installation of the materials he rescued, providing a rare opportunity to analyse and consider how film often connects diverse migrant communities – many of whom are in the UAE for work – with narratives and images of home.

Different Air is a three-part commission by Karim Sultan that explores notions of movement, migration, and the physical experience and trauma of deterioration and loss of memory. The project’s third iteration will be presented in March, concluding a trilogy of performances that examine the increasing distance between an individual who leaves home and the difficulties they face retaining memories accurately and performing them meaningfully as they drift further and further away, geographically and chronologically.

Farah Al Qasimi’s It’s Not Easy Being Seen is a two-part commission that explores the invisible labour of women in the cycle of creation and consumption, through the mediums of photography, performance and video. The first element presented in November 2016 was a billboard in The Yard at Alserkal Avenue; the second element presented in March 2017, will include a series of short videos that explore the effects of capitalism on the female body, and reference the intimate relation between artistic labour and creative production.

Raja’a Khalid will debut Change Your Life, which critiques a fashionable practice of performative masculinity (i.e. working out) and places it as a contemporary motif of religiosity. A moving tableau, the commission consists of a gym, which will be open for five weeks to pre-selected young, male fitness professionals where they will participate in a workout regimen. The installation looks carefully at the arts neighbourhood’s proximity to an increasing number of fitness centres within the framework theorised by Peter Sloterdijk in his 2013 book You Must Change Your Life in which the German philosopher tracks the history and philosophy of practice and discipline. By making their connections more explicit Khalid's commission exposes the blurring between the potentially aesthetic, ascetic and athletic demands of contemporary life in the Gulf.


Ammar Al Attar
Born in 1981, Ammar Al Attar lives in Ajman in the United Arab Emirates. Completely self-taught, Al Attar’s practice as a photographer and mixed-media artist, seeks to not only document and translate but also methodically research and examine aspects of Emirati ritual, material culture, and geographic orientation that are increasingly illusive in his rapidly globalising society. Al Attar often incorporates retro photographic equipment into his shoots. He hoards everything from slide projectors to large format cameras, dog-eared postcards and orphaned negatives and meticulously catalogues these clues to the past on the shelves of his Sharjah studio. His ongoing research project, Reverse Moments, a collaboration with various long time studio photographers, collects stories and artifacts that compose the history of photography in the UAE, and curates these flashes into a critical emerging narrative. Al Attar’s work has been increasingly shown within the UAE and Gulf, and is held in prestigious public and private collections including Sharjah Art Foundation, Barjeel Art Foundation, and Maraya Art Centre, the forthcoming Zayed National Museum, amongst others.

Karim Sultan
Born in Kuwait and now living in Dubai, Karim Sultan is an artist and curator. A graduate of York University in Toronto, Karim creates experimental electronica- based sound art that is imbued with Arab and regional influences. The work acts as a kind of travelogue that narrates his journeys, both physically and metaphorically. Karim performed at the 2015 Shubbak Festival of Contemporary Arab Culture in London and is the founding editor of Kalimat magazine, the non-profit publication that is committed to open expression for Arab creatives worldwide. He plays the oud, the Arabic stringed instrument similar to the lute. Karim is also currently the curator at Barjeel Art Foundation.

Farah Al Qasimi

Born in Abu Dhabi and now based between New Haven Connecticut and Abu Dhabi, Farah Al Qasimi is an artist and musician. Farah studied photography and music at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, and is currently an MFA candidate in the Photography programme at Yale School of Art. Farah has participated in residencies at the Burren College of Art in Ireland, at her studio in Dubai (with the support of the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation) and at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Most recently, she participated in the Sheikha Salama Foundation and Rhode Island School of Design Emerging Artist Fellowship. Recent shows include the first Biennial for Arab Photography at Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; Emirati Expressions at Manarat al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi; Walls and Margins at the Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; Accented at Maraya Art Center, Sharjah; and The World is Sinking at The Third Line, Dubai.

Raja’a Khalid

Born in Saudi Arabia in 1984, Raja’a Khalid is an artist from Dubai. She received her MFA in Fine Art from Cornell University, where she was also the recipient of the Cornell Council for the Arts Grant in 2013. Her practice is concerned with the Arabian Gulf region and its narratives of class, ultra luxury and consumer culture. Her current work looks at the Gulf’s streaming motifs of soft power alongside frequently encountered notions of masculinity, athleticism, sport, adornment, desire and crypto-secularity. Recent awards and residencies include the NYU Abu Dhabi FIND Research Fellowship, 2014; the Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen International Fellowship for Art and Theory, 2015; the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten Guest Residency, 2015; and the International Curatorial and Studio Program Residency, 2015. Her work has been shown in New York, London, Dubai, Basel and Vienna.