Dubai’s ‘Second Hand’ art show explores morphing materials

Moffat Takadiwa’s ‘Second Hand Information’ (2014). (Jameel Arts Centre)
Updated 15 July 2019

Dubai’s ‘Second Hand’ art show explores morphing materials

DUBAI: The Dubai-based Jameel Arts Centre has unveiled a new program this summer, including a diverse exhibition titled “Second Hand,” which is set to run until Nov. 23.

The exhibition explores divergent takes on materiality and features works by 18 artists and collectives from the Art Jameel Collection. It includes commissions, performances, workshops, talks and film screenings.

The 18 local, regional and international artists and collectives involved in “Second Hand” employ traditional and non-traditional approaches to creating thought-provoking art work, from man-made to machine made pieces that often incorporate everyday, humdrum items.

“Through divergent modes of expression — sculpture, installation, assemblage, drawing, photography, painting and performance — together the artworks in ‘Second Hand’ highlight a broad approach to object-based practices that challenge the way we perceive material and our understanding of what the material represents,” the exhibition space said in a released statement.

Drawn primarily from the Art Jameel Collection, “Second Hand” includes works by Adel Abdessemed, Haig Aivazian, Abbas Akhavan, Diana Al-Hadid, Doa Aly, Fayçal Baghriche, Walead Beshty, Vikram Divecha, Jason Dodge, Zahrah Al-Ghamdi, Bita Ghezelayagh, Mohammed Kazem, Azade Köker, Cinthia Marcelle, Keita Miyazaki, Slavs and Tatars, Moffat Takadiwa and Mario García Torres.

The exhibition’s title references Zimbabwean artist Moffat Takadiwa’s “Second Hand Information” (2014), created from repurposed computer keys and alluding to how, as information is passed on from one person to the next, the meaning of material changes over time.

Several of the featured artworks feature material that has been repurposed, transformed or reworked, reflecting how different environments can change the meaning and purpose of certain materials.

Other pieces in the show explore how objects and artworks are made — creating art out of the process itself.

Haig Aivazian painstakingly draws realistic marble tiles with graphite, while a meticulously crafted, site-specific commission by Zahrah Al-Ghamdi sees leather forms spill out across the gallery and into the adjacent courtyard.

Meanwhile, artists such as Mohammed Kazem, Slavs and Tatars and Vikram Divecha consider the relationship between time and production, through mapping and the use of audio elements.

“Second Hand” is accompanied by a limited-edition catalogue designed by Kemistry, as well as a series of public programs, featuring site-specific commissions, performances, workshops, talks and film screenings.


‘It Must Be Heaven’: Elia Suleiman’s sardonic take on the world

Suleiman, who plays the lead role as himself, explores identity, nationality and belonging. (Supplied)
Updated 23 October 2019

‘It Must Be Heaven’: Elia Suleiman’s sardonic take on the world

MUMBAI: Elia Suleiman’s “It Must Be Heaven,” which was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival, is pure cinema. Like his earlier works, here too the Palestinian director uses wit, sarcasm and minimalism, this time to present a series of vignettes that are funny but also a powerful lambast of the world we live in. Suleiman, who plays the lead role as himself, explores identity, nationality and belonging.

He says people worldwide now live in fear amid global geopolitical tensions. Today, checkpoints are just about everywhere: In airports, shopping malls, cinemas, highways — the list is endless.

“It Must Be Heaven” was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival. (Supplied) 

Suleiman’s earlier features, such as “Chronicle of a Disappearance” and “Divine Intervention,” showed us everyday life in the occupied Palestinian territories. This time, it is Paris and New York. 

The first scene is hilarious, with a bishop trying to enter a church with his followers. The gatekeeper on the other side of the heavy wooden door is probably too intoxicated and refuses to let the priest in, leading to a comical situation. Suleiman’s life in Nazareth is filled with such incidents — snippets that have been strung together to tell us of tension in society. Neighbors turn out to be selfish, and only generous when they know they are being watched. 

The Palestinian director uses wit, sarcasm and minimalism, to present a series of vignettes that are funny but also a powerful lambast of the world we live in. (Supplied)

In Paris, the cafes along the grand boulevards, and the young women who pass by, are typical of France’s capital. But a cut to Bastille Day, with tanks rolling by in a show of strength, jolts us back to harsh reality. In New York, Suleiman’s cab driver is excited at driving a Palestinian. 

The film has an interesting way of storytelling. The scenes begin as observational shots, but the camera quickly changes positions to show Suleiman watching from the other side of the room or a street. The camera then returns to where it first stood, and this back-and-forth movement is delightfully engaging.

The framing is so perfect, and the colors so bright and beautiful, that each scene looks magical. And as the director looks on at all this with his usual deadpan expression, a sardonic twitch at the corner of his mouth, we know all this is but illusion. There is bitter truth ahead!