DUBAI: Emirati artist Lamya Gargash, known for her exploration of space and the human experience, has unveiled her latest solo exhibition, “Isthmus,” at the Third Line in Dubai, UAE.
Curated by Sophie Mayuko Arni, this showcase, running from May 23 to July 21, unveils Gargash’s distinctive poetics of space, transcending boundaries to forge a powerful connection between the UAE and Japan.
“Isthmus” serves as a testament to Gargash’s extraordinary artistic vision. The exhibition recounts human experiences across diverse geographies, all while eschewing the presence of the human figure.
Gargash’s meticulous selection and photographic exploration of objects, furniture pieces, window details and wall trimmings offer profound insights into the human condition, encapsulating the expectations and cultural nuances of various eras and socio-economic contexts.
The exhibition heralds the debut of Gargash’s newest series, born from her transcontinental journey from Dubai, UAE, to Atami, Japan, where she captured the interiors of the Hotel Acao Annex. Building on the success of Gargash’s previous participation in the Atami exhibition, which was covered by Arab News Japan last year, “Isthmus” showcases a compelling dialogue between her photographs of Hotel Acao in Atami and her earlier explorations of interiors in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
By juxtaposing these distinct yet interconnected interior spaces, Gargash skillfully constructs bridges that traverse the UAE and Japan. Through her lens, Gargash reveals the similarities and shared conceptual grounds that underlie these seemingly disparate environments, reminding viewers that despite outward differences, the essence of human experience remains universal.
As the artist herself articulates, “the images may seem different on the outskirts but serve the same purpose and cover the same conceptual grounds, bringing the human experience into space.”
In a convergence of Gargash’s artistic trajectory, her exhibition also features a dialogue with her earlier body of work featuring images of the Queen Elizabeth II (QE2) cruise ship — a British ocean liner transformed into a permanent floating hotel situated in Dubai.
Gargash’s lens captures the essence of this floating space, interweaving narratives, histories and symbolic meanings to evoke a sense of fluid identities and the dynamic coexistence of diverse cultural influences that are present within the UAE.
The word “isthmus,” from which the exhibition derives its name, becomes a powerful metaphorical thread that unites spaces as disparate as the Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi, Hotel Acao in Atami, and the QE2 in Dubai. Drawing from the Latin word referring to a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land masses, “isthmus” evokes a profound sense of connection and unity. Despite their fundamental differences, these spaces are united by shared qualities, serving as a compelling simile for the exhibition itself.
Consequently, Gargash’s “Isthmus” becomes a visual representation of this geological phenomenon, bridging places that are fundamentally different yet share striking resemblances and interdependencies.
The final section of “Isthmus” introduces Gargash’s never-before-seen still-life photography, displayed on a vibrant pink wall that contrasts with the dark hues of the photographs, enhancing the visibility of each object that takes viewers on an intimate journey into her immediate family. Each object carefully chosen by Gargash symbolizes a family member, imbuing the still-life compositions with personal narratives and emotional resonance. This presentation enhances the visibility of each object, allowing them to shine with greater prominence.
As viewers immerse themselves in this intimate realm, Gargash’s analogue camera, strategically positioned amid the objects, serves as a poignant marker of her presence. This adds a layer of allegory to the exhibition, inviting viewers to delve into the personal narratives that intertwine with the broader exploration of curated interiors and the artistic journey undertaken by Gargash.
From her initial exploration of curated interiors, where she discovered poetry within existing spaces, to her current endeavor of curating her own assemblage of objects, Gargash embarks on an artistic odyssey. “Isthmus” encapsulates her evolution as an artist, showcasing her ability to transcend geographical boundaries, cultural differences and temporal contexts, while weaving a cohesive tapestry that unites the UAE and Japan.