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The unpredictable movement of the light in James Clar's Broadcast series creates a sense of uncertainty in the viewer.
The unpredictable movement of the light in James Clar's Broadcast series creates a sense of uncertainty in the viewer.

Swinging light installation for James Clar 'Broadcast' series

The artist James Clar talks about the one-night art events at his Al Quoz studio.

James Clar's latest light installation comes swinging wildly at us. A light bulb is suspended from an industrial fan that hangs from the ceiling. As the fan whirrs, the bulb is whipped around the room. To stop it from reaching a constant motion, the fan cuts out at random. We cannot help but take a cautionary step back.

This is the third in Clar's performance series, Broadcast. Previous events, in September and October, have seen him invite different Dubai-based artists into his Al Quoz studio space to enact a one-night-only installation piece, but this time he's presenting work of his own.

Clar is an American artist and has been based in Dubai for the past four years. Working closely with Traffic, Clar's practice has evolved from visual pieces that bend and play with light into more conceptually driven work, unpicking the churning hubbub of the media's portrayal of the war on terror, for instance, to recent pieces that question what is seen as the security-obsessed hysteria of the modern state.

He remains true to his love of electronics, however. As the artist tinkers with a switchboard in his studio, he says that the next instalment of Broadcast will be clearer in its intention. "The last two were quite extreme, but for this one I want people to focus on the event as a conceptual art night and not just a party."

Indeed, the last two Broadcast nights did get pretty raucous. In October, for example, Akshay Sardana brought a mechanical bull into the space, dressed it up like a camel and watched in amusement as people - hyper on handouts of camel-milk chocolate - were flung from its irate, rocking chassis.

But for his own Broadcast, Clar wants to reflect on setting up his studio in New York at the start of next year after a long stint in the Far East and in Dubai.

"I'm interested in the random pattern that the light bulb creates as it moves," he says. "Each person has a random path in life, and I never planned to end up in Dubai. I'm making a lot of work right now about my transition to the States."

Though its mechanism is obvious, there's something intimidating about standing before this swinging orb of light as it thrashes around the room. The sense of uncertainty, chaos and constant upheaval that the work expresses is something we can all relate to.

But this Broadcast series has also challenged the conventional structure of going to see an art show out here - nothing is sold at Broadcast, it lasts only one night, and is an installation that occupies the entire space. "The gallery system here is very commercially focused and I think there's a lot of art that doesn't get seen because it might be difficult to sell. This isn't a criticism, galleries have to make their rent and the artists have to eat. But I want to show that art can be pretty much anything."

Broadcast is on November 13, 7pm, at Satellite in Al Serkal Avenue, Al Quoz, Dubai. Also opening in the Al Serkal area that night are paintings by Ziad Dalloul at Green Art Gallery, a solo exhibition by Ghazel at Carbon 12, and a group show of Egyptian artists at Mojo Gallery

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