Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 February 2020

Alserkal Lates 2019: a night of art, contemporary dance and more

The art season kicks off at Alserkal Avenue with must-see exhibitions, dance performances and newly-opened concept stores

'Mareecha Magic Trick' (2018) by Vasantha Yogananthan, part of the 'Body Building' exhibition at Ishara Art Foundation. Courtesy of the artist, Jhaveri Contemporary Mumbai and Ishara Art Foundation
'Mareecha Magic Trick' (2018) by Vasantha Yogananthan, part of the 'Body Building' exhibition at Ishara Art Foundation. Courtesy of the artist, Jhaveri Contemporary Mumbai and Ishara Art Foundation

For a night of contemporary art, dance and culture, look no further than Alserkal Lates. On Monday, September 30, Alserkal Avenue will mark the new season with an evening of art shows, contemporary dance performances and the launch of new concept stores in the industrial neighbourhood.

Here’s what to expect from the event and some recommendations on which exhibitions to visit.

Must-see exhibitions

Body Building at Ishara Art Foundation (until Saturday, December 14)

Arthur Cresanti's 'Luxury Living Bhiwadi - Sky Club on 18th Floor' (2017), part of the 'Body Building' exhibition at Ishara Art Foundation. Courtesy of the artist and Ishara Art Foundation
Arthur Cresanti's 'Luxury Living Bhiwadi - Sky Club on 18th Floor' (2017), part of the 'Body Building' exhibition at Ishara Art Foundation. Courtesy of the artist and Ishara Art Foundation

If there’s one exhibition you should visit, it’s Body Building. It looks at urban life across South Asian cities, and how architecture and infrastructure shape or reflect identities and aspirations, both collective and individual. Featuring 16 artists, the show – which features mostly photographic works – considers the ecological, sociological and psychological effects of economic progress on communities, and how these echo what’s happening in the Gulf. Curated by Nada Raza, formerly at the Tate, Ishara Art Foundation’s second show does not disappoint.

What would you do with an image that glistens? at Grey Noise (until Saturday, November 2)

'Coloured Fields 19 (amma and I)' by Faisal Rizvi. In this exhibition 'What would you do with an image that glistens?' at Grey Noise, the artist raises questions about truth and memory through his own family experience. Courtesy of the artist and Grey Noise
'Coloured Fields 19 (amma and I)' by Faisal Rizvi. Courtesy of the artist and Grey Noise

Poetic and moving, Faisal Rizvi’s What would you do with an image that glistens? is part-ode and part-lament to the artist’s maternal grandmother. Rizvi attempts to reconcile the family narrative around her (“one of the most beautiful women in her time”) and the grandmother he knew, one who struggled with dementia as he was growing up. The result is akin to a familial study, and there is something investigative about the way Rizvi presents materials from daily life, such as scraps of fabric that his grandmother would collect, next to his written memories of her and his relatives. Using this relationship as a starting point, the artist asks larger questions about truth, memory and how we come to understand the people we love.

Unreal. Unseen. Untouched. at 1x1 Art Gallery (until Wednesday, October 30)

Alaa Edris’s first solo exhibition Unreal. Unseen. Untouched. gives a captivating look at the Emirati artist’s practice over the past decade. On view are Edris’s sculptures, photographs and videos, which consider issues of gender, identity, urbanism, myth-making and surveillance. From one body of work to the next, visitors can trace Edris’s artistic depth and breadth – her photo series States (2016) and Reem Dream (2015) depict digitally reimagined architectural landscapes of the UAE. Her video work The Consumer, The Consumed (2014) and projection The Face (2009 / 2019) subtly comment on how women have to present themselves in society and the different roles they have to take on. Throughout the show, one sees the artist’s thoughtful reflection on her social context and her unwavering originality.

AFTER at Lawrie Shabibi (Until Thursday, November 7)

From Larissa Sansour's 'After' exhibition at Lawrie Shabibi. These powerful photographs are drawn from the Danish-Palestianian artist's sci-fi film presented at the Venice Biennale 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Lawrie Shabibi
From Larissa Sansour's 'After' exhibition at Lawrie Shabibi. Courtesy of the artist and Lawrie Shabibi

Larissa Sansour’s third solo show at the gallery features powerful conceptual photographs that narrate the aftermath of a natural calamity in Bethlehem. The images are drawn from her sci-fi film In Vitro, presented at the Danish Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale. The film explores exile and the nostalgia that comes with it, and asks questions about how to preserve the past in pursuit of a different future. Though Sansour speaks of the political situation in Palestine, her concept is universal and her concerns urgent, particularly in relation to climate change. Using strong contrasts in light and shadow in her images, the Danish-Palestinian artist presents cinematic and memorable visions of a future that teeters between dystopic and salvageable. The beauty of After and Sansour’s work is that it avoids hopelessness and cynicism despite tackling very real and challenging political issues.

The Arab Street, Vol II at Gulf Photo Plus (Until Saturday, November 16)

GPP’s community exhibition showcases works selected from an open call earlier this year. Presented in sections, the exhibition breaks down various elements of and approaches to street photography, from conceptual to observational. There are the more abstract compositions of Ishaq Madan with an aerial view of colourful mats laid out for iftar, and the documentarian approach of Neil Ta, capturing a tense moment between customers outside a local cafe. The photographs in the show, which were chosen from more than 700 submissions, encompass scenes of beauty, tragedy and humorous coincidence, proving how wide-ranging street photography can be.

Arrival at The Third Line (Until Saturday, November 23)

Farah Al Qasimi’s vibrant visual narratives for Arrival focus on the creation of myth and jinn folklore in the UAE. Along with a series of photographs, her first feature-length film, Um Al Naar (Mother of Fire), is on view at the gallery. The horror-comedy’s protagonist is a jinn from Ras Al Khaimah who laments its loss of power in the modern age. There are also snippets of exorcism footage and interviews with people who claim to have witnessed jinn first-hand. Infused with sly wit, the film asks viewers about the weaving of folkloric narratives, the construction of fear and danger in society and how these can be released.

Other galleries presenting new shows include Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, where the ever-shifting exhibition of Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian entitled We Are Open for Installation (until Saturday, November 9) reaches its final phase. Korean artist Ran Hwang contemplates natural beauty through craft-based work in The Flight of Time at Leila Heller Gallery (until Thursday, November 7).

Contemporary dance performance: ‘WRECK – List of Extinct Species’ (September 30-October 1)

In this intense and boundary-pushing performance, dancers combat a colossal black entity that attempts to invade the stage. The “entity” is actually a giant soft sculpture, much like an air pillow, serving as a metaphor for capitalism, a Leviathan or the human condition – it is up to the audience to decide.

Directed and choreographed by artist Pietro Marullo and performed by the Insiemi Irreali Company, Wreck – List of Extinct Species acts both as a reminder and warning of the precariousness of human life as we rail against forces beyond our control.

Contemporary dance performance 'WRECK – List of Extinct Species' combines elements of sound, visual and performance art. Courtesy of Alserkal Avenue  
Contemporary dance performance 'WRECK – List of Extinct Species' combines elements of sound, visual and performance art. Courtesy of Alserkal Avenue  

Blending elements of visual, sound and performance art, this hour-long contemporary dance piece promises to be dark and thought-provoking.

Wreck – List of Extinct Species has been performed around the world, including in Beijing, Barcelona and Brussels. Performances take place at Concrete, a multidisciplinary space that was shortlisted for an Aga Khan Award for Architecture this year, on Monday, September 30 and Tuesday, October 1 at 8.30pm. Tickets are priced at Dh150 and can be purchased at the door or online.

New spaces to visit: a unisex salon, yoga studio, footwear store and floral shop

Inside Ame Artistic Studio, a new flower shop at Alserkal Avenue that hosts workshops on floral arrangement and aromatherapy. Courtesy of Alserkal Avenue
Inside Ame Artistic Studio, a new flower shop at Alserkal Avenue that hosts workshops on floral arrangement and aromatherapy. Courtesy of Alserkal Avenue

Alserkal Avenue’s list of concepts is growing. During Alserkal Lates, new and recently launched spaces will open to the public, including Chalk, a unisex beauty salon. Founded by Emirati entrepreneur Anas Bukhash, the space boasts industrial-chic interiors, plus a neon-lit room for customers’ selfie needs. Serving ice cream and coffee, it seems more like a place to hang out rather than a spot to simply get a haircut.

Another beautifully decorated space is Ame Artistic Studio, which not only sells flowers, but hosts workshops on floral arrangements and aromatherapy. It also stocks a selection of home decor and lifestyle products.

Inside Chalk, a unisex beauty salon that recently opened at Alserkal Avenue. Courtesy of Alserkal Avenue
Inside Chalk, a unisex beauty salon that recently opened at Alserkal Avenue. Courtesy of Alserkal Avenue

Footwear brand Tamashee has transformed its Warehouse 59 space into a multipurpose store that serves Saudi Arabian speciality coffee and a venue for art workshops. For those looking for something more personalised, Italian Shoe Factory in Warehouse 9 accepts orders for custom-made footwear.

Wisdom Warehouse is a new creative hub for children that offers hands-on activities, workshops, art classes and social clubs, including Mathletes, Young Authors Club and a book club.

Other newly opened concepts include Kave, Society Motors, Cyacle and electriclimefilms.

Alserkal Lates takes place on Monday from 6pm to 10pm in Al Quoz, Dubai. More information at www.alserkalavenue.ae

Updated: September 29, 2019 12:59 PM

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