x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Project D studios show Time and Space Matter

Two forthcoming Emirati curators have collaborated with two emerging Emirati artists for a new experimental show.

The women behind Time and Space Matter, from left: the curators Maisa Al Qassimi and Noor Al Suwaidi, and the artists Zeinab Al Hashemi and Shamma Al Amri. Razan Alzayani / The National
The women behind Time and Space Matter, from left: the curators Maisa Al Qassimi and Noor Al Suwaidi, and the artists Zeinab Al Hashemi and Shamma Al Amri. Razan Alzayani / The National

In a lofty warehouse in Dubai’s industrial zone, temporary home to a time-lapse video, a wall painting and an oversized sculpture of a concrete breeze block, time and space certainly do matter.

The curators Noor Al Suwaidi and Maisa Al Qassimi have explored these universal and scientific concepts in an exhibition of the same name that opened in Project D studios on March 9. Although art-lovers’ calendars are well and truly packed for the next couple of weeks, it is worth taking a trip into the dusty reaches of Al Quoz to visit Time and Space Matter.

On the back wall, and luring the visitor in with its striking beauty, is Homosapiens (Wise Humans), in which Shamma Al Amri explores her fascination with a lonely blogger she found on the internet and the work of Stephen Hawking. “He [Hawking] advocates the analogy of the goldfish in a bowl that has its own set of physics and laws and a distorted view of reality,” Al Amri explains. “He applies that metaphor to humans as they comprehend time and change.”

In charcoal and directly onto the wall – in itself a nod to the temporal nature of the work – Al Amri has drawn a fish, which appears to be swimming towards us. She has tangled its fins with the hair of a woman, an image inspired by a stranger who wrote a detailed blog about her life that nobody read. “I am trying to show the human condition of change,” she says. “Even the materials I use are impermanent, meaning that over the period of the exhibition, things will change – there is no certainty.

“I have a continued obsession with time passing because I grew up in a city of rapid change and fast development and it affected me,” she adds.

In the centre of the experimental space, of which this exhibition is only its second, is Zeinab Al Hashemi’s Monolith Pillar. The three-metre high recreation of a concrete block is a stark and solid contrast to Al Amri’s dreamy depiction, and along with a minimised version of a cement mixer titled Urban Morphology, is intended as a representation of the area. “People are part of their surroundings and part of their space,” says Al Hashemi. “My work is related to that.”

Al Hashemi, who is also exhibiting in this year’s Design Days Dubai and the Sharjah Biennial, is something of an emerging talent and her commitment to her trade is palpable in her words.

“The first ideas you have for any project are not the right ones. I need to take them much further and pave the path until I find something that is more than personal. I am interested in site-specific work because I want to grab an audience that might not be interested in a painting or a drawing and present other things as art.”

From quantum physics to the building blocks of a generation, in just three pieces of art, Al Suwaidi and Al Qassimi have achieved their task of conveying a concept many would shy away from tackling. In a city awash with international art, it might be worth taking the time (and space) to remember the talents we have closer to home.

Time and Space Matter is showing until April 18 at Project D, Capital D Studios, Al Quoz, Dubai

aseaman@thenational.ae