x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Keeping up the momentum

Last weekend, the second edition of Campus Art Dubai kicked off at the same time as a number of initiatives sparked by the first course.

From left, the painter Bilal Aquil, the conceptual artist Rania Jishi and the photographer Ammar Alattar in the Capsule Arts warehouse. Jeff Topping for The National
From left, the painter Bilal Aquil, the conceptual artist Rania Jishi and the photographer Ammar Alattar in the Capsule Arts warehouse. Jeff Topping for The National

For the first six months of the year, 32 artists, curators, writers and practitioners were quietly completing the pilot programme for Campus Art Dubai (CAD), a joint initiative by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and Art Dubai.

One Saturday a month, the group had lectures, workshops and critiques, continuing their tuition in one-on-one guided sessions. Then, during September and October, eight of the graduates completed a residency at the Capsule Arts warehouse space in Al Quoz.

“It’s amazing to have a space to be creative in, especially to be surrounded by other artists – that helps us develop,” says Rania Jishi, a painter and conceptual artist.

Bilal Aquil, who works with oil, acrylics and pastels on paper, says that the course and the residency have been a platform for growth. “CAD allowed me to refine my thoughts and effectively take them to the next level.”

The residency ended on Friday and concurrently two other graduates presented exhibitions that were the result of work done throughout the CAD course.

At the Sharjah Art Foundation, Shannon Ayers Holden has curated Chaos into Clarity: Re-Possessing a Funktioning Utopia, featuring three artists from the African diaspora: the American textile artist Xenobia Bailey, the Moroccan-born photographer and designer Hassan Hajjaj and the British-Trinidadian filmmaker and sculptor Zak Ové.

In Dubai at theJamJar, Barrak Al Zaid, the gallery manager from Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde and also a CAD graduate, has curated a quirky exhibition called How to Do Things with Hair, the result of his fascination with male body hair and an attempt to objectify men.

“The output [of CAD] is largely intangible,” says Lee Xie, the coordinator of CAD. “If these artists have shows in five years based on work they were thinking about during CAD, the influence is there but you cannot see it.”

Both shows opened on Saturday, when the second edition of CAD began. It will conclude in March, at the same time as the art fair. “The process is about making sure there is a sustained community within the arts,” says Xie.

• How to Do Things with Hair runs until December 2 at theJamJar, Dubai. Chaos into Clarity: Re-­Possessing a Funktioning Utopia runs until January 26 in Building F, SAF Art Spaces, Al Mureijah, Sharjah

aseaman@thenational.ae