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Vikram Divecha: Portrait Sessions© Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde

Vikram Divecha
Portrait Sessions 2016

30 uncredited paintings, 3 documents, private studio

Gallery Vikram Divecha

How much standard professional time does AED 150 buy from individuals working in the UAE, across professional and economic strata?

"Portrait Sessions" is a painting project, initiated on 26/07/2016 and completed on 13/10/2016. Vikram Divecha invited a spectrum of self-identified "non-professional painters" to become "the artist" and to paint his portrait. The duration of each portrait session is determined by how much time AED 150 can buy according to each "artist’s" professional rate. Divecha’s experience of paying workers AED 150* as a daily wage for nine hours of work serves as the base unit of labour value for this venture. The collection of portraits is considered as one work, entitled "Portrait Sessions", and was exhibited at Tashkeel without being attributed to the artists who signed a contract to work on this project with Divecha.

*AED 150 does not represent minimum wage — the daily wage of a worker in the UAE varies.

"Portrait Sessions" (2016) was the culmination of Tashkeel's year-long Critical Practice Programme with mentor Debra Levine.

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Vikram Divecha | Beirut-born, Mumbai-bred, Vikram Divecha is an artist based in Dubai.

His practice raises questions about time, value and authorship by engaging people across urban and social spheres, and working with available material and space. Divecha terms this approach "found processes", which often sees him intervene within public and social systems. From wholesale exporters to municipal gardeners, architectural consultants to railway traffic managers, Divecha’s participants inform and shape his projects in various ways, in some cases for sustained durations. These attempts translate into public art, site-specific interventions, workshops, installations, moving images, paintings, surfaces, drawings, photographs, performances and text.

Divecha holds an MFA in Visual Art from Columbia University and was a participant in the Museum’s Independent Study Program. Divecha’s works have been exhibited in various institutions, including Jameel Arts Center, Dubai (2019); The Jewish Museum, NY (2019); Wallach Art Gallery, NY (2019); 57th Venice Biennale (2017); 13th Sharjah Biennial (2017); Abu Dhabi (2017); Centre for Art, Warsaw (2015). Vikram Divecha is represented by Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, Dubai, UAE.

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