Exhibition and Event LOVE | LABOR| LEISURE

Exhibition and Event

Love | Labour | Leisure is an interdisciplinary project that delves into the ethos of migrant communities in the UAE by reflecting on context, capital and cultural life. Through the lenses of art, performance and music, alternate ways of looking and mapping are presented, from wide-ranging aerial views to forensic, facial close-ups.

Artists: Amirah Tajdin, Anahita Razmi, Augustine Paredes, Eisa Jocson, Mohamed Somji, Saba Qizilbash, Riyas Komu, Vikram Divecha. Music program courtesy of Nadia Says, Mehdi Ansari, WYWY. Programmed by Nadine Khalil.

Free entry, registration required under Splashthat

View the online exhibition here


6:00 pm               Welcome to Love| Labour| Leisure
Opening of the Exhibition, reception, mingling

7:00 pm               Welcome and introduction
7:15 - 8:00 pm    Open channels/restrictive paths: socially engaged art and migratory patterns between the UAE and South Asia
Presentation by Atteqa Ali

This talk considers three artworks that the Sharjah Art Foundation commissioned. Artists Ali Cherri, Wael Shawky, and Rayyane Tabet chose to address situations that highlight the migratory patterns between the UAE and South Asia, which indicate that the movement of people is encouraged/allowed yet also imprudent/prohibited. Utilizing socially engaged practices, their art will be addressed within a framework of “relational aesthetics”, a term that curator Nicolas Bourriaud developed, who argues that much of contemporary art provokes encounters over time. It is about exchanges between people, rather than about an individual looking at an isolated object.

Atteqa Ali is an Associate Professor of Art History and Curatorial Practices at Zayed University in Dubai. She has written the manuscript Collaborative Art Praxes and Contemporary Art Experiments in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020). Play: Subversion in Contemporary Pakistani Art and its Diaspora is under press with Oxford University Press and will be published in 2022. She has organized several exhibitions, including a project at Twelve Gates Gallery in Philadelphia entitled “Back to the Future: History and Contemporary Art in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia”; it considered the work of artists who utilize historical references to talk about current social and political events.

8:00 – 8:45 pm Stepping Out from the Shadows – Performing Cultures in the UAE’s Public Spaces
Presentation and performance by Woodman Taylor and Shereen Saif

Although initially considered “impossible citizens”, as suggested by Neha Vora, the UAE’s diverse communities are now celebrated and able to pursue their cultural practices in public spaces. For Shereen Saif – trained as a dancer in Indian traditions – the negotiation is between and across cultures (South Asian, historic western traditions, transglobal modernities). Similarly, in streets and neighborhoods, workers negotiate ways to step outside of the labor camps and margins in which they reside so as to bring their cultural practices into the public space, as this talk will demonstrate in relation to the Cycling the City research and installation, which delves into the everyday experience of Dubai from the perspective of a worker’s bicycle.

Woodman Taylor Woodman Taylor’s interdisciplinary scholarship revolves around the performative practices of visual and musical cultures. He received his doctoral and master’s degrees in Art History from the University of Chicago, USA. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Asian History and Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, USA. He has taught at the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, India. Dr. Taylor has served as a curator of Islamic and Indian art, first at the Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, and more recently at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA. Dr. Taylor now teaches Art History and Ethnomusicology at the American University in Dubai, UAE, where he is also founding convenor of the AUD Visual Cultures Forum. Dr. Taylor has held research fellowships from the J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles, USA, and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA, and has thrice been a Fulbright Scholar.

Shereen Saif Shereen Saif is a Dubai-based Indian-born artist with a practice that spans dance, theatre, storytelling, voice acting and installation art. Her foundation is diverse and has deep roots in Dance, Theatre and Architecture. Her movement vocabulary is shaped by her fundamental training in Indian classical dance forms and select exposure to contemporary dance. She is a LAMDA (London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art)-certified acting professional with training in Navarasa.

9:00 – 9:30 pm New Silk Road Patterns
Guided tour and conversation by and with the artist Anahita Razmi

Anahita Razmi © Anahita Razmi New Silk Road Patterns #02 is a reference to the ancient trade route that connected China through the Middle East with the Roman Empire. In this photo series, Razmi features herself posing in shirts emblazoned with nonsensical phrases from the markets of Tehran, Tokyo, Beijing, Dubai, and Istanbul in a play on Oriental motifs, logo mimicry and arbitrary copy. In this conversation, she will discuss her use of irony, East-West aesthetics and the politics of cultural appropriation in her artistic practice.
Anahita Razmi studied at Bauhaus-University Weimar, the Pratt Institute New York, and the State Academy of Art and Design Stuttgart, prior to exhibiting widely internationally and at numerous institutions like Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Germany, Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany, The National Art Center, Tokyo, and within the 55th Venice Biennale. Her video, installation, and performance works focus on issues of identity and gender and examine processes of cultural appropriation in which the meanings of existing images, artefacts, and thus identities are questioned by situating them in another context. Razmi often uses strategies of disarrangement to consider structures of perception within consumer and pop culture against the background of different communities between “the West” and “the Middle East”. The Islamic Republic of Iran, with its current political and social conditions and relations, remains an open, ambivalent point of reference. Razmi was a fellow of the Goethe@Lux Residency (2018), the Werkstattpreis of the Erich Hauser Foundation (2015), the MAKSchindler Artists and Architects-in-Residence Program, Los Angeles (2013), and the The Emdash Award, Frieze Foundation (2011). Her work is included in several international collections like the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, the Museo Novecento, Florence, and Davis Museum at Wellesley College, USA.

9:30 – 10:00 pm               Negotiating Liberation
Screening and Q&A with film director Amirah Tajdin

This 16mm film on dance, homesickness, love, and language was commissioned by the Goethe-Institut for the project Love, Labor Leisure

Amirah Tajdin © Amirah Tajdin Amirah Tajdin is a Kenyan artist and filmmaker. She graduated from Rhodes University in South Africa and Goucher College Maryland (USA) with a Bachelor of Fine Art (Photography). Over a ten-year period of film-making she has crafted a signature style of blending reality with fiction through her strong visual language in both her commercial and cinematic work. She is a Sundance Institute fellow, which makes her the first Kenyan director to be selected for both the Screenwriters Labs (Utah, 2017) and Director’s Lab (Utah, 2018) for her feature film currently in development. Her short film Marea di Tierra was in the main competition at Sundance (2016) and Cannes Director’s Fortnight (2015) and went on to play over 20 festivals globally. She has also directed various award-winning and nominated short films and feature-length documentaries. She forms the creative half of SEVEN THIRTY Films, an Africa-based indie production company which she founded in Nairobi in 2011 alongside her sister, producer Wafa Tajdin.

10:00 – 11:00 pm               WYWY presented by Analog Room/Mehdi Ansari

WYWY © WYWY WYWY is a dream pop couple from the Philippines, based in the United Arab Emirates and featuring X as vocalist, synth, and xylophone player, and Mckie on synth, bass, and guitar. Since 2015, the duo have made a name for themselves with their dream-like yet dark and ethereal sound and visual live performances. In 2017, they released their first EP album Within You Without You, featuring five original tracks.

Download the program

Program of Tuesday, 14th of December

6:00 pm                      Exhibition, reception, mingling
7:00 – 8:00 pm           Labor’s Love Lost

A conversation between artist Vikram Divecha and curator Murtaza Vali on the politics of the gaze, portraiture and artistic labor.

Jumping off from Divecha’s 2016 project Portrait Sessions, this conversation with critic and curator Murtaza Vali—who has been in dialogue and has collaborated with the artist for almost a decade—will discuss the relationship and exchange between art and other types of work in the UAE. Questions will include: How does one make art about labor in the Gulf? What are some of the strategies one might use to address the conditions of labor without further exploitation? Does the frame of art facilitate or hinder a conversation about labor? How is art work different from other types of work in the region? Is solidarity among workers across different economic sectors simply a utopian ideal?

Vikram Divecha © Courtesy National Pavilion UAE UAE Beirut-born and 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.

Murtaza Vali Murtaza Vali is a critic, curator, and art historian. His ongoing research interests include materialist art histories, ex-centric minimalisms, ghosts, and other figures of liminal subjectivities and repressed histories, the weight of color and contemporary art of the Indian Ocean littoral. Past curatorial projects include Crude, Jameel Art Centre, Dubai (2018–2019); Mohammed Kazem: Ways of Marking, Aicon Gallery, New York (2018); Vikram Divecha: Minor Work; Gallery IVDE, Dubai (2017); Accented, Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah (2015), Geometries of Difference: New Approaches to Abstraction and Ornament, Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, New York (2015); and Brute Ornament: Kamrooz Aram and Seher Shah, Green Art Gallery, Dubai (2012). His long-form publications include: A ‘Real Allegory’ of Manual Labor in the Age of Global Capital, published in di’van|A Journal of Accounts, Sydney (2020), and Lost Horizons: Revisiting CAMP’s Indian Ocean Projects in the forthcoming book accompanying March Meeting 2021, Sharjah Art Foundation. Vali earned an MA in Art History and Archaeology from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts (2004). Born in 1974 in Sharjah, he currently lives and works between Sharjah and Brooklyn.

8:00 – 9:00 pm Performance by Augustine Paredes and anna bernice

Augustine Paredes © Augustine Paredes Augustine Paredes and Anna Bernice are co-founders of Sa Tahanan Co. Augustine Paredes’ Slouching through Bedspaces is a series of photographs that recounts his migration from the Philippines to the UAE as an introspective journey to find a home or homes. In his new book Long Night Stands with Lonely, Lonely Boys he reminisces on the pain of growing and going. In response to a photograph entitled How to Slouch When Sleeping, poet and curator Anna Bernice will read a poem on loss and intimacy, entitled To Make a Home in a Stranger’s Bed.

Augustine Paredes is a Filipino artist and photographer based in Dubai. Augustine’s lyrical, contemporary, and sensuous visual narratives are derived from his many-storied travels, South East Asian consciousness, and queer gaze. He is an alumnus of Campus Art Dubai and the International Summer School of Photography, and has been nominated for the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass. He has been exhibited in the Philippines, Malaysia, Latvia, Australia, and other countries.

Bernice is a Filipina multi-disciplinary performance artist, freelance creative consultant, and arts/culture researcher. She has a double B.A. in Theater and Social Research & Public Policy with a focus on Art History from New York University Abu Dhabi, also receiving training at the Lee Strasberg Theater & Film Institute in NYC. Her emerging career has taken her to Berlin, New York, and Prague to collaborate and work with various companies in arts, culture, and social impact.
9:00 – 9:30 pm Spaces of Work and Spaces of Play
Guided tour and conversation by and with the artist Mohamed Somji
Dubai and Dusk and Dawn by Mohamed Somji is a photography series that zeroes in on the use of green and public space by migrant communities. These are communal spaces of gathering, leisure, dance, and sports. They are also improvisational spaces like empty parking lots or patches of land where different communities mingle, rest, worship, and make TikTok videos. Somji will be in conversation with Fareed Majari about the social documentary vein of his practice and how it started.

Mohamed Somji © Mohamed Somji Mohamed Somji is the Director of Gulf Photo Plus (GPP), a Dubai-based gallery and community organization that has been cultivating visual practices in photography in the UAE and across the wider MENASA region since 2004. As part of GPP’s commitment to developing visual and critical literacy, the organization engages the community with regular educational and art programming, and for a number of years hosted an annual photography festival that draws international attendance and showcases the world’s preeminent talent in photography. Mohamed is a co-curator of the bi-annual BredaPhoto Festival in the Netherlands, and has served as a jury member for various visual arts initiatives, notably the prestigious Arab Documentary Photography Program. Mohamed’s pedagogical expertise is broad, from teaching varied photography workshops and designing photo walk experiences across the UAE, to conducting portfolio reviews for Canon’s Student Development program, and leading a capacity building mentorship program for students in the Emirates with Warehouse421, a multidisciplinary arts organization based in Abu Dhabi. Mohamed’s documentary photography practice locates and probes schisms in contemporary life, challenging the status quo with sensitive, critical commentary on the politics of representation.