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2020 Commissions: A Focus on the Environment Around Us

Curated by Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, Art Dubai’s 2020 edition of Commissions showcases multi-disciplinary site-specific projects with an ecological focus. With installations throughout the venue, this year’s iteration is produced in collaboration with the Jameel Arts Centre through a months-long season continuum in Dubai. With current renditions of their work presented at the Centre, the participating artists will further develop and research projects to then be showcased at Art Dubai in March 2020. Participating artists include Asunción Molinos Gordo, Charwei Tsai, Khalil Rabah and Prabhakar Pachpute.

The 2020 theme focuses on environmental and ecological considerations, topical concerns of the current times we are living in. Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez’s in-depth background with ecologically-engaged approaches to art that explore, at the very core, how humans engage with and impact the spaces around them, was critical in her selection as the Commissions 2020 curator. The multi-disciplinary projects she has selected, woven throughout the venue, will be activated through the use of locally-sourced materials, reduced amount of transport used for production, no usage of plastic, and through prioritising materials that are both free of toxic chemicals and are recyclable.

This edition was “inspired by the artists who have been at the forefront of critically reflecting the actual moment of an increasing societal racialisation and the profound ecological crisis,” says Petrešin-Bachelez. The Commissions will invite visitors to imagine how to care for one another and for the environment that we inhabit.



Asunción Molinos Gordo is a Spanish artist who works in a range of media including installation, photography, video and sound. In 2015, Molinos won the Sharjah Biennial Prize with her project WAM (World Agriculture Museum). Molinos questions the categories defining “innovation” in mainstream discourses today by exploring the different forms of intellectual inquiry from the urban to the rural. Driven by a strong desire to understand the value and complexity of the rural as well as its cultural production and the obstacles that lead to its marginalisation.

Kumar holding a melon plant, Dubai, In Transit (Botany of a Journey), 2019, Asunción Molinos Gordo


Prabhakar Pachpute lives and works in Pune, India in a variety of media and materials including drawing, light, stop-motion animation, sound and sculptural forms. Working in site-specific, large-scale drawing and sculpture, Pachpute explores ideas around industry, land and labour. The figures in Pachpute’s work have experienced their land being donated, seized or acquired forcefully for economic gain. Coming from a mining and farming family himself, the artist explores evolving histories of familial, emotional attachment and physical ownership of agricultural and industrial resources.

Selection from ‘A Long Walk’, Prabhakar Pachpute, 2019


Charwei Tsai was born in Taipei and currently lives and works between Taipei and Saigon. Tsai graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in Industrial Design and Art & Architectural History in 2002, and completed the postgraduate research program at L’École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 2010. Interested in examining the relationship between humans and nature, Tsai reflects on the geographical and social complexities among cultural beliefs, spirituality, and transience. In some of her recent work, Tsai develops performances where she draws mantras or sutras, such as The Heart Sutra — a core element of Mahayana Buddhist thought that relies on the theory of “emptiness,” — on the plants, leaves, and bark of the trees in specific locations. The sutra talks about how all material phenomena exist interdependently, and therefore do not exist as separate entities or in a subjective role, and how all things are in a constant state of flux, and nothing remains the same. 

We Came Whirling from Nothingness I-IV(details), 2014, Watercolor & ink on rice paper, Charwei Tsai


Palestinian artist Khalil Rabah studied fine arts and architecture at the University of Texas. Rabah is the initiator and artistic director of the Riwaq Biennale and a co-founder of Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem. Rabah has been working for more than 20 years on the intersections between art and institutions, fictive and factual narratives. His long-term ambitious project titled ‘The Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind’ is rooted in the history and geopolitics of Palestine and it seeks to challenge and subvert traditional representations. Rabah’s decision to adopt the language and rigid structures of western museology provides him with a means to question the ways in which history is socially constructed through materials embedded in culture and identity.

Concept render by Khalil Rabah for his 2020 Commissions project

To read more about this year’s Commissions and past editions, visit here.

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