Launched in 2012, Campus Art Dubai (CAD) is an internationally-recognised community arts residency programme which works closely with UAE-based creatives to provide them with an incubator for ideation, development and mentorship. This year’s theme – Animal/Vegetable/Mineral: Symbiotic Life in a Parasitic World – serves as a starting point for the artists, and all the programme’s workshops, seminars and critique sessions revolve around it. The programme is led by tutors Uzma Z. Rizvi, Murtaza Vali and programme curator Munira Al Sayegh in addition to a thoughtfully chosen group of local and international guest instructors that are invited to co-present and teach. CAD 8.0 calls for artists to engage with the city and its culture through conversations with various stakeholders, historians, cultural practitioners, critics, academics, curators, gallerists, and peers, further developing the creative ecosystem in Dubai.
The theme seeks to highlight the critical nature of the climate crisis, especially in relation to the recent global political call to action towards a more sustainable future. Questions like ‘do human-centred solutions really create sustainable ways forward on a more comprehensive scale?’ and ‘do emerging models for living-in-relation provide us with pathways through which to forestall our inevitable extinction?’ will be brought to the forefront of this programme, and the artists will use them as starting points to evolve and develop their concepts. The final work developed throughout the programme will then be showcased at a curated group exhibition at Art Dubai 2020.
Read about how each of the selected artists individual backgrounds led them to their distinct project approaches.
SEEN – Sidroh Series I, Mixed media & thread (2019), Ameena Aljarman
Through her undergraduate studies, Aljarman was able to research the intersection of social sciences and art, and learned ways to combine aspects of that research with her interest in oral documentation of the region’s history. Her work focuses on social aspects of Emirati culture with roots in Africa, and through the perspective and experiences of her grandmother, she plans to extract themes of womanhood and produce artworks that reflect these stories. Aljarman is experimenting with mediums and approaches, and is eager to discover what elements may reveal themselves through both her personal research and more prompted reflections in CAD sessions.
Zen Dubai Fountain Soothing Water Sounds for Relaxation, Meditation, Reading, Sleep, Inner Peace (2019, In Progress) – Audio of the Dubai Mall Fountain water jets (with no music) plays from a speaker set inside a manmade seashell, Layan Attari
Layan Attari is interested in studying artificial water-based environments in the UAE and why they have become necessary for our well-being in addition to the questions they raise about our relationship to the earth. Her practice questions the aspirational thinking that guides their creation in a climate that does not naturally support their growth, as well as the potential consequences. “As the earth is the only astronomical object with bodies of liquid water on its surface, this reasoning is also applicable to the way we perceive our future, globally, as a human race,” she states.
Developing her work during Campus Art Dubai 8.0 (2019 – 2020), Nahla Al Tabbaa, Photo by Kathleen Hoare
NAHLA AL TABBAA
Nahla Al Tabbaa’s career has been multidisciplinary and multifaceted in its nature; she has worked in urban and community research, and those experiences have largely shaped her perspective and attitude towards art and creation. For her CAD project, Al Tabbaa seeks to develop a paint palette and series of dyes that are based on a traditional way of making paints, but procured through a more urban method. This being said, she notes that the very nature of the project could change based on her discoveries and the urban exploratory process. Combining her exploration-based approach and her background in sculpture and casting with skills learned at a pigment making course at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in London, with lessons furthered at the Jameel House of Traditional Arts in Jeddah, this project aims to showcase the challenges we would face as natural resources become extinct.
Microcolonies, public bench park microorganisms (2018), Zahra Jewanjee
Zahra Jewanjee’s practice examines the micro and macro relationship between systems of behaviour which are both singular and multiplied, the individual and collective, observed through a lens of either similarity or difference. Her studio-based work focuses on the fractal nature of colonising behaviour and a system within systems existing in nature and in human constructs, pointing at this archetypal behaviour to rethink how we understand human preservation. Often fluctuating between abstraction and surrealism, Jewanjee paints portals of time which function as escape routes from ubiquity, leading the viewer to the sublime. Attempting to understand the notion of boundaries and the sense of duality that weaves through our conception of nature, the recent work hints at how borders are used in many contexts to separate and safeguard, whether physical or ideological, lines are drawn, inevitably sides are formed and binaries and dualities occur. Her on-going inquiry poses similar questions of belonging by seeking answers from nature and its emphasis on creating a system where a coded language can collectively speak of a colonial world view and can be expressed through contemporary art.
Smile, You’re in Sharjah. Street art (2016), Zena Adhami
Zena Adhami plans to investigate questions of climate change and its impact on the future of humanity through various mediums. Adhami hopes to examine varied techniques to develop a dialogue between nature and urban dwellings. Adhami centres her practice on exploring and investigating our world through the lens of space. She feels she is continually returning to the relationship between how we define place and how it defines us. “Our understanding of and relationship to nature is more a product of our culture and personal values than of an external physical reality. Reality in nature is not what we see, but what we have learned to see. Throughout my work as a designer, I question the importance of space through narratives of urban experiences and how it influences our understanding of space and urban form. This year’s theme will allow me to explore how we define what constitutes as natural, and contrast those elements with the built environments we inhabit in cities,” she states.
Campus Art Dubai is part of Art Dubai’s educational programming and is held in partnership with Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.
More information about Campus Art Dubai is available here.