Curated by Nada Raza

While the physical, the immersive and experiential, the sonic, the textual, virtual and the ephemeral have been central to artistic practice, the move to the digital as a primary interface has also meant a return to the easily graspable image. Or, frustratingly for creators, to a facsimile of what should only have been understood through physical experience.
This daily selection of works by a single artist will privilege media that do not need a digital translation, rescaling or re-rendering in order to be consumed electronically. Retrieved from the past catalogues of artists who are represented by galleries based in the UAE, this selection of works brings into question the primacy of the material and visual in our shift to consuming art online. Countering this tendency and shifting the pace to learning and listening is an opportunity for the curatorial to begin research anew, excavating moments which passed us by, but feel relevant, insightful or even prescient today. And which might survive the swipe and scroll format without significant reduction.

One artist will be featured every day during the online edition of Abu Dhabi Art, allowing for a focussed pause within an array of digital distraction.

VIII - Hassan Sharif


To end this series of a single work per day, we revisit a work that also contains an exhibition history. The One Day exhibition took place at Hassan Sharif’s Al Mureijah Art Atelier on January 3rd, 1985. Works by Sharif and Abdul Rahim Salam were exhibited for only one day. These included outdoor assemblages of found objects, papers and rocks tied to string. Audiences were invited to come and witness the temporary, time-bound art event, and the documentation of the happening was recorded in this work. This action was in line with Sharif’s performative practice at the time, which conceptually challenged the conventional understanding of the art object and role of the artist within the cultural community of the UAE.

Hassan Sharif (1951-2016) made a vital contribution to conceptual art and experimental practice in the Middle East through 40 years of performance, installation, drawing, painting and assemblage. Sharif gained attention for his cartoons published in the UAE press before attending the Byam Shaw School of Art (now part of Central Saint Martins) in 1984. Upon his return, he set about staging interventions and the first exhibitions of Contemporary art in Sharjah. Sharif started creating his objects in the 1980s using found industrial materials or mass-produced items purchased in markets and stores around the UAE. He also encouraged and supported several generations of artists in the Emirates as a founding member of the Emirates Fine Arts Society (founded in 1980) and the Art Atelier in the Youth Theatre and Arts in Dubai. In 2007, he was one of the four artists to establish The Flying House, a Dubai institution for promoting Contemporary Emirati artists. Represented by Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, Dubai


VII - Augustine Paredes

Photographs and poems from a volume published in 2020

Conversations at the end of the Universe starts with a celebration and continues to celebrate as the world burns, and then gently, tenderly ends with a caution - to take care. It is a collection of poetry and photographs that examine the ephemerality of human existence. Between questioning mortality and investigating death, this body of work aims to create a fictional space to have conversations, to question and make sense of times like these when it has neither been better, nor been worse.

Click here to view the full presentation at alserkal.online

Augustine Paredes (b. 1994) is a Filipino artist who works as a photographer in Dubai. Augustine’s lyrical, contemporary, and sensuous visual narratives are derived from his many-storied travels, South East Asian consciousness, and curious gaze. He was born on a Thursday. Augustine works with Gulf Photo Plus, Dubai.


VI - Fazal Rizvi


These Fissures in the Deep (excerpt of sound-based work)

These drawings are rendered digitally using only the parenthesis – a symbol which contains, but also expands and opens up – here transformed, morphed into waves, lines and borders, intersecting with lines of longitude and latitude, suggesting movement and change. This parallels the artist’s interest in the movement of the waves and the cycles of human breath. The Blue Drawings are shown here alongside an excerpt from These Fissures in the Deep, commissioned specifically for Colomboscope 2019, which takes the listener underwater - on a walk upon the seabed itself. The listener descends onto the seabed – home to all that the surface of the sea renders invisible. From this, Rizvi sketches an image, forcing us to come to terms with the depth of the water and what it holds within. Tapping into networks, both old and new, of colonisation, migration, and communication, the project rummages through many drowned objects, bodies and histories.

Fazal Rizvi is an interdisciplinary artist based in Karachi, Pakistan. His inquiry rests somewhere between the personal, the social and the political. Having spent a few years thinking about the materiality and immateriality of the sea and its borders, he also keeps returning to the personal and the familial as a place of trigger. Rizvi graduated in Fine Arts from the National College of Arts, Lahore, in 2010. He is an artist in resident for 2020 - 2021 at Jan Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, Netherlands. He has been an artist in residence at Arcus Studios, Japan, in 2011 and was the recipient of the Charles Wallace Pakistan Trust award for Gasworks Studios residency, London, in 2014. He is also the recipient of the Pro Helvetia New Delhi studio residency in Zurich, 2020. Rizvi has also been a member of The Tentative Collective. Represented by Grey Noise, Dubai


V - Sara Naim


Gesture is primitively our first language; it underlines and punctuates. It allows language to be potentially infinite. With only seven percent of human communication consisting of words, this video work aims to dissect gesture’s visual language.

“One cannot define all words, because the very idea of ‘defining’ implies that there is not only something to be defined, but also something to define it with,” says language specialist Anna Wierzbicka. These indefinable words are called semantic primes, fundamental to the semantic systems of a language. Here, Naim gestures the 68 semantic primes with one type of motion each, treating the image as a language in itself.

I, You, Someone/Person, People, Something/Thing, Body, Kind, Part, This, the Same, Other, One, Two, Some, All, Many/Much, Good. from The Third Line on Vimeo.

Sara Naim (b. 1987, London) is a Syrian visual artist who grew up between Dubai and London. She received her MFA in Fine Art Media at The Slade School of Fine Art, London (2014) and completed her Bachelors in Photography from London College of Communication (2010). Using science as a tool to visualise micro formations, Naim’s practice studies the notion of boundary. Her work dissects sight itself and its relationship to perception. Represented by The Third Line, Dubai


IV - Michael John Whelan

The Collector of Skies, 2007

This film follows a man undertaking a series of seemingly routine tasks which become increasingly strange. He leaves the bar through the back door, into the centre of the building. It is here he enacts his idiosyncratic routine: the private projection of a small format film. As this quiet procedure ends, the man leaves the theatre and the viewer is left alone with a sense of obsession and solitude.

The Collector of Skies from Michael John Whelan on Vimeo.

Michael John Whelan 's work has been exhibited and screened internationally at MAK, Vienna; The Glucksman Gallery, Cork; Centre Pompidou-Metz, France; Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai; Kasteel Wijlre, Netherlands; Grey Noise, Dubai; Kunstverein Bochum; Galeria OMR, Mexico City; Kunsthall Stavanger, Norway; Kunst Haus Wien; Lismore Castle Arts, Ireland; Kiasma, Helsinki; Noorderlicht, Groningen. He received a BA in Fine Art from the Institute of Art, Design + Technology Dún Laoghaire in 2002 and an MA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art and Design (University of the Arts London) in 2004. He has had two books published: ‘The Sun Shone on the Nothing New’, published by Grey Noise/Lismore Castle Arts, and ‘Red Sky Morning’, published by Argobooks, Berlin. In 2018 and 2019 he received the Arts Council of Ireland Bursary Award, and in 2017 a Senate of Berlin research grant. His work is part of the collections of the Arts Council of Ireland, the University of the Arts, London, and the Institute of Art, Design + Technology, Dún Laoghaire. Represented by Grey Noise, Dubai


III - Hale Tenger

Beirut, 2005-2007

The video Beirut was filmed by Tenger in 2005 shortly after the assassination of Rafic Hariri in Beirut, and consisted of the facade of the once-glamorous hotel St. George, a hotel awaiting renovation to return it to heights of past grandeur. Tenger, who was staying opposite the St. George and had to film in secret because the area was under UN military investigation, captured the movement of the white curtain fabrics which were hung outside each of the St. George’s balconies. The video acted in part as a personification of the difference in atmosphere existing in Beirut at the time between day and night. The light breeze of daylight, moved the white fabric curtains in a serene almost ethereal manner in contrast to the harsh evening breeze which created an unpredictable almost violent movement. This contrast in tension was further accentuated by the inclusion of an audio track of bombings sounds taken from the Israeli attack of 2007, and was further accompanied by music composed by Serdar Ateşer, Tenger’s long-term audio collaborator.

Hale Tenger (b.1960, Izmir, Turkey) is primarily known for her large-scale installations based on an elaborate combination of unconventional use of materials, audio, and video. Her wide range of production is inspired by diverse historical, political and psychosocial references. Presence and experience is a key element in her installations whether they create meditative atmospheres or uncanny ones. State power and violence, oppression and repressed aspects of both society and self are questioned throughout her works that operate with the qualities of mood, sound, texture and affect. The audience inevitably oscillates between one visualised situation and another sensed one: between what we can see and what we can hear and feel. Audio is integrated into most of her works in various forms, either as an exclusive music, as a narrative or an arrangement of archival recordings. Represented by Green Art Gallery, Dubai


II - Sarah Almehairi

Artist Talks - In Conversation

Artist Talks by Sarah Almehairi is a series of conversations with artists with links to the UAE and the region. Developed intuitively by Almehairi, the series began in April 2020 during lockdown, and has continued over the last six months, becoming a rich archive of local practices. It includes conversations with Amba Sayal-Bennett, Sarah Brahim, Moza Almatrooshi, Nasser Alzayani, Mays Albaik, Rand Abdul Jabbar, Shamma Al Amri Shaikha Al Mazrou, Sara Rahbar, Azim Al Ghussein and Jill Magi as well as group conversations with Majd Alloush, Saeed Al Madani and Sofiane Si Merabet around their UAE Unlimited exhibition; Ayesha Hadhir, Shaikha Al Ketbi and Rawdha Al Ketbi around their collective practice and project for Abu Dhabi Art 2019; and a curators panel with Walid Al Wawi, Sara bin Safwan and Wejdan Reda. Collectively, this artist-led initiative and ‘cosy’ gathering in the digital realm is reflective of the radical generosity shown in 2020 in terms of sharing knowledge and developing generative networks of support.

Almehairi’s interest in dialogue extends beyond the present into more speculative engagements with artistic practices that she finds meaningful for her own research. In Conversation, imagines an exchange with Agnes Martin: “In this piece I wrote out two texts that almost converge. One is intuitively selected - Agnes Martin writings from her diaries - and the other is of my thoughts and poetry "responding" to it. A sort of conversation drawing on the subconscious between two artists who would have never met, yet still were able to converse.”

Sarah Almehairi’s work fluctuates between image and poetry, narrative and abstract. Lines and layers are used throughout her pieces as a means of exploring clarity and organisation of collected information from her childhood memories. Through the process, moments unfold, repositioning takes place, order is imposed, and language asserts a structure. These elements towards telling a story are not so explicit, it investigates the push and pull of concealing and revealing. Almehairi is interested in how her works create visual poetry, engaging with form, materiality, and colour; piecing together an innovative language. Her works are read time and time again to suggest a form other than their own – a map, a sentence, a puzzle piece – her continuous searches give access to new pathways. She lives and works in Abu Dhabi and completed her BA at New York University Abu Dhabi. Represented by Carbon12, Dubai


I - Farah Al Qasimi

Everybody was Invited to a Party, 2018

Everybody was Invited to a Party, 2018 pulls inspiration from the 1980s Arabic version of Sesame Street (Iftah Ya Simsim), using puppets to present language and letters as malleable objects without fixed meaning. The video seeks moments where failure to communicate creates a new opportunity.
“I first wanted to make a traditional TV puppet show with a linear narrative, but became totally engrossed in the translation books I was using for the text. I loved the places where these textbooks faltered, and imagined a world where language is a material that can be abstracted instead of refined.”
Here the work has a playful double meaning, as the opening of the fair would typically include an invitation to a party.

Farah Al Qasimi, Everybody was invited to a party, 2018 from The Third Line on Vimeo.

Farah Al Qasimi works primarily with photography, video and performance, Farah examines postcolonial structures of power, gender and taste in the Gulf Arab states. Farah studied photography and music at Yale University in 2012 and received her MFA from the Yale School of Art in 2017. She has participated in residencies at the Delfina Foundation, London (2017); the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine (2017); and was recently awarded the New York NADA Artadia Prize and the Aaron Siskind Individual Photographer's Fellowship (2018). Farah lives and works between New York and Dubai. She is currently a critic at the Rhode Island School of Design. Represented by The Third Line, Dubai