Once we fell from the sky and landed in Babel. 2015
Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation. Part of March Project Residency
The space is a public square in the heritage area in the heart of Sharjah. This part of the heritage area has been transformed into art spaces by Sharjah art foundation. I intended to created a sensory experience, an experiential and meditative space where meanings and dichotomies are explored, challenged, and renegotiated. The idea of using the carpet was inspired by my observations and research in the old souq area in the heart of Sharjah, where some shop owners lay carpet on the sidewalk in front of their shops, interrupting the public state of the sidewalk and transforming it into a privatized public place that distinguishes the space from the rest of the pavement, creating a negotiation between privacy, meaning, and our choice of conformity and\or rebellion to these notions. The audience is required to take off their shoes as they enter this open space, and the only indication to that are the shoes placed on the outer edges of the carpet. Most of the visitors complied to this practice with no further guidance.
A big concrete spiral stands in the middle of the space, creating an unknown path and a tension between the structure and its context. Concrete is regarded as a defining symbol of modernity and invention. It's existence in a heritage area allows us to question the quickness of time and our deep need to hold on to the past, regressing against the spiral of time and progress.
The spiral also acts as an incense burner, a "mabkhara", where frankincense is burnt periodically, overpowering the space with the scent of nature, traditions, and the past. Frankincense is used by the shop owners in Sharjah, burning the frankincense as they open their shops, as an act of warding evil and bringing in good fortune. Once these practices are transformed into a collective city experience, this act becomes a spectacle of performing the past, labouring towards the future, and exploring our deep fear of loss.
The March Project is an educational residency programme for young artists that provides opportunities to research, realise and present site-specific works through a series of professional development courses, seminars, exhibitions, site visits and talks led by art practitioners over a five month period. Participants in this programme were chosen from the Gulf and abroad including recent graduates from institutions such as Slade School of Fine Art (UK), MASS Alexandria (Egypt), Al Riwaq (Bahrain), Higher Colleges of Technology (UAE) and Zayed University (UAE). This exhibition features the work of seven young artists. The works realised in this exhibition draw upon the role of architecture, space and movement in the hybrid culture and society of Sharjah. The interactions in Sharjah between residents and its private and public spaces, as well as the occupation and use of these places, play a central role in these site-specific works installed throughout SAF Art Spaces and Bait Obaid Al Shamsi, in the Arts Area.